Things to Do in Queensland
Encompassing roughly 3,000 individual reefs and dotted with almost 900 islands and coral cays (small sandy isles), Australia's Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most unforgettable natural treasures. Snorkelers and certified divers flock here to see the unparalleled array of marine life.
Known as the “River of Mirrors,” the Noosa Everglades is one of Queensland’s most stunning natural landscapes and one of only two everglades systems on Earth. This stretch of wetlands, mangrove forests, and lakes is part of Cooloola National Park and harbors a rich diversity of flora and birdlife.
Castle Hill is a 938-foot (286-meter), pink granite, heritage-listed hill that stands behind central Townsville. It’s a popular lookout point with sweeping views of Townsville, the ocean, and Magnetic Island. The hill also offers 15 different hiking trails of various levels of difficulty.
The Brisbane River winds its way through the heart of the city, from the neighborhoods of South Brisbane all the way to Moreton Bay. The river is also a center of local life, and residents and visitors alike enjoy the many waterfront parks and landmarks, riverside walks, and sightseeing cruises.
A multimedia experience engaging all of the senses, Infinity is a journey through mazes of special effects that create a dream-like atmosphere. Sound fields, lights, music, and visual illusions challenge the mind and stretch the imagination of those who navigate the funhouse.
There are 20 different environments, each with its own unique interactive experience. Ranging from a laser room to a time warp, electron maze, and inter-dimensional space, visitors are treated to a feast for all the senses throughout. The creator of Infinity has an art background, and the innovative and immersive displays on an “electronic canvas” push the boundaries of artistic expression, eliciting powerful emotional responses. Truly a unique experience, Infinity lives up to its name by altering one’s sense of time, space and what is possible.
Mangrove-dotted wetlands and eucalypt forests outline the pristine beaches of Eurimbula National Park in Agnes Water, where visitors can explore unspoiled Australia as they uncover this coastal wonderland. The melange of plant varieties and untouched botanicals attract hoards of wildlife, and with that, the park protects miles of coastal vegetation.
For a peaceful getaway, lounge by the beach or drop a lure in for some fishing and boating. Nature lovers may like to camp out and spend more time viewing the park’s various wildflowers and wildlife, including honeyeaters, powerful owls and turtles, while others may opt to scout out the terrain by following one of the trails, or get adventurous with a bushwalk. Many travelers choose to have picnics at the waterfront for a relaxing experience.
With its powder-white silica sands, gleaming turquoise waters, and fringe of lush rainforest, it’s little surprise that Whitehaven is one of Australia’s most photographed beaches. Stretching for almost 3 miles (5 kilometers) along the coast of Whitsunday Island, it’s a magnificent sight and an idyllic spot for swimming and snorkelling.
Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures introduces visitors to Australia’s most famous reptiles (and other native species) through an informative and educational day out. Visitors can observe crocs on a cruise through a lagoon mimicking the creatures’ natural habitat and learn how crocodiles are sustainably farmed.
Deep in the heart of the rainforest near Cairns lies a real Spanish castle. Paronella Park was the brainchild of José Paronella, who – with dreams of building a castle and leisure gardens for the community to enjoy – began building his castle in the 1930s.
Paronella Park has undergone many constructions and reconstructions. Parts of the park have been destroyed by no less than three cyclones, a fire, and floods since José Paronella completed his park, but it has bounced back to relive its former glory. The park has won multiple awards for ecotourism, and is one of the most popular attractions around Cairns.
Visiting Paronella Park today shows off the many original and restored features of José Paronella’s dream. Extensive tropical garden, picnic areas, tennis courts, a cinema, a ballroom and more are on show, including more modern additions such as a museum. There are over five hectares of gardens in which visitors can picnic, a café offering local produce and even camping grounds.
Marking the southern border of Daintree National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mossman Gorge is one of the most popular places to experience the world’s oldest rain forest. Dating back more than 130 million years, the dense forest and scenic river gorge harbor a rich biodiversity and provide a stunning backdrop for hikers and swimmers.
More Things to Do in Queensland
With its miles of sun-bleached sandy beaches, towering sand dunes, shimmering lagoons, and pockets of wild bushland, Moreton Island feels a world away from nearby Brisbane. As the third largest sand island in the world and a national park, Moreton Island makes for a perfect day trip when you want to get in touch with nature.
Located in the Gold Coast Hinterlands, Tamborine National Park is known for its natural beauty, rich biodiversity, and breathtaking views over the Gold Coast and the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Scenic Rim to the west. Queensland’s first national park, Tamborine is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.
Awe-inspiring Lake McKenzie is possibly one of the world’s most beautiful lakes. It is also one of the world’s least polluted and a swim in the crystal-clear freshwater will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
The lake is a “perched lake,” meaning it sits atop a sand dune where the sand and humus underneath have bonded into a concrete-like base. The lake isn't connected to streams or the ocean, which means all the water is pure rainwater. The sand also acts as a filter keeping the water clear, and makes for an amazing experience when relaxing in the lake.
Fraser Island is home to forty of the world’s eighty perched lakes, and like the many other freshwater lakes on the island, Lake McKenzie relies solely on rain for replenishment.
The sand surrounding the lake is pure silica so you can wash your hair with it or exfoliate your skin, perfect if you’ve been camping for days. There are a lot of delightful picnic areas and stunning beaches around the lake, which makes it perfect for an afternoon trip or a multiple day excursion.
Sprawling over more than 360,000 hectares, the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia form one of Australia’s most important ecological sites, famed for its abundance of rare and endangered wildlife.
Protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Gondwana rainforest areas are mostly found along the coastal region of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales and encompass more than 50 national parks, forests and reserves.
The most visited Gondwana Rainforests include the Lamington National Park, Tamborine Mountain National Park and Border Ranges National Park in Queensland, and Springbrook National Park, Dorrigo National Park and Mount Warning National Park in New South Wales. Within the parks, hiking, climbing and camping are among the favorite pastimes of visitors, with a vast network of walking trails and an abundance of natural landmarks, including the mighty Tweed Volcano. For nature enthusiasts, the main draw is the spectacular variety of wildlife, including endemic species like Hastings river mouse, spotted-tailed quoll and mountain tree frog, and rare birds including wompoo dove, marbled frogmouth and lyre bird.
For many travelers to the Gold Coast hinterland, a trip to the interior means hiking, birding, or searching for thundering falls. In the case of Tamborine Mountain, however, a small town on an elevated plateau of about 1,700 feet, visitors travel from all over the Gold Coast for the chance to shop at the Gallery Walk. On this festive, shop-lined, action-packed strip, visitors will find over 70 stores full of crafts, clothing and art, as well as restaurants, wine shops, cheese shops, chocolate shops, coffee shops, and houses for tea. Peruse the boutiques for everything from crystals to original, Aboriginal art, or pick up imports like Nepalese scarves or fine, German made clocks. Given the number of visitors about town, it’s also common to find talented musicians performing out on the street, and if you’re completely smitten with the entire experience and one day isn’t enough, a number of charming bed and breakfasts are just a short walk away.
Part of the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Gondwana Rainforests, the startling landscapes of Springbrook National Park are among the many highlights of Queensland’s Gold Coast Hinterlands. Carved out by an ancient volcano, the rugged plateau is now a natural wonderland of forested gorges, jagged cliffs, and cascading waterfalls.
With its peculiar rock formations, gaping caverns and underground caves dripping with stalactites, stalagmites and flowstones, the dramatic topography of Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park makes it one of Queensland’s most unique national parks. The mesmerizing landscape was formed some 400 million years ago, the result of an ancient inland sea sculpting the soft limestone rock, and there are hundreds of caves to explore.
Today, the caves provide a habitat for several animal species, including bats, spotted pythons and white-rumped swiftlet, while fossilized bones of now-extinct creatures like giant kangaroos and giant wombats have also been unearthed in the caves. A network of short hikes and walking trails connect the caves and highlights include the landmark Archways and Balancing Rock; the Pompeii and Bauhinia Caves; a series of aboriginal rock art galleries; and the Chillagoe smelters, home to relics of the region’s 19th-century mines.
When most people think of Noosa Heads, it's surf, sunshine, and shopping that come to mind. And while this Queensland beach town is definitely famous for its waves and glitzy boutiques, it's also home to Noosa National Park and its 10 miles of coastal walking trails.
The most popular section of the park is right on Noosa Headland, accessible by simply following the boardwalk that runs along Noosa Main Beach. A paved walking trail hugs the coast and runs in the direction of Hell's Gate, where it's possible to spot turtles and humpback whales from the panoramic viewpoint.
The network of trails continues all the way down to Sunshine Beach, and there's even a chance travelers will spot wild koalas as they clamber and climb through the treetops. In addition, the bird-watching in the East Weyba section of park is some of the best in southeastern Queensland, although most visitors stick to Noosa Heads and the coastal sections of track.
Marooned off the coast of Cairns in north Queensland, Green Island is a tropical paradise of lush rainforest, white sandy beaches, and crystalline waters. The idyllic island is part of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef National Park, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and harbors an extraordinary variety of coral reefs, exotic fish, and marine life.
Story Bridge is Brisbane’s answer to Sydney’s Harbour Bridge. Iconic in its own right, Story Bridge is a heritage-listed, steel cantilever bridge that allows access between the northern and southern suburbs of Brisbane.
Story Bridge was built between 1935 and 1939, and was known as Jubilee Bridge until mid 1940. The main attraction of Story Bridge, as splendid as it is to view from afar, are the bridge climbs which began in 2005. A guided tour takes visitors up the bridge to stunning panoramic views of the city, out to Moreton Bay, and west across the aptly named Scenic Rim as they stand 80 metres above sea level. It’s also possible to abseil down one of the bridge’s pylons and into Captain Burke Park.
The Great Barrier Reef is the Earth’s largest structure built entirely by living organisms. It runs for over 1,200 miles from its northern to southern tip, and is almost the size of the state of Montana when its various reefs are combined. One of the reefs—the Agincourt Reef—is a distant section along the reef’s northern tip where stunning biodiversity creates one of the most pristine ecosystems found anywhere along the reef.
Known as a type of “Ribbon Reef,” the Agincourt Reef runs parallel to the line with the Continental Shelf. Exotic species such as the Maori wrasse are commonly found along the reef, and sharks, rays—and even whales—can be seen when scuba diving the reef. Even for travelers who are just snorkeling, however, there are sections of the reef only a few feet below the clear, turquoise waters. Here, in the shallow lagoons, thousands of fish inhabit a reef that bursts with vibrancy and color—and there is even the chance of encountering species like the giant purple clam. Like a galactic portal to an entirely new world, the sights, colors, and marine diversity create an aquatic wonderland off of Port Douglas unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
Just across the river from Brisbane’s central business district, Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park offers sweeping views of Brisbane’s skyline, as well as excellent rock climbing and rappelling—suitable for all skill levels—on its cliffs. The cliffs were formed by convicts mining the volcanic rock in the middle of the 19th century.
The Whitsunday Passage is the waterway that carves through the middle of the Whitsunday Islands in the heart of northwestern Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. These famous islands, perhaps some of Australia's most popular tourist attractions, are named after the passage, which was given its title by the famed explorer Captain James Cook in 1770. The area was discovered on Whitsun, a Sunday feast day held seven weeks after Easter, thus resulting in the name. However, since the international dateline has now been established, it is now said that the day Cook discovered this passage would have actually been a Monday.
Within Whitsunday Passage, there are 74 islands in total, with the largest simply known as Whitsunday Island. Most of these islands have remained uninhabited or are, at the very least, protected by a vast system of national parks. The oldest settlement in the Whitsundays is the town of Bowen, settled in 1861. Later, in 1936, the city of Airlie Beach was established and it remains, in many ways, the heart of Whitsunday Passage. Today, the Whitsunday Passage is sailed constantly by tourists on chartered boats and cruises, while including some of the world's most photographed beaches.
This stretch of soft white sand is aptly named 75 Mile Beach due to the fact that it’s 75 miles (121 kilometers) long. Running along majority of Fraser Island’s east coast, the beach offers a number of experiences, although swimming is not advised due to the high number of tiger sharks. That being said off-roading and fishing are popular pastimes on the beach, as is visiting its many attractions. If you are wanting to swim safely there are the Champagne Pools, natural rock pools that feature frothy Champagne-like bubbles when waves crash over the rocks.
Additionally, Indian Head is a rocky outcrop popular for watching stingrays, fish, turtles, dolphins and sharks in the surf. Visitors can also visit theMaheno Wreck, once one of the world’s fastest ships and used for target practice by the Australian Airforce in WWII. After a bad storm in 1935 it was pushed to the beach’s shore as it was being towed to Japan to be scrapped. And no trip to 75 Mile Beach would be complete without experiencing Eli Creek, a crystal clear freshwater creek where you can enjoy a relaxing float. Something else interesting about 75 Mile Beach is it’s not just used for recreation, but also as a highway and runway, as the hard-packed sand makes for great off-roading and planes often land here.
- Things to do in Noosa & Sunshine Coast
- Things to do in Cairns & the Tropical North
- Things to do in Brisbane
- Things to do in Port Douglas
- Things to do in Gold Coast
- Things to do in Hervey Bay
- Things to do in Aeroglen
- Things to do in New South Wales
- Things to do in Victoria
- Things to do in South Australia
- Things to do in Byron Bay
- Things to do in Hunter Valley
- Things to do in Northern Territory
- Things to do in Tasmania
- Things to do in North Island