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Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

Queensland: Brisbane, Cairns & the Great Barrier Reef

Australia's Sunshine State

Visit Queensland


Laze on stunning coastlines and enjoy the best of Australia's sun, surf and sophisticated style. Get a buzz in Brisbane, whale watch off Hervey Bay or four-wheel drive the sands of Fraser Island. Soak up the pristine powder-white, palm-fringed islands of the Whitsundays and the technicolour wonder of The Great Barrier Reef or head to Daintree and Cape Tribulation for Aboriginal culture in one of the world's oldest rainforests.

Southern Queensland

From the scenic mountains of the Gold Coast Hinterland to the buzzing streets of Brisbane and the immense sand dunes of Fraser Island, there’s much to Southern Queensland beyond the gaudy glitz of Surfers Paradise. Seaside towns such as Noosa offer a glimpse of the Australian good life and make the perfect base for exploring wetland habitats and coastal trails rich in local wildlife. Further north, the waters around Hervey Bay attract humpback whales between July and November.

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef stretches 2,000 kilometres from north to south along the Queensland coast, and while many head for Cairns, the islands to the south are also well worth exploring. Lady Elliot Island and Heron Island both offer excellent diving and snorkeling, with the chance to see both manta rays and turtles while the popular Whitsunday Islands are all pristine beaches and indulgent resorts. The reef's northern section, which runs all the way from Townsville to Cape York, is equally enticing. Lizard Island, Orpheus Island and Haggerstone Island offer the ultimate in barefoot luxury – languorous bases from which to explore parts of the reef that few others get to see.

Northern Queensland

The sprawling city of Cairns is the gateway to Tropical Northern Queensland. It’s also one of the main launch points for cruises on the Great Barrier Reef. For some, Cairns is a convenient place to hang the hat for a few days, but greater rewards can be found further north at Palm Cove, where some of the north’s top hotel and spa resorts gather along an idyllic palm-lined beach, and Port Douglas whose proximity to the reef, the ancient rainforests of the Daintree National Park and the rural Atherton Tablelands make it a popular alternative.

Special offers in Queensland: Brisbane, Cairns & the Great Barrier Reef

Australian Offshore & The Great Barrier Reef

14 night expedition voyage from £11,920 pp

cruise offer

Crystal Endeavor Launch Fares
Book by: 31 January 2019

Voyage highlights: Lizard Island National Park, in-depth expeditions among reefs, atolls and islands of the Great Barrier Reef, mangrove Zodiac discoveries, hiking, diving and helicopter adventures.

Indonesian Immersive & The Great Barrier Reef

16 night expedition voyage from £12,615 pp

cruise offer

Crystal Endeavor Launch Fares
Book by: 31 January 2019

Voyage highlights: Exploration and cultural immersion experiences, including Komodo National Park, Spice Islands of the Banda Archipelago, Aboriginal culture and rainforests, Great Barrier Reef and Ribbon Reefs, and hiking, diving, swimming, snorkeling, Zodiac and helicopter expeditions.

Top itineraries in Queensland: Brisbane, Cairns & the Great Barrier Reef

Sydney, Uluru & the Great Barrier Reef

15-day tailor-made journey from £2,730 pp incl. flights

Discover the city sophistication of Sydney, the monolithic beauty and Aboriginal culture of Uluru and the underwater wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.

Australia and New Zealand Discoverer

21-day tailor-made journey from £4,690 pp incl. flights

This 21-day tailor-made itinerary combines the best that Australia and New Zealand have to offer. You'll explore New Zealand's world-famous glaciers and remote fjords with a self-drive before discovering Australia's sacred Ayers Rock, stunning beaches and delightful waterside cities.

Australia’s East Coast: Sydney to Byron Bay

14-day tailor-made self-drive from £1,780 pp incl. flights

Be charmed by Sydney before discovering the stunning beaches, coastal towns and lush hinterland of New South Wales' East Coast as you wind your way north.

Sydney, the Whitsundays and Brisbane

17-day tailor-made journey from £2,640 pp incl. flights

Between the sights of Sydney and Brisbane, hop out to the Whitsundays to enjoy some island relaxation alongside hikes, cruises, kayak paddles and snorkelling trips. You'll also enjoy a two-night stay in Macao, an east-meets-west melting pot of culture and cuisine.

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Top places to stay in Queensland: Brisbane, Cairns & the Great Barrier Reef

Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef

Contemporary lodge

Consistently ranked as one of the top 10 resorts in the world, Lizard Island is a spectacular and secluded island escape that is the ultimate in understated luxury.

Qualia, Great Barrier Reef


Situated on the northern tip of Hamilton Island in Queensland’s idyllic Whitsundays, qualia is one of Australia’s finest luxury resorts. You don’t have to take our word for it – in 2012 it was voted the Best Resort in the World in the Condé Nast Traveller Reader’s Choice Awards.

Spicers Peak Lodge, Scenic Rim


At Spicers Peak, warm, muted colours of natural materials such as stone and timber blend seamlessly into its green surrounds as the lodge offers luxury accommodation in an imitable location.

The New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites, Brisbane

Historic hotel

The New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites is sited in Brisbane’s financial, and more importantly geographic, heart. It offers refined luxury and a Good Food Guide recognised restaurant.

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Where to go in Queensland: Brisbane, Cairns & the Great Barrier Reef

Cairns & the Great Barrier Reef

Australia's northeast is a tropical paradise. Chief among its unique natural attractions is its wildlife-filled ancient rainforests and the UNESCO-listed Great Barrier Reef. Here you'll find an otherworldly underwater realm of spectacular coral and colourful marine life.

Fraser Island

Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island, located roughly 300 km north of Brisbane, off the coast from whale-watching hotspot Hervey Bay.


At the heart of the Great Barrier Reef the 74 paradise islands of The Whitsundays chain float like jewels in the Coral Sea. Charter a yacht and discover palm-fringed islands, powder-white beaches, isolated cays and luxurious 5-star resorts.

Australia's Sunshine Coast

Just north of Brisbane and you'll find the Sunshine Coast. From the surf beaches and esplanades of Caloundra, Alexandra Headland and Mooloolaba to the cosmopolitan café culture of Noosa, the region is one of the most relaxing, and beautiful, in Southern Queensland.

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When to go to Queensland: Brisbane, Cairns & the Great Barrier Reef

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Northern QueenslandIt's wise to plan the time of your trip to Northern Queensland carefully. Between December and March, heavy rains lash the coast and many Outback roads are impassable. Another factor to consider are the marine stingers (box jellyfish), which inhabit the coast. Although they're present throughout the year, they are most prevalent around the islands and beaches between November and May. For the best weather, and to avoid the jellyfish, it's best to visit between June and September.Southern QueenslandApril to November is considered the best time to visit Southern Queensland. In the far south, April and May are particularly …

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Queensland: Brisbane, Cairns & the Great Barrier Reef articles

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    It's well-known that Australia is blessed with sands, sun and surf but, with so much to choose from, it's easy to get lost. With this in mind, this is our definitive guide to Australia's best beach resorts, from the Great Barrier Reef to Kangaroo Island.

  • Best Queensland Marine Life Experiences

    From the Gold Coast to the Tropical North, Queensland has over 7400km of coastline inhabited by hundreds of species of marine wildlife.

  • The Best Beaches in the Whitsundays

    The 74 islands at the centre of the Great Barrier Reef are fast becoming the choice destination for travellers, with a host of fine resorts, facilities and an abundance of natural beauty. We reveal the best beaches on the Whitsundays to help you plan which one to visit.

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