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.
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.
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.