From the obvious to the unusual, here are 20 of the very best things to see and do while making your way across Queensland – also known as the sunshine state.
1. Great Barrier Reef
It’s the world’s largest living structure, comprised of more than 3,000 coral reefs, 600 islands and 300 coral cays, and it’s home to thousands of tropical fish species as well as sharks, dolphins, turtles, dugongs and more. Needless to say, you could swim, surf, snorkel, sail and scuba for months and still not see everything this amazing part of the world has to offer.
2. Fraser Island
© John Quixley – Australia / Alamy Stock Photo
It’s the world’s largest sand island and one of the best island escapes in the country. Whether you camp or stay in a luxury eco resort, you’ll enjoy the ancient rainforests, freshwater lakes, sandstone cliffs, rock pools and 75 Mile Beach.
3. Kuranda Scenic Railway
The town of Kuranda itself is charming and folksy, but its scenic railway offers a journey you’ll remember for the rest of your life. You can take the steam train that winds through the rainforest and along the gorge, or glide over the treetops in the cable car.
4. Queensland Cultural Centre
© patrick-reinig.com / Alamy Stock Photo
The cluster of monolithic, angular buildings across the river from Brisbane’s central business district are home to the state’s best classic and modern art collections, library, museum collections, performance centres and more.
5. Tangalooma Wrecks
A short swim off the coast of Brisbane’s Moreton Island, the fifteen rusty hulls of the Tangalooma Wrecks make for an unforgettable scuba or snorkelling experience.
6. Capricorn Caves
Venture beneath the craggy limestone ridges of the Berserker Range to discover an incredible cave system. Follow the boardwalk or abseil directly into the heart of the cavernous underground chambers.
7. Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre
There are countless pioneer museums dotted throughout the outback, but few are as engaging, interactive or innovative. This Longreach based museum is a tribute to the outback explorers, the early pioneers and Indigenous Australians.
8. Mossman Gorge
© Fire&Ice / Stockimo / Alamy Stock Photo
This boulder-strewn valley valley is a stand out spot in the already impeccable Daintree National Park. The Mossman River runs crystal clear and is perfect for a lazy swim.
9. Australia Zoo
It’s not the only zoo in Queensland, but thanks to its founder – the late Steve Irwin – it’s certainly the most famous. A short drive from Brisbane, it’s the perfect spot to see crocodiles, snakes, dingos, wombats and a whole host of amazing Australian critters.
10. Historic Village Herberton
With more than 50 lovingly restored heritage buildings, this historic township gives far more insight into early Australian life than any regular museum trip.
11. Australian Age of Dinosaurs
© Andrew Sole / Alamy Stock Photo
The Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum building – a hunking mass of iron perched on a red dirt plateau – is impressive in itself. But the collection inside, including two locally found dinosaur fossils, needs to be seen to be believed.
12. Mount Hypipamee National Park
© Genevieve Vallee / Alamy Stock Photo
Surrounded by lush tropical rainforest, the Mount Hypipamee Crater is a breathtaking 70m (230ft) wide, 138m (453ft) deep crater. The lush green of the waterweed that sits on top of the crater lake provide stunning contrast to the stark grey granite walls.
13. SkyPoint Observation Deck
© Rafael Ben-Ari / Alamy Stock Photo
There are thousands of things to do on the Gold Coast and you have the chance to see them all from above at this 230m (755ft) tall observation deck in the heart of Surfers Paradise.
14. Boireann Wines
Of all the wineries and vineyards around Stanthorpe, the French and Italian-style wines of Boireann Wines are perhaps the most highly regarded.
15. Min Min Encounter
The locals can’t really explain the strange lights that appear in the sky near Boulia, and you probably won’t be able to explain this weirdly wonderful show either.
16. Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
There are more than 500 limestone caves to explore in this national park. While they’re all impressive, make sure you visit the caves at Mungana and Wullumba to experience the ancient Aboriginal rock art, painted on the cave walls.
17. Hou Wang Temple
It’s not the most ornate Chinese temple in the world, but with its corrugated-iron cladding and gold-rush era establishment, it’s certainly one of the most unique.
18. Carnarvon Gorge National Park
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
This majestic gorge runs for 30km (18.6 miles) through the rugged ranges of Queensland’s highlands. From 200m (656ft) tall sandstone cliffs to the quiet waterholes, there’re plenty of reasons to lace up your hiking boots and explore.
19. Big Red
© Manfred Gottschalk / Alamy Stock Photo
This massive, 40m (131ft) tall wave of red sand is the first of more than 1,000 parallel dunes that stretch across the Simpson Desert. This lovingly nicknamed dune is a source of inspiration for photographers and an unnerving challenge for four-wheel drivers.
20. Charleville Bilby Experience
They are incredibly tiny, absolutely adorable and nearly impossible to spot in the wild. Take this rare opportunity to see Australia’s answer to the Easter Bunny up close.