Occupying Australia’s northeastern corner, this vast state is awash with dazzling landscapes, vibrant cities and 300 days of sunshine a year. It’s also home to some of the country’s most notable highlights, from the golden beaches of the Sunshine Coast and the luminous green of the Daintree rainforest and Daintree Village to the clear blue waters of the Great Barrier Reef.
It hides some of the country’s lesser-known treasures, delivering wow-factor with gusto. You only have to peel back the postcard to find corners seemingly untouched by other visitors – Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park with its ancient rainforests, the white sandy beaches of the Whitsunday Islands, vibrant and unique Aboriginal festivals and jaw-dropping sunsets. Brisbane will delight city slickers with its lively, cosmopolitan atmosphere and, in the north, Cairns is a travellers’ mecca. Between the two are strings of towns and islands, each with its own flavour but all brimming with Queenslander hospitality.
For the active traveller there are oodles of opportunities for white-water rafting, scuba diving, snorkelling, bushwalking, horse riding, surfing, bungee jumping, abseiling… The state is also home to more tours accredited under the national eco certification scheme than any other, so you can safely explore, rather than exploit, this beautiful state.
Best places to stay in Queensland
After the party: recharging in Queensland's Gold Coast Hinterland
Sunburnt and exhausted after partying it up on Australia's Gold Coast? That’s not surprising. This sprawling city stretching along the Pacific coast south of Brisbane is Australia’s answer to both Las Vegas and Miami, combining gambling, nightclubs and dining with perfect swimming beaches.
Queensland destination guides
Brisbane & Around
It may be Australia’s third-largest city, but for the longest time Brisbane was seen as something of a poor cousin to Sydney and Melbourne: a sleepy country town hiding behind a big city façade.
How to explore the Great Barrier Reef
Stretching over 2000km along the eastern coast of Australia, the Great Barrier is a mind-blowing natural wonder. This marine wonderland and Unesco World Heritage Site harbours one of richest ecosystems on the planet.
Great Barrier Reef Diving and Snorkeling Cruise from Cairns
Enjoy five hours of snorkeling or diving at two outer Great Barrier Reef locations on a premium cruise from Cairns. You'll be served a typically Aussie barbecue lunch aboard the fully equipped Osprey V and go on a guided snorkeling tour or learn to scuba dive. Aboard the Osprey V, you'll enjoy one of the fastest day trips to the Great Barrier Reef, cruising at over 30 knots.
Green Island Day Trip from Cairns
Cruise to Green Island from Cairns and find a tropical paradise on the Great Barrier Reef. You'll spend either four or five hours at Green Island, with plenty of time to snorkel or scuba dive, tour the reef on a glass-bottom boat or view coral from a semi-submersible submarine.
The perfect trip to Queensland
From kicking up red dust in an outback cattle muster to floating above the Great Barrier Reef, Christa Larwood of Lonely Planet Traveller magazine explores the very best of Australia’s Sunshine State. Photographs by Matt Munro. The Hill Inlet snaking its way into the heart of Whitsunday Island.