The intense popularity of Byron Bay can be, at first, a mystery. Sure, the beaches are sublime, but there are spectacular beaches all along this coast. Its locals have come to symbolise an Australian haute-boho lifestyle, yet much of the town is a squat, architectural mishmash and has a traffic problem. So why the legions of global fans? As they say in Byron, it's the vibe.
Brisbane & Around
Sophisticated city galleries and rooftop bars, desolate subtropical beaches, cool-climate vineyards: the greater Brisbane region deals in Queensland's most gasp-inducing contrasts. Star of the show is Brisbane itself, a lush, sultry metropolis with flourishing restaurant, bar and cultural scenes that attest to its coming of age.
Built for pleasure and remaining a place utterly dedicated to sun, surf and the body beautiful, this strip of coast is possibly Australia’s most iconic holiday destination. Its shimmering high-rises can, when glimpsed from afar, appear like a make-believe city, and its reputation for tackiness is occasionally deserved.
The local Butchulla people call it K’Gari – paradise – and for good reason. Sculpted from wind, sand and surf, the striking blue freshwater lakes, crystalline creeks, giant dunes and lush rainforests of this gigantic sandbar form an enigmatic island paradise unlike anywhere else.
Seen from above, the Whitsundays are like a stunning organism under the microscope. Indigo, aqua, yellow and bottle-green cellular blobs mesmerise the senses. Sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef, the waters are particularly perfect for sailing. Seen from afloat in the Coral Sea, any of the 74 islands will hypnotise on approach and leave you giddy with good fortune.
Cairns (pronounced ‘cans’) has come a long way since its beginnings as a boggy swamp and rollicking goldfields port. Heaving under the weight of countless resorts, tour agencies, souvenir shops and a million reminders of its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is unabashedly geared towards tourism.