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Queensland is full of surprises. It’s known for its abundance of nature, pristine beaches, tropical islands, and being the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.
It’s a state we’ve resonated with as a holiday destination and have visited many times over the years, usually on short trips to the Gold Coast.
But after spending three months exploring the state on our 18 month road trip around Australia, and calling it home for 5 months, we’ve come to realise how many things to do in Queensland there really are.
If you’re planning a trip to Queensland but you’re not sure what Queensland attractions to add to your list, then read on to see 52 of our favourite things to do and activities.
- Things to Do in Queensland
- 1. Explore the Boodjamulla National Park, Savannah Way
- 2. Snorkel or Dive the Great Barrier Reef
- 3. Take a Larc Tour of 1770
- 4. Discover the Undara Lava Tubes, Savannah Way
- 5. Daydream on Daydream Island, Whitsundays
- 6. Visit Burleigh Heads National Park, Gold Coast
- 7. Drive the Waterfall Way, Atherton
- 8. Relax at Airlie Beach
- 9. Visit Lady Musgrave Island, Great Barrier Reef
- 10. Ride the Skyrail Rainforest to Kuranda
- 11. Relax on the Kuranda Scenic Railway
- 12. Meet the Characters at Movieworld, Gold Coast
- 13. Freak Yourself Out on Skypoint Climb, Gold Coast
- 14. Stay at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Gold Coast
- 15. Marvel at Cobbold Gorge, Savannah Way
- 16. Meet J.R the Texas Longhorn, Charters Towers
- 17. Slip into Maggie Island Time at Magnetic Island
- 18. Get to Know Townsville
- 19. Explore Noosa National Park
- 20. Swim or Surf at Noosa Main Beach
- 21. Relax at Port Douglas
- 22. Hit Up the Cairns Lagoon
- 23. Escape to Great Keppel Island
- 24. See the Stars at The Cosmos Centre, Charleville
- 25. Go Underground in Mount Isa
- 26. Visit the Qantas Museum, Longreach
- 27. Explore Winton, Outback Queensland
- 28. Have a Sporting Weekend in Brisbane
- 29. Take a Getaway to the Bunya Mountains
- 30. Spot Whales in Hervey Bay
- 31. Drive the Savannah Way Drive
- 32. Drive 75 Mile Beach in a 4×4, Fraser Island
- 33. Swim in Lake Mackenzie, Fraser Island
- 34. Swim at Champagne Pools, Fraser Island
- 35. Watch a Croc Show at Australia Zoo, Sunshine Coast
- 36. Go 4×4 Driving on Moreton Island
- 37. Go Sandboarding at Tangalooma, Moreton Island
- 38. Kayak the Wrecks of Tangalooma, Moreton Island
- 39. Go Horse Riding on Rainbow Beach
- 40. Drive the Great Beach Drive, Noosa North Shore
- 41. Go Kayaking in the Town of 1770
- 42. Be Stunned By Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands
- 43. Get Pampered on Hayman Island, The Whitsundays
- 44. Catch the Sunrise at Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast
- 45. Learn to Surf on the Gold Coast
- 46. Watch The Sunset at Snapper Rocks, Gold Coast
- 47. Walk or Kayak at Cape Tribulation
- 48. Hike in Mossman Gorge
- 49. Have a Blast at Dreamworld, Gold Coast
- 50. Hike in Carnarvon Gorge National Park
- 51. Climb the Story Bridge
- 52. Kayak the Noosa Everglades
- Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Queensland
Things to Do in Queensland
It’s not just tropical islands, beautiful beaches, and theme parks. Queensland has a ton of history, amazing wildlife, warm and friendly locals, and nature that cannot be beaten.
And Outback Queensland and the Southern Queensland Country is a whole new experience!
So, let’s go with this list of things to do in Queensland!
1. Explore the Boodjamulla National Park, Savannah Way
We call it “Queensland’s best-kept secret”.
Boodjamalla National Park is an emerald green oasis in Outback Queensland that thrives with wildlife, native plants and fauna, and is the off-the-beaten-path experience you crave.
Otherwise known as Lawn Hill, Boodjamalla’s draw is its sandstone cliffs, emerald green river, kayaking, hiking, and camping.
2. Snorkel or Dive the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s natural icons. Made up of 900 islands and 2,900 individual coral reefs, it’s the largest living structure on the planet, and whether you snorkel or dive you just have to experience it for yourself.
There are many options for getting out on the Reef and from various locations along the Queensland coast, with Cairns being the main gateway.
It’s one of the top places to visit in Queensland, Australia for a reason.
3. Take a Larc Tour of 1770
Spending the day exploring the Town of 1770 in a bright pink LARC – an amphibious vehicle designed to transport goods in time of war – is one of the best day trips we’ve done in Australia.
Tour owner Neil is as passionate as they come, and the day was full of adventure, history, scenery, and laughs! Read more in our review of the LARC tour in Seventeen Seventy.
4. Discover the Undara Lava Tubes, Savannah Way
One of the most interesting places we explored in Outback Queensland was Undara, home to 164 volcanoes, cones, and vents. Who knew Australia had such a volcanic history?
It was fascinating for us and fun for our kids! Sleep in a train carriage, have breakfast in the bush, take a wildlife sunset tour and do the half-day Archway Explorer Lava Tubes tour!
5. Daydream on Daydream Island, Whitsundays
We only had one night on Daydream Island and wished it was more. The island is the gateway to the tropical paradise of Queensland.
There’s enough mix of relaxation and activities for all of us and you’re in The Whitsundays!! The most beautiful part of Queensland.
A highlight was Kalyra succeeding for the first time at SUP – Stand Up Paddle Boarding!
If you have more time, you can also explore the nearby Hamilton Island which also offers relaxation and serenity whilst being surrounded by lush tropical waters.
6. Visit Burleigh Heads National Park, Gold Coast
Burleigh Heads is our favourite place on the Gold Coast and we were fortunate to call Burleigh home once. It’s home to one of the best short coastal walks in Australia, which is through the Burleigh Heads National Park.
Get up early and catch the magnificent sunrise whilst watching the surfers at the point. Then continue around the headland and you’ll come upon another Gold Coast favourite, Tallebudgera Creek.
7. Drive the Waterfall Way, Atherton
Drive for about an hour southeast of Cairns and you’ll arrive in the Atherton Tablelands region. Here you can go mountain biking, coffee tasting, and hot air ballooning, amongst other things.
But my favourite thing to do in Queensland was driving the 15km Waterfall Way Circuit that embraces some of the best waterfalls in the region.
8. Relax at Airlie Beach
Airlie Beach is a fun town. We spent a week there and used it as a gateway to The Whitsunday Islands – think Whitehaven Beach – but there’s enough going on in town that makes Airlie a fun holiday destination within itself.
For the adults, there are endless bars, cafes, and restaurants, and our kids loved the man-made lagoon!
9. Visit Lady Musgrave Island, Great Barrier Reef
On the day we visited Lady Musgrave Island, it was a rough 90-minute boat ride out from the Town of 1770 due to the swell, but the destination was magnificent and worth the bumpy ride.
This island is a coral cay and the second island in the Great Barrier Reef chain of islands after Lady Elliot Island.
You can even camp here, with no power or water supply, and the nearby snorkelling in the lagoon is brilliant.
10. Ride the Skyrail Rainforest to Kuranda
The town of Kuranda is a popular place to visit near Cairns and the best way to get there is via the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.
Glide for 7.5 kilometres over the top of the pristine rainforest with awesome coastal views thrown in. If you’re brave, jump in the open-air Canopy Glider (harnessed in) for uninterrupted and breathtaking views.
11. Relax on the Kuranda Scenic Railway
Once you go up the mountain to Kuranda on the Skyrail, a relaxing way to descend through the rainforest is on the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway which passes waterfalls and deep ravines.
It’s an impressive engineering feat and you pass through 13 tunnels.
It’s definitely one of the most exciting things to do in Queensland.
12. Meet the Characters at Movieworld, Gold Coast
Kalyra called it the BEST. DAY. EVER…Bugs Bunny and the gang had come out on Main Street and Kalyra had danced Gangnam style with Sylvester and Tweety Bird, got a hug from Sylvester, and took a selfie with Austin Powers.
Movie World on the Gold Coast is for the movie lovers in the house, but there are plenty of thrill rides to suit older children and adults who are not so interested in meeting the characters.
13. Freak Yourself Out on Skypoint Climb, Gold Coast
The SkyPoint Climb takes you to the top of the Q1 building on the Gold Coast. And at 270 meters above the ground is Australia’s tallest residential building.
To put that into perspective, this building is taller than the Chrysler building in New York City.
I have a deep fear of heights but you’re safe and secure and the views over the Gold Coast are fantastic!
14. Stay at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Gold Coast
Take the road up through the sub-tropical rainforest to the UNESCO World Heritage Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland and stay at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
Up here you’ve got waterfalls and lookouts for days, plus 160 km of graded walking paths, a Tree Top Boardwalk, a 180m flying fox, segway adventures, birds of prey show, rainforest retreats, and luxurious Eco-Villas.
15. Marvel at Cobbold Gorge, Savannah Way
Formed 135 million years ago, sandstone cliffs tower on both sides as a battery-powered boat glides you through the majestic narrow gorge (2m wide in places) with 20 metre high cliffs.
Fed by several springs the gorge is stocked with a variety of native fish and Johnstone River Crocodiles. And when you stay at Cobbold Gorge Village you’ll swim in one of the best infinity pools I’ve seen!
16. Meet J.R the Texas Longhorn, Charters Towers
Y’all thought the Longhorns were in Texas, right?
Well, thanks to Mick and Lynda of Leahton Park ranch in Charters Towers you can ride an old chuck wagon and meet J.R, a long-horned steer who made the Guinness Book of Records for having the biggest longhorns in the world, measuring 2.82 metres tip to tip.
17. Slip into Maggie Island Time at Magnetic Island
Maggie Island time is my kinda time; it’s slow-paced and relaxing.
Take the short ferry across from Townsville, to Magnetic Island and you can slip into Maggie time too.
We spent a week here enjoying stunning sunsets, bush walks, snorkeling, fishing, cuddling koalas, and feeding the resident rock wallabies.
18. Get to Know Townsville
It’s no secret Townsville is home to the “Cowboys” football team, but we were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed this city.
Walk the Strand – a 2-kilometre-long beachfront playground – check out the best aquarium in Australia and experience a fascinating Military Tour.
19. Explore Noosa National Park
It’s the National Park that keeps us going back to Noosa.
We haven’t walked the whole park yet, and we are yet to spot koalas here who call it home, but walking the coastal track from the surf club to Tea Tree Bay, and the section that begins at Sunshine Beach where we saw a whale breaching is reason enough to visit.
This national park is one of the most beautiful in Queensland, so be sure to add it to your list.
20. Swim or Surf at Noosa Main Beach
Noosa is a world-famous surfing destination, and Main Beach is a favourite spot for locals to surf the clean waves, and for beginners to get a surfing lesson.
It’s one of the only north-facing beaches on the east coast of Australia, and because it’s sheltered with gentle waves it makes for a family-friendly beach.
21. Relax at Port Douglas
Tropical North Queensland has to be one of the most enchanting regions in Australia, and Port Douglas is a fantastic place to spend a few days exploring the local area.
You can enjoy stunning sunset views from the marina, eat good food, party, and shop until you drop.
It’s a perfect base to head out to the reef from and explore more of the surrounding region.
22. Hit Up the Cairns Lagoon
Besides being the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is well known for its man-made lagoon.
Crystal clear waters (no crocs in here), beach views, and lifeguards. It’s a cool place to laze around, read your book, and meet other travellers.
There are few places you can safely swim in Cairns so be sure to check it out when visiting this part of Queensland.
23. Escape to Great Keppel Island
There aren’t too many islands in the Great Barrier Reef where you can escape the crowds and stay in your own beach bungalow for a reasonable price.
On Great Keppel Island, a 30-minute ferry ride from Yeppoon, you can.
Keppel feels like something you’d find in the Caribbean – barefoot living, 15 beaches to explore, snorkeling, kayaking, and killer sunsets.
24. See the Stars at The Cosmos Centre, Charleville
Fascinating place this – I walked away wanting to buy my first ever telescope! I think I learned more here about the sun, the moon, the stars, and outer space than I have in a lifetime.
The highlight was in the evening when we looked at the stars through giant telescopes in the outside observatory. The Moon is amazing up close!
25. Go Underground in Mount Isa
Mount Isa has the biggest underground mine in Australia and is the world’s biggest producer of copper.
What better way to appreciate the intense and dangerous work miners do and get educated about the industry that has held up our economy through the GFC, than on a mining tour led by local larrikin Steve.
26. Visit the Qantas Museum, Longreach
Longreach has been going through a severe three-year drought, but Longreach is open for business! And in case you didn’t know, Longreach was where Qantas began back in 1920.
We have been Qantas frequent flyers forever and it was a treat to learn more about how this great Australian company was started here in the Outback heartland.
27. Explore Winton, Outback Queensland
It’s only a one-street town but Winton was the Outback country town we’d been looking for.
The history of Banjo Patterson and the dinosaurs, old-world charm, and sitting around the Tattersalls Hotel with town folk open to conversations with strangers made this place special.
Winton is one of our favorite places to visit in Queensland.
28. Have a Sporting Weekend in Brisbane
Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane is the best venue in Australia for watching Rugby League, Rugby Union, and Soccer.
I flew my mate up from Sydney to see a Wallabies and Broncos match, and flew my dad and brother-in-laws up from Sydney to watch NSW get belted in the third State of Origin game (that was fun haha), but the atmosphere makes it all worthwhile.
Iconic Caxton Street is the place to be pre-game!
29. Take a Getaway to the Bunya Mountains
Queensland really is full of surprises. Bunya Mountain National Park is situated between Kingaroy and Dalby, and is a spectacular wilderness range overlooking the South Burnett region.
The Bunya Mountains are home to the largest stand of ancient bunya pines in the world, there are lovely walks here, and it’s one of the only places in the Sunshine State to experience a real winter.
30. Spot Whales in Hervey Bay
Every year between June and October thousands of humpback whales migrate up and down the east coast of Australia and the protected calm waters of Hervey Bay is a favourite transit stop for them as they rest and play. It’s a spectacular sight!
Be sure to check out the boat tours leaving from Hervey Bay or Fraser Island, which put you close to these majestic beasts of the ocean.
31. Drive the Savannah Way Drive
Tropical North Queensland is full of surprises – it’s more than reefs, rainforests, and beaches! And with a daughter named Savannah this road trip has always been on our list.
Head west from Cairns towards the NT border and you’ll take in highlights like the Atherton Tablelands, Undara Lava Tubes, Cobbold Gorge, and Boodjamulla National Park.
32. Drive 75 Mile Beach in a 4×4, Fraser Island
Fraser Island stretches 123 kilometres long and 23 kilometres wide and is one of the best places to go in Queensland. It’s the largest sand island in the world and is a 4wdriving paradise.
75 Mile Beach on the eastern side is Fraser’s National Highway and it’s on this drive you can spot marine life thriving in its waters, such as dolphins and migrating whales.
You will also see wild dingoes, the island’s native residents, shipwrecks, and much more!
33. Swim in Lake Mackenzie, Fraser Island
In the middle of Fraser Island is Lake Mackenzie, a lake that holds the key to youth – the water is said to keep you younger.
It’s crystal clear and glows iridescent blue and the white silica sand is powdery soft and just waiting for you to clean your jewellery and exfoliate your skin. Another notable feature is the heart-shaped tree.
34. Swim at Champagne Pools, Fraser Island
Another popular place to visit on Fraser Island is Champagne Pools, located north of Indian Head along 75 Mile Beach.
These pools provide a very popular swimming hole with the ocean crashing over the rocks into shallow sandy pools, with the foaming water being where the name Champagne Pools comes from.
35. Watch a Croc Show at Australia Zoo, Sunshine Coast
Home to the late, great Steve Irwin, Australia Zoo is the ultimate wildlife adventure.
Built around the live croc show in the Crocoseum, you can also meet and learn about the who’s who of Aussie and African wildlife.
A visit to the Koala Hospital next door is something I recommend.
36. Go 4×4 Driving on Moreton Island
Moreton is like a mini Fraser Island, another sand island that’s excellent for 4×4 adventure driving, yet it’s easily accessible just off the coast of Brisbane.
Take your own vehicle or do a tour with the folks from Sunset Safaris like we did.
37. Go Sandboarding at Tangalooma, Moreton Island
Whilst on Moreton Island, get amongst the sand dunes and zoom down on a sandboard reaching speeds of up to 40km per hour!
You’ll get sand in places you never thought possible, but it’s so much fun!
38. Kayak the Wrecks of Tangalooma, Moreton Island
Explore and snorkel the stunning Tangalooma Shipwrecks on Moreton Island, and see the coral and fish surrounding the shipwreck in a unique “Transparent Kayak,” it’s like you’re floating on water!
39. Go Horse Riding on Rainbow Beach
Rainbow Beach has been featured on the front cover of the publication “101 best beaches of Australia” and Huffington Post ranked it at number 5 in their article of “Nine of the Most Incredible Beaches in the World”.
But Rainbow is special in more ways than one, being one of the only places in the State where you can go horse riding on a beach.
40. Drive the Great Beach Drive, Noosa North Shore
Jumping in a four-wheel drive and taking on the Great Beach Drive from Noosa North Shore to Rainbow Beach confirmed there’s only one way to do a lap of Australia – with a 4×4!
I’m calling it Australia’s best shortcut because instead of taking the M1 (Bruce Highway) from the Sunshine Coast to Rainbow Beach via Gympie, you take the prettier and quicker Beach Highway.
41. Go Kayaking in the Town of 1770
1770 Liquid Adventures is owned by a couple who totally understands what travellers are looking for in an experience, especially with kids.
We did a guided family kayaking adventure up the creek to Butterfly Beach where we stopped for morning tea, a play with the butterflies, and good old bubble-busting fun.
Their sunset tour sounds amazing!
42. Be Stunned By Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands
We’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Whitehaven Beach is the most incredible beach we have been to in all of Australia. In fact, it’s probably one of the most famous beaches in Australia!
The pure white silica sand, the turquoise water, the National Park backdrop, the fusion of swirling colours seen from Hill Inlet lookout, and the isolation. Just go!
43. Get Pampered on Hayman Island, The Whitsundays
Queensland makes a habit of blowing your mind, and whilst Hayman Island has had a complete makeover and a name change to One&Only since we visited, I’m sure it blows even more now!
Hayman not only offers you a pole position in getting to some of the best places on The Great Barrier Reef, but it also offers a unique experience of tranquillity, indulgence, and natural beauty.
44. Catch the Sunrise at Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast
I said it earlier – Burleigh Heads is our favourite place on the Gold Coast – and one of our favourite places in Australia, period!
The day starts in spectacular fashion with sunrise, and I like to sit on the headland with coffee in hand and watch the surfers carve up the famous surf break. Do sunrise in Burleigh!
45. Learn to Surf on the Gold Coast
The Gold Coast offers some of the best surf breaks in Australia.
Think Snapper Rocks, Greenmount, Kirra Point, Currumbin Alley, and Burleigh Point to name a few. If you’re going to learn to surf, the Goldy caters to all levels.
Kalyra loved learning to surf with former World Champion Cheyne Horan Surf School.
46. Watch The Sunset at Snapper Rocks, Gold Coast
We love having a sunset beer at Rainbow Bay Surf Club, which overlooks Snapper Rocks, it’s our favorite sunset spot on the Goldy.
The views all the way over to Surfers Paradise are stunning, the food is good and cheap, and when the waves are pumping there are few places like it.
Snapper Rocks is home to the Rip Curl Pro Surfing event!
47. Walk or Kayak at Cape Tribulation
At 110 million years old the Daintree Rainforest is the oldest existing rainforest in the world, even pre-dating the Amazon.
Cape Tribulation – a headland located within Daintree National Park – sits where two World Heritage Listed sites collide.
Surrounded by native plants and flora, you can experience where the Daintree Rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef. It’s a nature lover’s paradise.
48. Hike in Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge is at the southernmost end of the Daintree Rainforest.
It’s ancient, pristine, and full of high vibrational energy. Mossman Gorge is free to enter but you do have to purchase a pass to catch the shuttle bus into the main walking area. Or you can walk the 2km yourself.
A boardwalk takes you to the Mossman River and a beautiful swimming area.
49. Have a Blast at Dreamworld, Gold Coast
I’ve officially declared Dreamworld as the best theme park on the Gold Coast. And don’t just take my word for it, I have back-up in the form of an expert – our 8-year-old daughter Kalyra!
And that’s a big call because only two days before visiting Dreamworld Kalyra said she had the Best. Day. Ever…at Movieworld.
Dreamworld has something for everyone. With over 50 rides and attractions, it’s the BIGGEST theme park and it’s the one park we never miss out on when we return to the Goldy.
50. Hike in Carnarvon Gorge National Park
Several readers suggested we visit Carnarvon Gorge National Park.
Now that we’ve been, we can say a tropical oasis awaits and Carnarvon will be added to our list of favourite National Parks in Australia.
This national park is full of lovely hikes, camping spots, and night-time star-gazing talks, and is one of the best places in Australia to see wild Kangaroos!
51. Climb the Story Bridge
Sitting above the Brisbane River is Story Bridge which connects the CBD to Kangaroo Point.
We’ve all heard about the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb, and the Story Bridge climb is a similar experience.
From the top of the bridge, you can see the Glass House Mountains in the north, across to Moreton Bay, and even towards the Scenic Rim Mountains in the south.
Not only do you get to see the best of Brisbane’s city skyline, but you can channel your inner adrenaline junkie.
There are only three bridge climbs in the world, so don’t miss out on this exciting thing to do in Queensland!
52. Kayak the Noosa Everglades
The Noosa Everglades are a series of waterways and tropical wetland and swampy land that connect the Northern Noosa River system to the ocean near the Sunshine Coast.
The everglades are nestled among two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, the Noosa and the Cooloola region of the Great Sandy National Park.
We decided to kayak a 16 km round trip from Lake Cootharaba, which took us out into the middle of nowhere in a pristine natural environment with only the sounds of the birds flying and the water lapping against our boat and the lily pads.
Or you can combine a short kayaking trip with a boat tour, if you don’t fancy paddling for too long.
Tours of the Noosa Everglades to consider
- Self Guided kayak tour of the Noosa Everglades
- Noosa Everglades canoe trip with lunch
- Eco Safari to Australia’s Everglades
- Cruise and Canoe Australia’s Everglades
Noosa Everglades Video:
See more of this amazing experience and our time in the Noosa Hinterland in our video.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Queensland
So there you have it, those are the best things to do in Queensland and as you can see, there’s so much diversity in what you can do it can be hard to narrow down the list of attractions.
Whether you’re looking for beautiful beaches, thrilling theme parks, nature spots, hikes, or places to see wildlife in its natural home, I think we can all agree there’s plenty of this and more in Queensland.
We hope this guide helped you plan your trip and we wish you the best time exploring this sunny state in Australia!
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Can you suggest things to do in Queensland? What places or activities would you add to this list? Share in the comments below!