Queensland is full of surprises.
It’s always been 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 as part of our 18 month road trip around Australia, and now calling it home for the past 5 months, we’ve come to realise how many things to do in Queensland there are.
It’s not just tropical islands, beautiful beaches and theme parks. They have all that, and do a great job of those experiences, but there’s so much more!
As we discovered on our Savannah Way road trip, Tropical North Queensland offers a lot of magic when you head inland too. And Outback Queensland and the Southern Queensland Country region provided some of our most cherished travel moments and experiences.
To be honest, it was hard to narrow it down to just 50 places to go in Queensland, and I’m sure we’ll add to this list the longer we live in and explore this beautiful state. But let’s go with this list for now.
Things to do in Queensland, Australia
1. Boodjamulla National Park, Savannah Way
We call it “Queensland’s best kept secret”. An emerald green oasis in Outback Queensland that thrives with wildlife 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.
Read more – Queensland’s best kept secret
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 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 go in Queensland, Australia for a reason.
Read more – How to visit the Great Barrier Reef
3. 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 – Adventure in the Town of 1770
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!
Read more – Introducing the Undara Lava Tubes
5. Daydream on Daydream Island, Whitsundays
We only had one night on Daydream Island and wished it was more. There’s enough mix of relaxation and activities for all of us and you’re in The Whitsundays!! A highlight was Kalyra trying and succeeding for the first time at SUP – Stand Up Paddle Boarding!
Read more – 24 hours on Daydream Island
6. Burleigh Heads National Park, Gold Coast
Burleigh Heads is a our favourite place on the Gold Coast – we’re fortunate to call Burleigh home now – and one of the best short coastal walks in Australia 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.
Read more – 4 walks on the Gold Coast
7. Drive the Waterfall Way, Atherton
Drive for about an hour south-east from 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 was drive the 15km Waterfall Way Circuit that embraces some of the best waterfalls in the region.
Read more – Exploring The Atherton Tablelands
8. 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’s endless bars, cafes and restaurants, and our kids loved the man-made lagoon!
9. 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. 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, 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 pristine rainforest with awesome coastal views thrown in. If you’re brave, jump in the open air Canopy Glider (harnessed in) for uninterrupted views.
Read more – Riding the Skyrail Rainforest
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 feet, you pass through 13 tunnels.
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 we took a selfie with Austin Powers. This park is for the movie lovers in the house, but there’s plenty of thrill rides to suit the older children and adults.
Read more – Best day ever at Movieworld
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 metres above 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!
Read more – Facing fear on the Skypoint climb
14. Stay at O’Reilley’s Rainforest Retreat, Gold Coast
Take the road up through sub-tropical rainforest to World Heritage Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland and stay at O’Reilly’s. Up here you’ve got waterfalls and lookouts, 160 km of graded walking paths, a Tree Top Boardwalk, a 180m flying fox, segway adventures, a birds of prey show, rainforest retreats and luxurious Eco-Villas.
Read more – Visiting O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
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
Ya’ll thought 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.
Read more – Meeting the Texas Longhorns
17. Slip into Maggie Island time
Maggie Island time is my kinda time. 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.
Read more – Things to do in Magnetic Island
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.
Read more – Getting to know Townseville
19. Explore Noosa National Park
It’s the National Park that keeps us going back to Noosa. We haven’t walked all the 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.
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.
Read more – Things to do in Noosa
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, enjoying sunset views from the marina, eating good food, partying and shopping. It’s a perfect base to head out to the reef from and explore more of the surrounding region.
Read more – Road trip from Port Douglas to Cape Trib
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 life guards. It’s a cool place to laze around, read your book and meet other travellers.
Read more – Things to do in Cairns
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.
Read more – Getaway to Great Keppel Island
24. 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 being in the evening when we looked at the stars through giant telescopes in the outside observatory. The Moon is amazing up close!
Read more – Contemplating the Cosmos in Charleville
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 lead by local larrikin Steve.
Read more – Go underground in Mount Isa
26. 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.
Read more – 3 things to do in Longreach
27. 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.
Read more – Why Winton is our favourite outback town
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 recently 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 worth while. Iconic Caxton Street is the place to be pre-game!
29. 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’s lovely walks here, and it’s one of the only places in the Sunshine State to experience a real winter.
Read more – Weekend getaway to the Bunya Mountains
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!
Read more – Chasing whales in Hervey Bay
31. 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, Undarra Lava Tubes, Cobbold Gorge and Boodjamalla National Park.
Read more – Ultimate guide to driving the Savannah Way
32. Drive 75 Mile Beach in a 4×4
Fraser Island stretches 123 kilometres long and 23 kilometres wide an 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 migrating whales, wild dingos, shipwrecks and much more!
33. 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.
Read more – Exploring Fraser Island
35. 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, and a visit to the Koala Hospital next door is something I recommend.
36. Go 4×4 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. 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. Horse riding on Rainbow Beach
Rainbow Beach has 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. Great Beach Drive – Noosa North Shore
Jumping in a four-wheel drive and taking on the Great Beach Drive from Noosa’s 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.
Read more – Australia’s best shortcut
41. Kayaking in the Town of 1770
1770 Liquid Adventures is owned by a couple who totally understand 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 a good old bubble busting fun. Their sunset tour sounds amazing!
42. 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. The pure white silica sand, the turquoise water, the National Park backdrop, the fusion of swirling colours seen from Hill Inlet lookout, the isolation. Just go!
Read more – Exploring Whitehaven Beach in The Whitsundays
43. Get pampered on Hayman Island, 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 pole position in getting to some of the best places on The Great Barrier Reef, it also offers a unique experience of tranquillity, indulgence and natural beauty.
Read more – Hayman Island will blow your mind
44. 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 is currently learning to surf with former World Champion Cheyne Horan’s Surf School.
46. Sunset at Snapper Rocks, Gold Coast
We love having a sunset beer at Rainbow Bay Surf Club that overlooks Snapper Rocks, it’s our favourtie 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’s 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, where the Daintree Rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef. It’s a nature lovers paradise.
Read more – Kayaking in paradise
48. Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge is at the southern most 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. 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.
Read more – Why Dreamworld is the best theme park
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. Lovely hikes, camping, night time star gazing talks, and one of the best places in Australia to see wild Kangaroos!
Read more – Go to Carnarvon Gorge you said
Plan Your Trip to Queensland
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