Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Queensland
The Great Barrier Reef is Australia's greatest natural treasure, and the world’s largest coral reef. This underwater wonderland stretches for 2,300 km (1,426 miles) from Bundaberg to Australia's northernmost tip. At its closest, it's only 30 km (18.5 miles) away from the Queensland coast.
The Great Barrier Reef encompasses almost 3,000 individual reefs. Their multicoloured beauty is made up of 400 types of living and dead coral polyps, home to around 1,500 species of fish, 4,000 breeds of clams, 500 types of seaweed, 200 species of birds, 1,500 different sponges and half a dozen varieties of turtles.
The Great Barrier Reef is also dotted with around 900 islands, including coral cays such as Green Island and Heron Island, along with the Whitsundays sand islands. Fringing reefs surround the islands, while the outer reef faces away from the mainland and islands and out to sea.
Visit Queensland’s first national park on Mount Tamborine, in the Gold Coast Hinterland region, to enjoy the natural wonders of eucalypt forests, palm groves, prehistoric volcanic rock outcrops and lush subtropical waterfalls.
Mount Tamborine National Park originated with the protection of the Witches Falls and has since expanded across the Tamborine plateau and surrounding foothills. Popular national park activities include walking the many mapped and marked bush trails, spotting Australian brush-turkeys and listening for the call of the threatened Albert’s lyrebird.
Once you’ve explored the natural wilderness of Mount Tambourine National Park, be sure to indulge in the boutique beers, local wines and specialty crafts from the Tambourine Mountain township, which is known as a luxury getaway destination and hang gliding hotspot.
Awe-inspiring Lake McKenzie is possibly one of the world’s most beautiful lakes. It is also one of the world’s least polluted and a swim in the crystal-clear freshwater will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
The lake is a “perched lake,” meaning it sits atop a sand dune where the sand and humus underneath have bonded into a concrete-like base. The lake isn't connected to streams or the ocean, which means all the water is pure rainwater. The sand also acts as a filter keeping the water clear, and makes for an amazing experience when relaxing in the lake.
Fraser Island is home to forty of the world’s eighty perched lakes, and like the many other freshwater lakes on the island, Lake McKenzie relies solely on rain for replenishment.
Brisbane is a city shaped by the river. It is a city of long walks in the summer dusk and riverside picnics on weekends. Bringing natural life to the urban scape, the Brisbane River is the site of many of Brisbane’s best attractions, events and everyday joys.
Popular activities on the Brisbane River include kayaking through the city at night, exploring the river on a CityCat, taking a dining river cruise or catching a local ferry to reach the opposite shore. Climbing the Kangaroo Point Cliffs on the river’s edge is a popular evening activity, and many residents and visitors alike enjoy climbing the famous Story Bridge, dining at South Bank by the water and relaxing with a drink at Eagle Street Pier.
You can also take a walk through the City Botanical Gardens that follow the northern river’s edge, see a live show at the famous Riverstage, look across the urban night from a Gallery of Modern Art ‘Up Late’ event, or read by the river.
Whether it’s from the ground or from the top, the Castle Hill views are some of the best in Townsville. Majestic pink mountains framed by palm trees climb into clear blue skies, making for picture-perfect landscape shots. And a network of challenging hiking trails—including the Goat Track—a local favorite, lead to vast, uninterrupted vantage points of the city down below. Travelers can look out over Magnetic Island, Townsville beaches, bustling ports and the flowing river. Whether it’s for fitness or for pleasure, a trek to the top of Castle Hill is a must when in the area.
Mangrove-dotted wetlands and eucalypt forests outline the pristine beaches of Eurimbula National Park in Agnes Water, where visitors can explore unspoiled Australia as they uncover this coastal wonderland. The melange of plant varieties and untouched botanicals attract hoards of wildlife, and with that, the park protects miles of coastal vegetation.
For a peaceful getaway, lounge by the beach or drop a lure in for some fishing and boating. Nature lovers may like to camp out and spend more time viewing the park’s various wildflowers and wildlife, including honeyeaters, powerful owls and turtles, while others may opt to scout out the terrain by following one of the trails, or get adventurous with a bushwalk. Many travelers choose to have picnics at the waterfront for a relaxing experience.
Deep in the heart of the rainforest near Cairns lies a real Spanish castle. Paronella Park was the brainchild of José Paronella, who – with dreams of building a castle and leisure gardens for the community to enjoy – began building his castle in the 1930s.
Paronella Park has undergone many constructions and reconstructions. Parts of the park have been destroyed by no less than three cyclones, a fire, and floods since José Paronella completed his park, but it has bounced back to relive its former glory. The park has won multiple awards for ecotourism, and is one of the most popular attractions around Cairns. Visiting Paronella Park today shows off the many original and restored features of José Paronella’s dream. Extensive tropical garden, picnic areas, tennis courts, a cinema, a ballroom and more are on show, including more modern additions such as a museum. There are over five hectares of gardens in which visitors can picnic.
What makes Whitehaven Beach so special? It's the silica. The sand on this 6km (4 mi) stretch of paradise is 98% silica, the powdered remains of a long-dead coral forest. That's what makes it so sugar-fine, radiantly white and slip-through-the-toes silky.
Of course, a beach doesn't keep its Best Beach awards and places in Top 10 lists through sand alone. Whitehaven teams its pristine whiteness with warm, lapping, peerlessly blue waves, a rainforest backing and Hill Inlet, which is famous for the play of colour as the tide washes in.
More Things to Do in Queensland
Beautiful Mossman Gorge is a special place for a swim on a hot day, with crystal-clear water tumbling over the rocks and boulders of the Mossman River.
The gorge is also popular with bushwalkers who come here to do the easy one-hour rainforest circuit walk or more strenuous treks through the national park.
The traditional owners of the gorge are the Kuku Yalanji, who offer Dreamtime walks and tours from their gallery en route to the park entrance.
The national parks center here is open on weekdays, with plenty of information about the gorge for visitors.
A multimedia experience engaging all of the senses, Infinity is a journey through mazes of special effects that create a dream-like atmosphere. Sound fields, lights, music, and visual illusions challenge the mind and stretch the imagination of those who navigate the funhouse.
There are 20 different environments, each with its own unique interactive experience. Ranging from a laser room to a time warp, electron maze, and inter-dimensional space, visitors are treated to a feast for all the senses throughout. The creator of Infinity has an art background, and the innovative and immersive displays on an “electronic canvas” push the boundaries of artistic expression, eliciting powerful emotional responses. Truly a unique experience, Infinity lives up to its name by altering one’s sense of time, space and what is possible.
Moreton Island is a peaceful retreat for day trippers and weekenders, right on Brisbane's door step. More than 90 percent of Moreton Island is protected as national park, and only 4WD (four-wheel drive) vehicles and walkers can access the beaches and trails. Spend days relaxing by pristine beaches, swim underwater to view the marine life, go wreck diving or try dune bashing across the sandy dunes.
Dolphins visit Tangalooma to be hand-fed by volunteers, and seasonal whale-watching cruises circle the island between June and October.
A popular tourist attraction, Eli Creek features a serene beauty with its crystal clear fresh waters and pearly white sand bottom. With over four million liters of water pouring from its mouth every hour, it is one of Fraser Island’s largest freshwater streams. Along with its beautiful beach location people enjoy visiting Eli Creek for a relaxing float down its pure waters. Its gentle current makes it a safe option for both adults and children. For those not interested in getting wet a scenic boardwalk allows you to walk around the creek on land.
As Eli Creek is located along Seventy-Five Mile Beach, visitors to Eli Creek can enjoy other attractions onsite. Along with off-roading, fishing and sunbathing there’s the onshore Maheno wreck, which was once one of the fastest ships in the world and was used by the Australian Airforce for target practice during WWII. Additionally, the Champagne Pools provide safe saltwater swimming in an enclosed natural rock pool.
This stretch of soft white sand is aptly named Seventy-Five Mile Beach due to the fact that it’s 75 miles (121 kilometers) long. Running along majority of Fraser Island’s east coast, the beach offers a number of experiences, although swimming is not advised due to the high number of tiger sharks. That being said off-roading and fishing are popular pastimes on the beach, as is visiting its many attractions. If you are wanting to swim safely there are the Champagne Pools, natural rock pools that feature frothy Champagne-like bubbles when waves crash over the rocks.
Additionally, Indian Head is a rocky outcrop popular for watching stingrays, fish, turtles, dolphins and sharks in the surf. Visitors can also visit the Maheno Wreck, once one of the world’s fastest ships and used for target practice by the Australian Airforce in WWII.
Central Station Rainforest, once the central hub for the forestry department on Fraser Island, is a stunning and lush forest located on Wanggoolba Creek of Fraser Island - one of the most scenic areas on the island!
Since the logging industry's departure in the late 1950s, Central Station is a popular picnic and camping spot for tourists with an information center which provides a history of the island and tips on the flora and fauna in the area.
Home to many specifies of plants, Central Station rainforest houses the massive Angiopteris ferns, which has the largest fern fronds in the world. Giant satinay and kauri trees also grow around the forest.
The massive kauris have a soaring trunk and branches only start at the very top; these trees were prized as masts in the days of sailing boats. Satinay trees are regarded as biological marvels since the sand they grow in contain very little nutrients.
The Whitsundays Passage is the waterway that carves through the middle of the Whitsunday Islands in the heart of northwestern Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. These famous islands, perhaps some of Australia's most popular tourist attractions, are named after the passage, which was given its title by the famed explorer Captain James Cook in 1770. The area was discovered on Whitsun, a Sunday feast day held seven weeks after Easter, thus resulting in the name. However, since the international dateline has now been established, it is now said that the day Cook discovered this passage would have actually been a Monday.
Within Whitsunday Passage, there are 74 islands in total, with the largest simply known as Whitsunday Island. Most of these islands have remained uninhabited or are, at the very least, protected by a vast system of national parks. The oldest settlement in the Whitsundays is the town of Bowen, settled in 1861.
Fraser Island is both the largest sand island in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sitting off of the Sunshine Coast, it stretches over 123km (76mi) long, and every inch is a haven of sandy beaches and stunning cliff faces.
Home to the famous dingo, Fraser Island is also host to over 300 different species of bird as well as wallabies, possums, dugongs, flying foxes, and turtles. Nature lovers will enjoy the unique wildlife composition that the island offers as well as the gorgeous climate.
While you're visiting, be sure to visit Lake Mackenzie, the "crown jewel" of Fraser Island. The crystalline blue waters and shimming white sands make it one of the most popular tourist destinations.
For a taste of history, check out the Maheno Shipwreck, which occurred in 1935. Just north of the beautiful freshwater Eli Creek, learn about the true strength of the sea on this incredible passenger steamer.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Surfers Paradise is one of the wackiest attractions on Queensland’s Gold Coast. A collection of the weird and wonderful, it’s a prime attraction for kids, with displays you can’t see anywhere else in the world. Ripley’s Surfers Paradise does just that. Covering 9,000 square feet, the museum hosts over 400 exhibits and artifacts in 15 themed galleries. Ripley’s is home to shrunken heads, a toilet paper wedding dress, an exhibit on the world’s tallest man, double spinning tunnels, the world’s smallest car and more. The museum is founded around Ripley’s famous quote: ‘I have traveled 201 countries and the strangest thing I’ve seen… is man.' Journeying through the Odditorium is self-guided. Touring the museum takes, in general, at least an hour, though visitors are welcome to spend as long as they like walking through the exhibits. Guests are welcome to bring cameras as well.
Things to do near Queensland
- Things to do in Noosa & Sunshine Coast
- Things to do in Cairns & the Tropical North
- Things to do in Brisbane
- Things to do in Port Douglas
- Things to do in Gold Coast
- Things to do in Hervey Bay
- Things to do in Rainbow Beach
- Things to do in Aeroglen
- Things to do in New South Wales
- Things to do in Victoria
- Things to do in South Australia
- Things to do in Byron Bay
- Things to do in Hunter Valley
- Things to do in Northern Territory
- Things to do in Tasmania