Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Queensland
Encompassing roughly 3,000 individual reefs and dotted with almost 900 islands and coral cays (small sandy isles), Australia's Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most unforgettable natural treasures. Snorkelers and certified divers flock here to see the unparalleled array of marine life.
All roads in central Townsville eventually lead to The Strand. As the city’s most beautiful and popular beach, The Strand is the sparkling centerpiece of Townsville’s golden coast. Even better, it has twice been voted “Australia’s Cleanest Beach” for its tidy, modern facilities. Take a jog on the walking paths that weave along the coast, or plan an afternoon barbecue or picnic on the park’s expansive lawn.
Fishermen gather at the northern end, in front of Kissing Point Fort, as bathers wade in the famous Rock Pool that faces out to sea. If it’s “stinger” season for Queensland’s box jellies, the section of beach just south of the pool has stinger nets and lifeguards. Waves are rarely an issue here, and it’s easy to simply float on your back and feel the sun on your face. For an extended trip when walking The Strand, make the climb up to Kissing Point Fort, where views stretch out to Magnetic Island and the vast Pacific beyond. The passenger ferry to Magnetic Island also departs from The Strand, and families will enjoy the large waterpark that’s perfect for children. Add in roadside cafés and restaurants just steps from the manicured grounds, and it’s easy to see why the famous Strand is the most happening place in town.
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.
The sand surrounding the lake is pure silica so you can wash your hair with it or exfoliate your skin, perfect if you’ve been camping for days. There are a lot of delightful picnic areas and stunning beaches around the lake, which makes it perfect for an afternoon trip or a multiple day excursion.
Located in the Gold Coast Hinterlands, Tamborine National Park is known for its natural beauty, rich biodiversity, and breathtaking views over the Gold Coast and the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Scenic Rim to the west. Queensland’s first national park, Tamborine is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.
The Brisbane River winds its way through the heart of the city, from the neighborhoods of South Brisbane all the way to Moreton Bay. The river is also a center of local life, and residents and visitors alike enjoy the many waterfront parks and landmarks, riverside walks, and sightseeing cruises.
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.
With its powder-white silica sands, gleaming turquoise waters, and fringe of lush rainforest, it’s little surprise that Whitehaven is one of Australia’s most photographed beaches. Stretching for almost 3 miles (5 kilometers) along the coast of Whitsunday Island, it’s a magnificent sight and an idyllic spot for swimming and snorkelling.
Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures introduces visitors to Australia’s most famous reptiles (and other native species) through an informative and educational day out. Visitors can observe crocs on a cruise through a lagoon mimicking the creatures’ natural habitat and learn how crocodiles are sustainably farmed.
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, a café offering local produce and even camping grounds.
Marking the southern border of Daintree National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mossman Gorge is one of the most popular places to experience the world’s oldest rain forest. Dating back more than 130 million years, the dense forest and scenic river gorge harbor a rich biodiversity and provide a stunning backdrop for hikers and swimmers.
More Things to Do in Queensland
Known as the “River of Mirrors,” the Noosa Everglades is one of Queensland’s most stunning natural landscapes and one of only two everglades systems on Earth. This stretch of wetlands, mangrove forests, and lakes is part of Cooloola National Park and harbors a rich diversity of flora and birdlife.
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.
Castle Hill is a 938-foot (286-meter), pink granite, heritage-listed hill that stands behind central Townsville. It’s a popular lookout point with sweeping views of Townsville, the ocean, and Magnetic Island. The hill also offers 15 different hiking trails of various levels of difficulty.
Part of the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Gondwana Rainforests, the startling landscapes of Springbrook National Park are among the many highlights of Queensland’s Gold Coast Hinterlands. Carved out by an ancient volcano, the rugged plateau is now a natural wonderland of forested gorges, jagged cliffs, and cascading waterfalls.
With its miles of sun-bleached sandy beaches, towering sand dunes, shimmering lagoons, and pockets of wild bushland, Moreton Island feels a world away from nearby Brisbane. As the third largest sand island in the world and a national park, Moreton Island makes for a perfect day trip when you want to get in touch with nature.
When most people think of Noosa Heads, it's surf, sunshine, and shopping that come to mind. And while this Queensland beach town is definitely famous for its waves and glitzy boutiques, it's also home to Noosa National Park and its 10 miles of coastal walking trails.
The most popular section of the park is right on Noosa Headland, accessible by simply following the boardwalk that runs along Noosa Main Beach. A paved walking trail hugs the coast and runs in the direction of Hell's Gate, where it's possible to spot turtles and humpback whales from the panoramic viewpoint.
The network of trails continues all the way down to Sunshine Beach, and there's even a chance travelers will spot wild koalas as they clamber and climb through the treetops. In addition, the bird-watching in the East Weyba section of park is some of the best in southeastern Queensland, although most visitors stick to Noosa Heads and the coastal sections of track.
History comes alive at the Workshops Rail Museum—affectionately known as The Workshops in Ipswich, Queensland. The site from which the state’s very first train ran over 145 years ago, The Workshops celebrates its heritage with a living museum.
Opening as a rail museum in 2002, The Workshops combines hands-on exhibits with the experience of witnessing the oldest continually running railway workshop in Australia. The museum features 15 permanent exhibits, depicting subjects from the introduction of diesel trains, to the great Australian rail journeys, to a children’s interactive railway, and more. The Workshops boasts such drawcards as the largest model railway in Australia, the Vice Regal Carriage—the most expensive built in its time—and the country’s oldest working steam locomotive.
This stretch of soft white sand is aptly named 75 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 theMaheno Wreck, once one of the world’s fastest ships and used for target practice by the Australian Airforce in WWII. After a bad storm in 1935 it was pushed to the beach’s shore as it was being towed to Japan to be scrapped. And no trip to 75 Mile Beach would be complete without experiencing Eli Creek, a crystal clear freshwater creek where you can enjoy a relaxing float. Something else interesting about 75 Mile Beach is it’s not just used for recreation, but also as a highway and runway, as the hard-packed sand makes for great off-roading and planes often land here.
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 onshoreMaheno 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 with foaming Champagne-like bubbles when the waves crash. Make sure to also go to Indian Head to see the many sharks, dolphins, stingrays and fish swimming through the water.
Central Station, once the central hub for the forestry department on Fraser Island, is a stunning and lush rainforest area 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 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 area around Wanggoolba Creek not far from Central Station is one of the loveliest swathes of rainforest. There are paths in the surrounding rainforest where you can get up close to the palms and learn about the creatures and plants that inhabit the area.
The Maheno Shipwreck sits starkly rusting against the pristine sands of Cathedral Beach, a majestic and haunting site. The SSMaheno was built in 1904 in Scotland and was originally a world-class luxury liner. She became a hospital ship in the Mediterranean during WW1 after which she was purchased for the run between New Zealand and Australia.
In 1935, while being towed to Japan for scrap metal, a cyclone blew her ashore onto Fraser Island. Luckily, there were only a few crew members on board, who tried unsuccessfully to free her. Since then, three and a half stories of the ship have been buried below the sand.
After being used for bombing practice during WW2, the Maheno wreck was in pretty bad shape and has since rusted away. Still, she is an impressive site and is occasionally used as a kooky, lopsided wedding venue.
Sprawling over more than 360,000 hectares, the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia form one of Australia’s most important ecological sites, famed for its abundance of rare and endangered wildlife.
Protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Gondwana rainforest areas are mostly found along the coastal region of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales and encompass more than 50 national parks, forests and reserves.
The most visited Gondwana Rainforests include the Lamington National Park, Tamborine Mountain National Park and Border Ranges National Park in Queensland, and Springbrook National Park, Dorrigo National Park and Mount Warning National Park in New South Wales. Within the parks, hiking, climbing and camping are among the favorite pastimes of visitors, with a vast network of walking trails and an abundance of natural landmarks, including the mighty Tweed Volcano. For nature enthusiasts, the main draw is the spectacular variety of wildlife, including endemic species like Hastings river mouse, spotted-tailed quoll and mountain tree frog, and rare birds including wompoo dove, marbled frogmouth and lyre bird.
Magical, enchanting and serene are just a few of the adjectives people use to describe Wanggoolba Creek. A fresh water creek containing crystal waters cascading through lush rainforest over white sugar granules, you’ll be amazed at how fertile an island made of sand can be. In appearance Wanggoolba Creek is similar to Eli Creek, however, has a much less touristy vibe, retaining an air of peace. Those who enjoy biology will be interested to know the spot contains a beautiful and rare King Fern or Giant Fern.
Feeling stressed or need to relax? Wading in the creek’s still and lucid waters is said to have calming effect. Another option is to enjoy a leisurely hike along a walkway around the creek’s perimeters, a favorite for photographers. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the scenery, and stop in the visitor center to learn more about the area.
For many travelers to the Gold Coast hinterland, a trip to the interior means hiking, birding, or searching for thundering falls. In the case of Tamborine Mountain, however, a small town on an elevated plateau of about 1,700 feet, visitors travel from all over the Gold Coast for the chance to shop at the Gallery Walk. On this festive, shop-lined, action-packed strip, visitors will find over 70 stores full of crafts, clothing and art, as well as restaurants, wine shops, cheese shops, chocolate shops, coffee shops, and houses for tea. Peruse the boutiques for everything from crystals to original, Aboriginal art, or pick up imports like Nepalese scarves or fine, German made clocks. Given the number of visitors about town, it’s also common to find talented musicians performing out on the street, and if you’re completely smitten with the entire experience and one day isn’t enough, a number of charming bed and breakfasts are just a short walk away.
- 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