Queensland, Australia (Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, The Great Barrier Reef...)

Sunrise in Tropical Northern Queensland
Sunrise in Tropical Northern Queensland

Queensland is the second largest of Australia's states occupying an area of 667,000 square miles. The hot, topical climate makes Queensland a very popular vacation destination for Australians and international visitors. If you are looking for a warm, sunny, even tropical vacation, Queensland is for you. Queensland is located in Australia's north east and will give you access to the world famous Great Barrier Reef. Queensland also offers tropical rainforests as well as the beaches and islands.

These are some of the world's oldest rainforests and they can be seen by hiking and other tours such as 4 wheel drive tours

Most of the population is located along the beautiful coastline because of the abundant beaches, but there is life in Queensland's interior. Much of the economy of Queensland depends on the interior farmlands, cattle stations and mines. For vacation purposes, stay along the coastal areas.

The Whitsunday Islands
The Whitsunday Islands

Queensland summers are hot and can be wet. The winters are more pleasant and may be the best time to visit. The southern winter months to visit are typically June through August.

Some Key Attractions:

The Great Barrier Reef was formed about 9,000 years ago after the last ice age. The coral can only grow below the water level and therefore as the ice melted, the water level increased and the coral formed the reef. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef system in the world stretching for 1,250 miles and occupying an area of 135,000 square miles.

There is a diverse aquatic life on the reef with an estimated 2,000 types of fish and 500 species of coral polyps not to mention the bird life as well. The spectacular colours of the fish and coral make The Great Barrier Reef a favorite for divers from all over the world.

One of the best ways to access the reef is via the towns of Cairns and Townsville. There are also many island resorts. Some of the islands are Bedara Island, Brampton Island, Daydream Island, Dunk Island, Fitzroy Island, Great Keppel Island, Green Island, Hamilton Island, Hayman Island, Heron Island, Lady Elliott Island, Lizard Island, Long Island, Magnetic Island and Orpheus Island. Information on most of these islands can be accessed here at Click for Australia. These islands belong to a group of islands called The Whitsunday Islands. The Whitsundays are a great place to scuba dive, snorkel, sail or just relax on a cruise. There are 74 tropical islands and 7 of these have resorts. The Whitsundays have the same latitude as Hawaii in the northern hemisphere.

Cairns is a small tropical city in the north of Queensland located between rainforest and mountains and the sea. Its is is the primary gateway to Northern Australia. Cairns is 1,807 kilometres (approximately 1,100 miles) from Brisbane which gives you an idea of how large Queensland is. Islands such Green and Fitzroy Islands are a short trip away. Most of the tourism is based on the Great Barrier Reef and water sports but there is also a Casino and separate Convention Centre as well.

Townsville is a tropical city located in the north of Queensland. The climate is warm and sunny with 300 days a year of sunshine. It is a great venue for sailing, cruises, snorkeling and scuba diving. Magnetic Island is just 20 minutes by ferry from Townsville. Magnetic Island is a large continental island lying just off the mainland from Townsville. With a population of 2000 spread out over several villages, it has 23 secluded beaches and coves with fringing coral reefs lying just offshore. Other islands in the Townsville area include Bedarra Island, Dunk Island, Hinchinbrook Island and Orpheus Island.

Port Douglas has become an international holiday mecca - just 70 kilometres north of Cairns. With nothing taller than a palm tree, development is low-rise, low-key and relaxing. It is regarded as the most popular base from which to explore the northern areas of the reef and rainforest coast of Daintree and Cape Tribulation.

Daintree: About 80 km (50 miles) north of Cairns begins the largest virgin tract of rainforest in Australia. This lush, tropical vegetation of the World Heritage listed Wet Tropic rainforests is a living testimonial to the ancient rainforests which once covered the earths surface.

Cape Tribulation is an area north of Daintree, which is the end of the paved road. The Daintree Ferry provides access into the Cape Tribulation area. This is accessible by conventional vehicles except during periods of heavy rain. Coach tours and a bus service also visit this area. Some hire car companies insist on four wheel drive vehicles. Cape tribulation is one area where the rainforest runs right down to the water. It is a pristine beautiful area with magnificent beaches. The rainforests here are now protected by World Heritage Laws so tourists have the privledge of visiting unspoilt virgin rainforest. Attractions inlcude rainforest & bush walks, Cape Tribulation Beach, Marrdja Botanical Walk and Coconut Beach & Resort.

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The Gold Coast is a modern series of towns located on miles of beaches on the south east coast of Queensland. Hotels and resorts are plentiful on the Gold Coast which is located about one hour's drive south of Brisbane.

People come here from all over Australia and the world to vacation in the sun and surf. Not unlike Florida, the Gold Coast attracts thousands of retirees. The warm winter climate makes this suitable for older folks who do not like the southern winters. However, don't be fooled by this, as there is plenty to do for the younger crowd. Clubs, restaurants and pubs are plentiful and outdoor activities such as surfing are ideal on the Gold Coast.

In the heart of the Gold Coast, there is the town called Surfer's Paradise which is a strip of high rise buildings that were built during the boom years in the 1970's and 1980's much to the protest and disappointment of many. This is where many people stay on vacation because of an abundance of accommodation and activities.

Some of the main attractions include Seaworld, Warner Brothers Movie World, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and Dreamworld all of which make the Gold Coast an ideal vacation spot for families. Currumbin Sanctuary is 12 miles south of Surfer's Paradise where you can feed and pat some of the local Australian wildlife such as brightly coloured lorikeets (birds), kangaroos and wallabies. At night you may want to try your luck at the Jupiter's Casino or just relax in one of the many restaurants.

The best way to get to the Gold Coast is to fly into Coolangatta Airport. Driving is possible but it is a long drive from other cities such as Sydney. You can also fly into Brisbane airport and drive from there. Qantas has many daily services to Coolangatta and Brisbane.

The Sunshine Coast: Queensland's Sunshine Coast is located to the north of Brisbane and is made up of several resort towns. It stretches for 25 miles along the coast and is a mix of beautiful beaches and rocky headlands. The Sunshine Coast is not as developed as the Gold Coast and therefore the lifestyle is more relaxed.

The main town on the Sunshine Coast is Noosa. Noosa has a nice selection of restaurants and exclusive boutiques. It is a somewhat fashionable resort. Other towns in the area include Noosa Heads.

Inland from the resort beaches there are the Glasshouse Mountains. These mountains rise sharply from the Queensland Hinterland to over 1,600 feet. They are 10 volcanic cones that were formed 20 million years ago. Today, they provide a challenge for rock climbers and a great view for tourists.

Brisbane: The largest city is Brisbane which is a popular place to live for many Australians because of the warm climate. Brisbane is the third largest city in Australia with a population of approximately 1.5 million people. Brisbane was established as a penal colony when Sydney required another settlement for it's convicts.

Key sites in Brisbane are generally historic in nature. Examples are City Hall, Old Government House, Anzac Square and St. Stephen's Cathedral. For a closer look at the local flora and fauna you may want to consider the Botanic Gardens and the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Of course, like many of Australia's cities, Brisbane is a hub for great wining and dining.

The best way to get to Brisbane is to fly. Domestic carriers such as Qantas fly to Brisbane daily. You can drive from other major cities but it is a long way.

Fraser Island: One of the most incredible sand islands in the world, Fraser Island, is not found in the exotic tropics - but rather in South-East Queensland. Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island - measuring an incredible 184,000 hectares and stretching over 120km offshore from the Fraser Coast.

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