Koala cuddling, rainforest waterfalls, dramatic beaches, and the largest most spectacular reef on the planet.

Way to the south of the state are Brisbane, a major city, international travel hub and launching point for destinations beyond. Stick around long enough to hold a koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and visit Australia Zoo, the country’s most famous, fascinating Steve-Irwin-founded animal park. Or skip 2.5 hours away to Lamington National Park to see some of the same animals in the wild rainforest.

Outside of Brisbane are beaches galore. There is the Gold Coast, Australia’s up-till-dawn nightlife answer to Miami Beach. Up north is the Sunshine Coast, home of the charming beach town of Noosa. And farther to the north is Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, an off-roading paradise.

Take a short flight to Airlie Beach, gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. Set out on a barefoot sailing cruise (for days if you like) at the far southern edge of the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkel amid clownfish and coral. Pull in for lunch at Whitehaven Beach — a spectacular and pristine swirl of fine white sand and teal tropical waters.

On to Cairns, in the northern part of the state. The Great Barrier Reef is a few hours offshore. Climb into a glass bottom boat, bite into your snorkel or pull on your scuba suit — just make sure you see this natural wonder. As you swim with darting, multicolored fish be sure to look at the coral waving in the currents. The reef is by some measures the largest living thing in the world. Take a day trip from your resort or take your time, dipping into the water again and again from your liveaboard boat.

Onshore, take in the beaches of Port Douglas, Palm Cove and Cairns — each with their own distinctive vibe. Draw in a deep breathe then head inland to Daintree National Park, the world’s oldest living rainforest. The jungle is 130 million years old. (For reference, dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago.) Hike through the jungle and swim under waterfalls, playing in the footsteps of giants.

Queensland – Top Activities

Swim the Great Barrier Reef
Wander the oldest rainforest in the world
Cuddle a koala
Kick back on an awesome array of epic beaches

Map of Australia

Illustrated Map of Australia - Australia Best Places to Visit - Click to View Full Size

Courtesy of Tourism Australia. Click to view full-size map.

Hot Air Balloon Over Yarra Valley Vineyards. Image: Tourism Victoria
Cradle Mountain at Sunrise. Image: Tourism Tasmania
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