Because of its warm weather, Queensland is often called the ‘Sunshine State’. It’s Australia’s second largest state in area, after Western Australia. As much of Queensland is in the tropics, there are huge tracts of rainforest, verdant farming land, and a coastline dominated by long golden beaches and the Great Barrier Reef.
You can easily spend many weeks exploring a place as large and welcoming as Queensland, but a seven-day dip will show off some of its major highlights.
Take an early flight from Brisbane to Cairns. Walk along the Cairns Esplanade and take a refreshing dip in the lagoon before heading out to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.
You can learn about local Aboriginal history and culture here, watch dances and Didgeridoo demonstrations, try boomerang throwing, and discover Aboriginal medicine and bushtucker foods.
Today it’s time to see the Great Barrier Reef. The trip to the outer reef takes about two hours. Go snorkelling or diving, ride glass-bottomed boats, or take a spectacular scenic flight. The Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder, and immersing yourself in the warm water among the amazing coral formations and colourful fish is an extraordinary experience.
You could stay overnight or longer on one of the many Barrier Reef islands. One of these is Green Island, where you can go snorkelling or scuba diving, laze on white sand beaches, indulge in a day spa, take a scenic helicopter flight, go parasailing, see the world’s largest captive crocodile, and walk underwater with a helmet on.
As well as the Reef, this area of Queensland is known for its rainforests. One of the best is the Daintree. A tour from Cairns could include a wildlife cruise along the Daintree River, tropical fruit tasting, a stroll though World heritage-listed rainforest, and a swim in the dramatic Mossman Gorge.
Another option would be a day tour to Kuranda - a ‘village in the rainforest’. Attractions here include Kuranda’s craft market, rainforest walks, and the Skyrail – a gondola that travel above the rainforest canopy.
You can see plenty of koalas at the Kuranda Koala Gardens, while Birdworld is home to the largest collection of free flying birds in Australia. Meanwhile, the Butterfly Sanctuary is home to Australia’s largest butterfly flight aviary and exhibit.
For everything from tropical fruit and wildlife tours to Aboriginal culture and more native animals, visit the Rainforestation Nature Park.
Travel back to Cairns on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. This spectacular journey offers panoramic views of dense rainforest, steep ravines and gorges, and picturesque waterfalls.
Fly back to Brisbane today. The capital of Queensland offers a laid-back lifestyle and convict-built heritage buildings. Take in the panoramic city views Mount Coot-tha Lookout, and take a stroll through the South Bank Parklands.
Other Brisbane attractions include the Queensland Art Gallery, with its associated Gallery of Modern Art, and the Lone Pine Koala sanctuary. There are around 130 koalas here, as well as other Australian marsupials and birds. Return to the city by boat along the Brisbane River.
Day 5 and 6
You could travel south to day to explore the rainforest at Lamington National Park and the stunning beaches of the Gold Coast. Or, you could head north on a two-day tour of World Heritage-listed Fraser Island.
Here you’ll find long white beaches flanked by strikingly coloured sand cliffs, over 100 freshwater lakes ringed by sand, ancient rainforests, crystal-clear creeks and mangrove swamps.
There are 47 other species of mammals on Fraser Island, including dingos, swamp wallabies, and sugar gliders. The wide variety of habitat also supports 70 species of reptile – including huge lace monitors. More than 354 species of birds have been sighted here too.
Dolphins, dugongs, turtles and giant rays are common, while from July to November you can easily spot migrating humpback whales.
Two island resorts offer a range of accommodation options, from budget to luxury. Stay the second night back on the mainland in Noosa.
You could spend the morning lazing on Noosa Beach. It’s a wonderful long stretch of sand. Or, you could climb aboard a boat and go fishing for giant snapper, Spanish mackerel, tuna, or even marlin and sailfish.
On your way back to Brisbane stop off at Noosa National Park, which features spectacular coastal scenery and is home to lots of koalas. Several walking tracks take visitors through open forest, paperbark swamps, heathland, and rainforests.