Are you traveling through the sunshine state and looking for the best Queensland Adventures you can find? Well, look no further than the 15 different ideas we have for you today. With the Australian state covering 1.8 square kilometers in size, it’s hard to pick just 15, but you have some of the highlights to suit any kind of traveler. These locations stretch from the coastal route between the Gold Coast and Cairns, while also traveling into the outback for those unusual spots.
Join a holiday to remember with National Parks, tourist hubs, and swimming at beaches in our best Queensland Adventures list.
North Stradbroke Island
The lovely North Stradbroke Island ( Or Minjerribah) is about 275 square kilometers in size with a local population of 2000 people. About fifty percent of the island is National Park and belongs to the Quandamooka people, who are the original owners.
It’s located just off the coast of Queensland and an easy day trip from Brisbane with over 300 thousand tourists visiting each year. Most people will enjoy the beachside camping, crystal clear waters for swimming, wildlife interactions, fishing, and surfing.
Apart from that, the residents have built up a small country town with plenty of facilities, shopping, groceries, and local cafes and gift stores. You can explore the National Park and lap up the luxury in beachside accommodations.
Queensland Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is located in the Southeast corner of Queensland and is the largest non-capital city of Australia. This is due to the 10 million tourists visiting each year wanting a beachside holiday, surfing, swimming, and action-adventure activities.
Not only that, but the Gold Coast hinterland is a day trip away for hiking, waterfalls, and a great way to explore some UNESCO-listed National Parks. You will never be limited to things to do and lots of budget-friendly ideas. However, get the biggest thrill visiting the major theme parks like Dreamworld, SeaWorld, Movieworld, and White Water World.
Rainbow Beach is a small country town located along the coast of Queensland and hosts over 70,000 tourists each year. Ultimately, this is your first gateway point to the largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island. So many stunning sites here like Lake McKenzie, Eli Creek, The Maheno Shipwreck, and the Pinnacle’s rock formation.
However, Rainbow Beach does have its draw cards with colored sands, amazing cliffs, dunes, and freshwater swimming spots like Poona Lake. Stretch the legs off on your four-wheel drive and take a spin down the beach to find your isolated location.
Carnarvon Gorge National Park
The Carnarvon Gorge National Park is generally explored over a few days but has one large main hike that can be completed in a day. The return track along the Gorge is 19.4 kilometers and will take about 7 hours to complete. However, there are stunning sites to see along the way, and takes extra time to see them.
The highlights on your list should be the amphitheater and the Moss Garden, and these can easily be done in a day. Visiting other sites like the Cathedral, Wards Canyon, Boolimba Bluff, and Boowinda Gorge will have you exploring slot canyons, untouched plant life, and aboriginal rock paintings.
The city of Cairns is your major internal gateway for our northern Queensland adventures, with a population of over 150 thousand people. This is a brilliant spot to explore places like Kuranda, Daintree National Park, and many different waterfalls.
You can take a day trip on the Kuranda Rail through the mountain to visit a small tourist village and experience the local surroundings. Take a different route down on the Skyrail Gondola and watch the rainforest through your feet. About an hour outside of Cairns is the Waterfalls circuit and one of the most photographed waterfalls in Australia, Millaa Millaa Falls. Along with Ellinjaa Falls and Zillie Falls, you can make a day of it with some outdoor swimming fun.
Great Barrier Reef
Can you believe that the Great Barrier Reef is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and can be seen from space? It stretches 2300 kilometers from Port Douglas in the North to Bundaberg in the South. There are 3000 individual reefs, 600 Continental Island, 300 coral cays, and 150 mangroves, making it the biggest reef system in the world.
The Great Barrier Reef can be visited by day trips, or Island stays all along the coast, but the most popular would be from Port Douglas, Cairns, and Airlie Beach. The Whitsunday network contains 74 different Islands with resort facilities and many different water activities to keep you entertained. Experience a chance to dive into this amazing reef system or snorkel to see the local underwater life.
Big Red Sand Dune
Yes, there are dunes in Australia, and these can be accessed about 30 minutes outside of Birdsville for our Outback Queensland adventures. The Big Red Sand Dune is the first and largest of 1100 dunes, running parallel into the state of the Northern Territory. From the top, you can view the desolate valleys, find wildflowers, or even challenge yourself to drive up and over.
It’s one of those Bucketlist items to do in Australia, being on top of the Sand Dune. Consequently, the sunsets and sunrises are magical to witness while seeing the wind from the sand ripples on the dunes. This is a must-do with a Four-Wheel drive, but tours are available if you don’t want to drive up yourself.
The city of Bundaberg is well known around the world for the famous Bundaberg Rum. Not only that, but producing Ginger Beer at Bundaberg Brewed drinks, many stunning beaches like Woodgate, and appreciating the long history and architecture in town.
If you’re visiting from November to March, then you might have the chance to see loggerhead turtles laying eggs on the beach. Alternatively, see the baby turtles hatch and make their way down the beach into the water. This is a unique experience and one of the best Queensland adventures to see along the coast.
Another popular wildlife experience would be at Cape Hillsborough, about an hour north of Mackay. This is where you can experience wild kangaroos and wallabies from the surrounding bushland, coming to feed on the beach at sunrise. The high tides leave behind sea pods and seaweed on the beach, which are a part of the Kangaroo’s daily diet.
Visitor numbers have increased over the years for this experience and are controlled by the Mackay Tourist Rangers to ensure the safety and well-being of the kangaroos. Consequently, you will need a very early start and need to be down at the beach while it’s still dark, to watch the first light and the sunrise. Shortly after, the kangaroos will jump away into the bushland until the next day.
The season for Cobbold Gorge is around April to October each year during the dry season and is located in Northern Outback Queensland. This is a private cattle farm that hosts tours and accommodations around the Gorge. These include a boat tour through the gorge waterways, a land tour of the surrounding bush, including walking over the gorge on a glass bridge, and also paddle boarding.
Each experience will have you amazed and bewildered over the beauty of Cobbold Gorge. This slot canyon has been formed over thousands of years of water erosion and has incredibly smooth walls. In addition, the Glass bridge is a must-do, but only if you are not afraid of heights or able to walk over the glass.
Charlotte Plains Station
Charlotte Plains Station is a privately owned farming property that’s created a very unique hot artesian bath experience. The water comes from the Great Artesian Basin, which is a natural water source created under the ground. This basin is 1.7 million square kilometers in size and stretches over most of Queensland, through South Australia, Northern Territory, and New South Wales.
Camping is the easiest when visiting Charlotte Plains, but there are cabin options if it’s more convenient. Once you’re there, they have old-school bathtubs set up along the creek and can be filled with naturally sourced hot water. The benefits are endless but start with relieving joint pain, and nerve trouble, helping to sleep, stress relief, or skin and muscle relaxation.
Magnetic Island is just one of the islands you can visit in North Queensland and has 2000 people permanently living there. It’s only a 30-minute ferry ride away from Townsville and can be visited on a day trip from the mainland.
Several different hiking trails can have you learning about World War 2 remnants. Additionally, seeing local wildlife like Koalas in the trees and rock wallabies jumping over the boulders. Along with several amazing beaches with some beautiful calm waters for swimming, snorkeling, or paddle boarding. The Island is fully equipped with various water crafts, accommodations, and complete facilities for enjoying a longer vacation.
Let the town of Winton take you back in time, millions of years ago when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. This happens to be a major region where fossils have been found and they now teach tourists how they dig them up, prepare for transport, and eventually display them in museums.
The Age of Dinosaurs exhibit has been set up and visited by hundreds of tourists each day in this isolated town. Some of the bones found are huge, and it can take years to dig these bones up. However, this process has taught everyone about the size of the dinosaurs and how many different species lived in the Winton region.
Porcupine Gorge National Park
The Porcupine Gorge is known as Australia’s Little Grand Canyon and contains a large Pyramid Rock formation along the creek bed. It’s located in northern Outback Queensland, and the National Park is about 54 Square kilometers in size.
The gorge itself is about 25 kilometers long, and eroding water has carved the sandstone cliff edges into what you see today. During the dry season between April and October, you can hike into Porcupine Gorge and walk along the creek bed. Holes are carved into the floor and can make great swimming spots while showing some artistic ways the erosion has formed the area.
We are ending our Queensland Adventures in the Capital city of Brisbane. Over 2 million people are living here and your major international gateway city. It’s always great to start or end a trip here with a few days to explore and see what the city has to offer.
Drive up to Mount Coot-tha and enjoy the lookout point and views over the city, especially at sunrise. There are man-made beaches, parklands, and museums at Southbank. Alternatively, you can drive to Bribie Island or a day trip off the mainland to Moreton Island or Tangalooma Resort. However you want to enjoy Brisbane, you are sure to find plenty to do, or relax.