Page 1

Travel ideas

Travel ideas

QLD issue

the magazine for travellers, explorers & daydreamers



Best beaches

from buzzy to secluded to simply stunning

Q U E E N S L A N D S P E C I A L / Issue # 3

Natural encounters

get to know queensland’s cutest critters


Food safari / Road trippin’ / Family fun AND LOADS MORE INSIDE


Travel ideas


The stunning Wallaman Falls in the Heritagelisted Wet Tropics, North Queensland.


is a 46 Life highway

at t h e f r o n t

of 04 Map Queensland

Explore the sunny state from behind the wheel.

Where we’ve been and what we’ve seen.


06 Travel desk

The latest Queensland news bites: digital detox, luxe beach shacks, record breakers and we chat to My Kitchen Rules’ Elle and Jake Harrison.

10 My Queensland What do celebs really think of the Sunshine State?

Photos © Gold Coast Tourism,; cover: Mark Clinton Photo Photo; inside back cover: Corbis; back cover: Tourism and Events Queensland.

Welcome to the latest edition of Travel ideas, in which we shine

the spotlight on beautiful, sunny Queensland. Aussies love a Queensland getaway – and who could blame them? The state is jam-packed with some of the most iconic landscapes and waters in the world. From Roma to the Reef, Queensland has a pretty eclectic mix of red dirt and crystal-clear waters for a ‘choose your own adventure’ holiday like no other. The features in this issue showcase just how versatile Queensland is as a holiday destination. There aren’t too many places where you can throw in a line with the kids off the pier in the morning, enjoy a relaxing day at the beach, then hit the local esplanade for a five-star dinner at night. We’ve got all your Queensland holiday planning sorted in this issue, highlighting the state’s many unique Indigenous experiences, the best beach shacks and locals’ guides on where to eat, drink and play. And if you’re one of those people who are looking to switch off the mobile phone and disconnect on your next holiday, be sure to turn to page 8 for a few of our suggestions on where to go for a digital detox. Happy reading! Tom Walley, Executive general manager

Travel ideas

Managing director Jeff Trounce / General manager Clare Brundle / Publisher Alison Crocker / Managing editor Tatyana Leonov / Sub-editor Sarah Friggieri / Art director Dan Morley / Senior designer Hayley Clark / Printer Offset Alpine

Adventures and activities abound – there’s family fun for bubs, teens and in-betweens.

58 After dark

Some of the best moments happen come nightfall.

in t he middl e

62 City scoop

Looking for the best spots to eat, drink and play? We’ve got the local lowdown from our in-the-know experts.

best of 12 The Queensland

We reveal Queensland’s top 13 experiences – prepare to be amazed!

22 Food safari

Take your tastebuds on a tour they won’t forget.

64 Travel planner The go-to guide combining the best events in the best destinations.

68 The challenge

Get to know the wildlife above and below the ground.

Whether you’re seeking a luxury, budget, oneweek or two-week stay, the Flight Centre experts have your trip covered.

with 32 Walking the spirits

72 Travel clinic


Natural encounters

Learn everything there is to know about Queensland’s Indigenous people.


Sea life’s beauty

Travel ideas magazine has been produced by Hardie Grant Media for Flight Centre. Editor-in-chief Brian Crisp Tourism content editor Ashton Rigg

The experts at Flight Centre answer your questions about holidaying in Queensland.

at t he b ac k

Whether you’re after total seclusion or buzzing visitor hotspots, we know a state that offers it all.

This special Queensland issue of Travel ideas is also available online. Download the Travel ideas app from the App Store or Google Play today.

The team

f eat ur es

52 Holiday hijinks

your 74 Choose holiday

Don’t overthink it – this quiz knows it all and will help send you on your way.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information in this magazine, no responsibility can be accepted by the publisher for errors or omissions, and in particular no responsibility can be accepted for the quality of goods and services, including prices quoted or errors. All material is copyright. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part, either electronically or conventionally, without the written permission from the publisher and Flight Centre is strictly prohibited.

Travel ideas




Fast facts


Culture club


Best beach

Road trip


Foodie heaven



e x p lo re a l l t h at q u e e n s l a n d h as t o o f f e r by f l i ck i n g t o t h e s e h i gh l i gh t s i n t h e m aga z i n e .

34 46


The 131-year-old Birdsville Hotel sits on the edge of the Simpson Desert.

he action See all t ind the from beh one of wheel of boys! d these ba


Cave dweller

Capricorn Caves, home to fossils, ferns and bats, date back 390 million years.


If you think you know what to expect when it comes to dining in Queensland, think again.



A place in the sun


The Captain Cook Highway between Cairns and Port Douglas has stunning views of land and sea.

An iconic brew



Natural encounters

The 2300kmlong Great Barrier Reef is home to six of the world’s seven sea turtle species.

Home to the Boyne Tannum HookUp, the best family fishing competition. Bands, bars and up-late dining – Brisbane’s nightlife scene is pumping.


Fishing corner


Australia Zoo


4WD adventure

In a 4WD is the only way to experience Fraser, the world’s largest sand island.




Wine time

72 58 18


Southern Queensland Country’s Granite Belt has an elevated position ideal for growing grapes.


Surf sensation

Groms, pros and L-plate surfers all converge on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast in search of the perfect wave.

The number of CBD beaches in Australia (Streets Beach at Brisbane’s South Bank Parklands).


The percentage of Moreton Island that is national park and can only be traversed by 4WD.



The year Captain James Cook disembarked at Town of 1770.




Queensland is one of only two states in Oz where you can actually cuddle a koala.


The number of years Australia’s Indigenous people – the oldest living culture in the world – date back to.

The height, in metres, of Australia’s longest singledrop waterfall, which can be found at Wallaman Falls inside the World Heritagelisted Wet Tropics near Ingham.

Illustration: Julia Murray. Photos © iStock, Tourism and Events Queensland

Roy Gibson is a Kuku Yalanji elder with many a story to share of his Indigenous heritage.

Only accessible by boat or seaplane, this haven features 7km of powdery sand.

It is almost impossible to pick a favourite part about Queensland due to [its] magnificent diversity.”


Travel ideas


travel desk NEWS & EVENTS

Brisbane locals Jake and Elle are still wowing diners with their marvellous food creations.

The Whitsunday Islands look just as incredible from above as they do on the land itself.


t he l at e st, the hottest and t he n ewest fr om austra lia’s su nsh in e state

Record breakers

What a view!

In July 2013, the Queensland Music Festival was given the Guinness World Record title of ‘largest orchestra’, when 7224 musicians played a medley of ‘Waltzing Matilda’, ‘Ode to Joy’ and ‘We Will Rock You’.

With more than 50 rides and attractions (including Tower of Terror II, one of the tallest and fastest rides in the world), Dreamworld on the Gold Coast is Australia’s biggest theme park.


Keen hikers will enjoy the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk (best between March and October), a 54-kilometre trek that takes in mist-covered mountaintops as it coils through the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest. Ngaro Sea Trail in the Whitsundays (best between May and November) is the waterview trek to do. Feel the sea breeze blow through your hair as you meander open forests and ascend rugged peaks from Whitsunday Island to South Molle and Hook Islands. If you fancy yourself a pro, why not commit to the 90-kilometre Fraser Island Great Walk from Dilli Village to Happy Valley? It’s great any time of the year! On the way you’ll be able to enjoy views of the towering rainforests, crystal-clear water and coloured sands of the world’s largest sand island. Or try the 30-kilometre Whitsunday Great Walk (best between April and September), taking you through Conway National Park. The route is full of cliff edges and steep elevations but offers magnificent views of the Whitsunday Islands.



The Eagle Street pathway connects to the newly rebuilt Riverwalk, so cyclists can see the River City from the saddle.

Spanning a whopping 184,000 hectares, the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. 3 METRES


In the neighbourhood

If there’s one thing Aussies do well, it’s dusting themselves off and pushing through a crisis together. In September last year, Brisbane’s New Farm Riverwalk was officially reopened after a section of it was washed away in the devastating 2011 floods. With the city skyline as its backdrop, the 900-metre walkway is split into designated sections for cyclists and pedestrians – giving all users their own space.

The Texas Longhorn with the world’s longest horns (measuring almost three metres tip to tip) can be found at Leahton Park, a cattle property just outside Charters Towers, where you can go on a wagon ride for the chance to meet JR, the recordholding steer.

Travel ideas

Queensland is home to the largest living crocodile in captivity. With a home inside Marineland Melanesia on Green Island, salty Cassius is 5.48 metres long and weighs in at more than a tonne!

Watch out! 5.48 METRES

Queensland has so much to offer. We have been lucky enough to sail the Whitsundays, holiday on Hamilton and Daydream Islands, sunbake on Whitehaven Beach, host the Australian-Italian Festival at Ingham, plus take a road trip from Brisbane to Rockhampton! The best part in general would have to be the coastline and beaches. There’s nothing more spectacular than lying in the sun, or dining at a seaside restaurant and indulging in amazing seafood that was caught only a few kilometres away from the shore. We can’t get enough of food – it’s in our blood. Our family comes from generations of farming. From bananas to pineapples and cane, Queensland has an abundance of tropical produce that goes perfectly with our weather and laid-back way of life. The Gold Coast now has some competition when it comes to nightlife – Ocean Street in Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast has really taken off! There are so many restaurants, all funky and affordable, not to mention the bars and bar food on offer. When it comes to relaxing, there’s no better place than the Sunshine Coast.

Words: Sarah Friggieri. Photos © Alamy, Channel Seven, iStock, Tourism and Events Queensland

since winning the silver medal on my kitchen rules in 2013, these fun-loving siblings have converted a six-metre shipping container into an italianstyle café at brisbane’s eat street markets

Just over two square metres in size, Oasis Roadhouse at Lynd Junction, south west of Cairns, is Queensland’s smallest pub. The smiles and welcomes are huge, though, and the roadhouse’s famous Oasis Burger is big enough to satisfy any roadtripper’s appetite.


Take a hike


travel desk

Digital detox

Cocktails on the rooftop? Yes please!

looking to unwind and disconnect from the world for a while? a relaxing retreat is just what you need! LOW



Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, Tallebudgera Valley

Eden Health Retreat, Currumbin Valley

Lady Musgrave Island

One of the most talked about retreats, multi-award winning Gwinganna in the Gold Coast Hinterland aims to soothe your soul and inspire you to live a healthier life. Wellness packages range from two to seven days and focus on organic living, spa, movement and relaxation in a low-tech environment with refreshing mountain air.

When you’re ready to throw your computer against the wall and flush your mobile down the toilet, it’s time to book a date with Eden, where there’s no alcohol, coffee or smoking, nor laptops, phones or radios. Apart from the guest computer and payphones, you’ll be truly disconnected from the world – and it’ll be so worth it!

To completely cut yourself off, camp on the sands of Lady Musgrave Island, a tiny coral cay located on the Great Barrier Reef, almost 100 kilometres north east of Bundaberg. There’s no electricity, only composting toilets, an emergency radio, fuel storage and a compressor bunker. Just make sure you pack your snorkelling gear, tent, food, water and a torch.

Got a thirst for thrill?

Scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef – it’s a nobrainer when in Queensland! If diving isn’t your thing, go for a snorkel. The Great Barrier Reef is home to an array of impressive sea life, so get in the water and gawk away.

Up for a dip?

Fill your lungs with fresh mountain air at Gwinganna.

Fishing corner Family day out

Fifteen minutes from Mackay’s city centre, Shoal Point Beach at Shoal Point is one of the best family friendly fishing spots. There are barbecues on site and the water remains fairly shallow – ideal for apprentice anglers.


Bonanza at Boyne

Considered Australia’s best family fishing competition, the Boyne Tannum HookUp at Bray Park on Boyne Island offers cooking demonstrations, rides, food and entertainment for the whole clan – oh, and a few fun battles too. Proving its popularity, the event will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in June 2015.

Island getaway

Fraser and Moreton Islands have unspoilt beaches that extend for kilometres and are only accessible via 4WD, meaning the ultimate islandgetaway fishing experience. The white-sand backdrop ain’t a bad view at all.

Cruise the Sunshine Coast on a HarleyDavidson with Freedom Wheels and be the coolest kid on the block.

STAY Words: Sarah Friggieri. Photos © Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, iStock, Jason Loucas Photography, One&Only Hayman Island, Tourism and Events Queensland

The buzz term among hoteliers right now is ‘infinity pool’ – and guests can’t wait to dip their feet in. So it’s no surprise that you can find four of the best in Queensland’s Whitsundays. Hamilton Island’s qualia has not one but two infinity pools you can sip cocktails by. Then there’s the beautiful infinity pool at the adults-only Beach Club Hamilton Island (visitors will love its spectacular beachfront location). Meanwhile, further north, private island resort One&Only Hayman Island offers superb views of the Coral Sea from its fabulous infinity pool. What are you waiting for?

Shacking up

Let’s face it: Queensland is known for its beach vibe. And since visitors and locals alike spend endless hours on the sand and in the ocean, it would be remiss of us to skip past the best beach shacks the Sunshine State has to offer…

01. Eliza Fraser Lodge, Fraser Island

Juxtaposing this contemporary two-storey eco lodge against the rugged landscape of Orchid Beach brings the best of both worlds. Features include four bedrooms, an open fire pit, barbecue and bar. All freshly prepared meals, nature-based experiences and daily housekeeping are included.

02. Beach House Noosa, Sunshine Beach (pictured)

Complete with designer furnishings and Asian antiques, this house sits right across the road from the beach, providing the ideal opportunity to wake up to the sun rising over the ocean. Laze on the lounges by the saltwater pool or head to Noosa National Park, just a short stroll away.

03. Town of 1770 Beach Shacks, Town of 1770

Settled by Captain James Cook in 1770, the aptly named town has warm weather year-round and an amazing atmosphere. Four self-contained bungalows – Treehouse, Sunset, Light House and Escape – offer views of the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

Travel ideas

Skydive. It’s a high in a completely legal sense. Skydive Australia offers three Queensland dives – at Brisbane, Mission Beach and Cairns – to give you the ultimate views of Queensland from above.


travel desk

My Queensland

When asked about her favourite holiday destination, Miranda said: “I love qualia resort, Hamilton Island.”

queensland stuns any way you look – and these celebs know it. here’s why they love the sunshine state…

From desert country to the Daintree, what I love about Queensland is its spectacular beauty.”


Queensland offers so much, from its stunning beaches and long, beautiful coastlines to lush rainforests and dusty country towns. The weather is perfect and the people are friendly. I especially love the food – Queensland is fast becoming the go-to destination for food and wine lovers, and it’s easy to see why, what with the freshest seafood, macadamia nuts and exotic fruits that you can only find in Tropical North Queensland, along with traditional bush tucker and Indigenous fare. I love being able to take the barge over to Stradbroke, Fraser or Moreton Islands. I love our nightlife but I also love that we are a little sleepy sometimes. Queensland has its own style.”

It is almost impossible to pick a favourite part about Queensland, due to the magnificent diversity my home state delivers. It is the only place on the planet where you can find breathtaking flora and fauna, magnificent beaches, the Great Barrier Reef, tropical rainforests, incredible surf, the Outback and complex river systems. Combine what nature offers with the friendly open‑hearted nature of the people, laid-back lifestyle and beautiful cities and Queensland truly has it all.”



I love Queensland’s diverse wildlife and wilderness areas. From Cape York to the Simpson Desert, I feel so blessed to have travelled it all. And living at Australia Zoo means I can share our amazing wildlife with all the guests who come to cuddle a koala, feed an echidna or watch our world-famous crocodile show!” TERRI IRWIN, AUSTRALIA ZOO


Compiled by Sarah Friggieri. Photos © courtesy of celebrities, Instagram, Lovegreen Photography


Eric let the incredible view of the Whitsundays do the talking for him: “It’s nice here,” he Instagrammed. ERIC STONESTREET, ACTOR

Travel ideas



At the northern end of Whitehaven Beach is Hill Inlet, where the tide shifts the sand and water to create a beautiful fusion of colours.


Sunset sailing

Navigate your way around some of the most beautiful islands in the world Bring your own boat, rent one or step aboard a chartered yacht and sail the 74 islands of the Whitsundays, ensuring you drop anchor at the dazzling Whitehaven Beach, known worldwide for its powder-white sand. Keen beginner yachties can also take part in a learn-to-sail course taught by a number of professional sailing operators.

t hirteen p o T




Photo © Imagebrief/Lisa Michele Burns



Moreton Bay Sailors love the protected waters of Moreton Bay, off Brisbane, where places like the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron offer novices the opportunity to jump aboard a boat and join a crew for WAGS (Wednesday Afternoon Go Sailing). South Stradbroke Island Tipplers Passage has been on the tip of the Gold Coast sailing set’s tongue forever. There are various cruises and charters that take guests to this spot, which is host to a café and camping site. Travel ideas


T op t hi r teen




04 03 02


Captivating culture


Brisbane welcomes international performers, such as the theatrical La Soirée troupe, with open arms.


03 Photos © Lauren Bath, Tourism and Events Queensland



Floating fauna

Mix with mega marine life Swim alongside gigantic manta rays, turtles and dugongs that inhabit these crystal-clear waters. Both Heron Island (89km offshore from Gladstone) and Lady Elliot Island (the southernmost tip of the Great Barrier Reef) are protected green zones with more than 1200 species of marine life, where you can snorkel directly from the shore. UNDERWATER ENTHUSIASTS SHOULD

Discover Brisbane’s beating heart The perfect way to measure the pulse of a destination is through its culture, and a stroll through the South Bank precinct reveals an array of colour. It is entirely possible in one day to watch a performance, admire Australian art, investigate your family history, marvel at dinosaurs, dine at award-winning restaurants and shop ’til you drop. Start at the Queensland Museum before winding your way towards the Queensland Art Gallery, which flows on to the State Library of Queensland and the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA). For a grand finale, end the evening with a show at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.

Embracing the Indigenous heritage of Tropical North Queensland Just north of Cairns, discover the Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Park, which tells the tale of the local Tjapukai people through music, dance, food, face-painting, didgeridoo playing and boomerang throwing. Founded more than 25 years ago, Tjapukai holds the record for Australia’s longest-running stage show. Learning about Queensland’s Outback legends The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre in legendary Longreach in Central West Queensland provides an informative and entertaining snapshot of remote life in Outback Queensland. Think horses, cowboys, rodeos and whip cracking.


Meeting the marine life of the Great Barrier Reef A Maori wrasse named Wally is just one of the friendly creatures divers and snorkellers will encounter at the Reefworld pontoon on the outer Great Barrier Reef in the Whitsundays. Situated 75 kilometres from land, Reefsleep at Reefworld is a remote accommodation, where visitors can sleep under the stars on the Great Barrier Reef. Swimming with the sharks and whales on the Sunshine Coast Underwater World Sea Life aquarium at Mooloolaba offers visitors the chance to swim with sharks, while Sunreef’s whale-swimming experience allows guests the opportunity to share the water with humpbacks.

The Great Barrier Reef is home to 134 species of sharks and rays.


Explorer adorers

Savour the shifting sands of Fraser Island There’s only one way to experience Fraser – the world’s largest sand island – and that’s via 4WD. Take your own vehicle or join a Beauty Spots Tour through Kingfisher Bay Resort. Incorporating all the island’s highlights, from the Maheno shipwreck to 75 Mile Beach, it will take you through ancient rainforest and around inland lakes and freshwater creeks. Take your togs for some unforgettable swimming memories. FURTHER SATISFY YOUR SPIRIT BY…

Camping on Moreton Island Queensland’s Moreton Island boasts a variety of campsites, including the Wrecks campground, Ben-Ewa and Comboyuro Point on the western beach with its calm waters, Blue Lagoon on the eastern surfside, and North Point at the northern tip. Island highlights such as The Champagne Pools and Cape Moreton Lighthouse are only accessible via 4WD. Digging for dinosaurs in the Outback What started as a chance discovery on an Outback farmer’s property has been transformed into The Australian Age of Dinosaurs. Head to Winton – the home of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ – and dig for ancient dinosaur bones that date back millions of years.

Some parts of the Sunshine State are only accessible by 4WD.

Travel ideas


T op t hi r teen Sunset at Snapper Rocks brings a sense of calm to Coolangatta surfers.






Go troppo

Revel in the rainforest The world’s oldest rainforest, the Daintree, has clocked up a world first with its Human Hamster Wheel. This gigantic people-powered wheel is used to turn the cables that transport visitors to the treetop canopies, over which they can glide on a Jungle Surfing safari. There are also hiking trails to traverse, kayaking adventures to be had, stunning self-drive routes to cruise, and exceptional vistas any way you look.



The Bunya Mountains Follow in the footsteps of South East Queensland’s Indigenous people, who gathered for centuries in the Bunya Mountains to celebrate the bunya nut harvest. This picturesque area features tracts of rainforest and plenty of bushwalks. The Gold Coast Hinterland Trek inland from the Gold Coast beaches to the cool Hinterland, with its picturesque walking tracks, national parks, wildlife and refreshing waterfalls. The quaint mountain villages and boutique wineries will invite you into what feels like a whole new relaxing world.

Can you believe the Birdsville Hotel has been around since 1884?



Quintessential Queensland

Create your own Outback life It doesn’t get much more remote than the Birdsville Hotel, and arriving here is half the fun. Your flight will land just footsteps away from this iconic hotel, which comes alive every September with its annual horse race. There are few places on this planet where a cold beer on a hot day tastes better. HISTORY LOVERS WILL ALSO ENJOY…

Going on a pub crawl of Brisbane’s hotels Check out Toowong’s Regatta Hotel, where two female university students chained themselves to the public bar in the 1960s to protest against women being banned from the main bar, in a move that eventually changed drinking legislation. Heading to the heart of Dad and Dave country Rudd’s Pub, south of Toowoomba, is where novelist Steele Rudd penned the popular Australian Dad and Dave stories. While you’re there, dine on Mabel’s rump (steak, that is). Surf through the jungle with ease in the Daintree Rainforest.


So swell

Learn to surf Hang ten at some of the most spectacular beaches on the planet. The protected coves of Noosa provide beautiful breaks and surf schools for novice board riders. Meanwhile, the award-winning beachside restaurants offer prime position for those who like to fill their time dining and daydreaming.


The history of surfing The Gold Coast isn’t just home to some great waves ideal for the Quiksilver Pro and Roxy Pro tournaments – you’ll also find surfing museum Surf World Gold Coast at Currumbin. Scratching beneath the surface Adventurers who prefer to go beyond the surface of the sea will adore Cairns and Port Douglas in Tropical North Queensland, home to world-class learn-to-dive courses and sites.

Photos © Corbis, courtesy Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours, Imagebrief/Karl Lundholm



Travel ideas


T op t hi r teen





Grape expectations

Follow Queensland’s food and wine trail Due to its elevated position, the Granite Belt combines much sought-after granite terroir, a cool climate and high altitude – the ideal conditions in which to grow grapes – to create national and international award-winning wines. In recent years, long-standing winemakers have moved away from producing some of the traditional varietals and instead are embracing the vintages modelled after Italian and Spanish wines, as they are more ideal for Queensland’s temperate climate.

08 10


What a scream!

Experience Australia’s theme park capital Visit the Gold Coast’s ‘big five’ (theme parks, that is). There’s one for every day of the working week, so strap yourself in for Sea World, Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast, Dreamworld and WhiteWater World. For a taste of the Outback without leaving the Gold Coast, head to the Australian Outback Spectacular.


South Burnett, where it’s not just nuts Famous for its Kingaroy peanuts, the South Burnett region has unveiled a sophisticated food and wine trail that runs from Nanango at the southern end to Moffatdale further north. While you’re in the mood for food, be sure to check out Taste South Burnett, the region’s one-stop shop for gourmet goodies such as wine and cheese. Tropical North Queensland, for the ultimate bush-tucker experience Join the close-knit Walker family on a Bama Way Aboriginal journey at Cooya Beach, north of Cairns, where, among other experiences, you will learn how to catch your own mud crab in the mangroves before cooking it for dinner.

At Golden Grove Estate, Ballandean, you may be lucky enough to meet a roo!


Why choose just one of the ‘big five’ theme parks when they’re all so close together?



Island life

Photos © Tourism and Events Queensland

Uncover Magnetic Island’s magic Magnetic Island (or Maggie to the locals), just off the coast of Townsville, has a personality all of its own. Join a sailing tour or take the ferry, and when you arrive, hire a Mini Moke, Harley-Davidson or bicycle to traverse the idyllic island. Pretty beaches, water sports, golf and picnics are all part of the picture here.



Pack your khakis and head to Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast Crikey! There are scores of amazing animals at Australia Zoo, but the most popular by far are the crocodiles, like Agro and Cookie, who are named after their distinct personalities. Soar through the Qantas story in Outback Queensland The Qantas Founders Museum at Longreach is a theme park for aviation buffs. It’s here that you’ll be able to walk on the wings of a decommissioned 747.

The word on the street is it’s loads of fun getting around Magnetic Island in a Mini Moke.


Wander the Whitsundays Best known for its sailing, there are also plenty of national parks and listed walks throughout the Whitsundays, as well as golf carts, which make travelling across some of the bigger islands, such as Hamilton, so much more fun. Explore Orpheus Island About 80 kilometres north of Townsville, the secluded Orpheus Island offers accommodation for just 28 guests in a heavenly hideaway. Just 11 kilometres long and one kilometre wide, this island paradise will keep nature lovers entertained for days – most of it is declared as national park. Travel ideas


T op t hi r teen


Aren’t these baby turtles just the cutest?





Nurture nature



Cathedral Cave, part of the Capricorn Caves near Rockhampton, is a popular spot for weddings.

Cavernous cravings

Mind the gap in Capricorn Explore the cool Capricorn Caves, north of Rockhampton and home to fossils, ferns and bats. These above-ground caverns, which are set in a limestone ridge, date back 390 million years. Adventure enthusiasts can squeeze through the 30-centimetre hole known as Fat Man’s Misery or attempt the Commando Crawl.




A unique peek

Meet animals aplenty Spot the shy platypus in its natural habitat in Eungella National Park, home to lush rainforest and a host of wonderful wildlife. Stay at the rustic Broken River Mountain Resort to partake in night-time wildlife spotting. The beach at Cape Hillsborough, 20 minutes north of Mackay, is the best place to witness wild wallabies. ANIMAL ADMIRERS WILL


Basking in the glow of the Gold Coast Away from the sparkle of the glitter strip, naturalists can journey to Tamborine Mountain and the world-renowned Glow Worm Caves, of which there are two: one to educate guests on these glittery critters, and the other in which to view them.


Visiting Undara In the heart of Gulf Savannah country, the Undara Lava Tubes are the path of a former volcano. There are a variety of Undara Experience tours, and cool accommodation options in the area include renovated train carriages.

Cuddling a koala at Brisbane’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary Wildlife enthusiasts are sorted here! There are more than 130 koalas at Australia’s oldest koala sanctuary, as well as a platypus named Barak. Feeding the rainbow lorikeets on the Gold Coast A highlight of a visit to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is feeding the colourful lorikeets that often perch themselves on people’s arms and heads.


Photos © Gary Bell/Ocean Wide Images, Imagebrief/Nick Rains, Lauren Bath


Rainbow lorikeets can live up to 20 years in the wild.

Meet the turtles at Mon Repos Home to the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland, Mon Repos Regional Park springs to life between November and March. Here, the giant sea turtles return each year to lay their eggs, and about eight weeks later the hatchlings make the tentative trek towards the ocean. A night-time ranger-guided experience is possible through a Connect With Nature – Turtle Encounters tour on this beautiful beach, 15 minutes from the centre of Bundaberg. Feeding the wild dolphins of Moreton Island The Tangalooma Jetty, a 75-minute boat ride from Brisbane, is where up to 10 wild bottlenose dolphins visit each night for a magical hand-feeding experience. It’s here that you’ll get to meet the descendants of Beauty, the original dolphin who started visiting the area in the 1980s. Witnessing whales off the Fraser Coast Visit Australia’s premier spot to watch the humpback whales make their annual migration (from mid-July to early November) from the cold waters of Antarctica to the warm waters of Hervey Bay, in which they stay and play.

Getting there

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice and the latest Queensland deals. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.

Travel ideas









Queensland on a plate


In the Sunshine State, you’ll get to taste some of the freshest ingredients in the world. Queensland prides itself on its seafood offerings. Visit Brisbane’s Eat Street Markets on Fridays and Saturdays from 4pm to 10pm. Dishes at Indulge are created using freshly harvested local ingredients. A divine melt-inyour-mouth Nu Nu creation. Brisbane’s Jellyfish restaurant has riverfront views. Hanging planters emphasise the freshness of Nu Nu in Palm Cove. The Fish House is an award-winning establishment – and for good reason.



service, all bundled with exceptional local and regional flavours. The warm, welcoming weather, blue skies and relaxed living that is the Queensland lifestyle is echoed by its dining scene. Here’s where you should go for the best grub…

Photos © Ben Keating/Sass Studios, iStock

If you think you know what to expect when it comes to eating out in Queensland, think again. You’ll find casual dining and seriously edgy bistros and cafés as well as sophisticated food choices and friendly wait staff providing efficient

Travel ideas



Try a Queensland icon

Generations of Queenslanders can’t be wrong, and when a dish has stood the test of time on a restaurant menu, it’s for good reason. W H E R E TO G E T T H E B E S T

Eat local

A good chef will tell you that it’s the quality of the produce, as much as their excellent and innovative cooking techniques, that makes a dish shine. With easy access to much of Australia’s best, many Queensland chefs let their ingredients do the talking. “Local produce is central to everything we do,” says Nick Holloway, chef and owner of Nu Nu Restaurant, Palm Cove. “Not only does it mean our food is fresher and in season, but we benefit by building close relationships with our suppliers. Using local produce gives our cuisine a time and a place geographically.”


Drawing from Bundaberg’s glorious food bowl, Indulge chef and owner Amanda Hinds packs powerful flavours onto the plate from the daily harvest that appears at her back door. Taking ‘growing your own’ one step further, The Waterline Restaurant at Keppel Bay Marina farms its own Banana Station cattle. Chef Cameron Matthews creates culinary masterpieces with produce grown in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and on site at The Long Apron in scenic Montville. Fresh and local is the focus on the sharing menu at Coast, Hervey Bay.

Breakfast – you beauty!

Gather with friends or family around large or small tables and enjoy sensational sausages at 2013 My Kitchen Rules winners’ EAT at Dan & Steph’s in Hervey Bay. Or opt for an Asian chicken omelette at Australia’s ‘best breakfast restaurant’ (a title awarded in 2014 at the Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering awards), South Townsville’s Jam Corner. In Brisbane, try The Gunshop Cafe, Shouk Cafe, Comfort At My Table, Anouk or Pearl Cafe. W H E R E TO G E T T H E B E S T

If a Nutella or salted caramel and pretzel cookie donut doesn’t do it for you, maybe the dippy eggs at The Paddock Bakery in Miami on the Gold Coast will. Part café, part retro museum, The Velo Project at Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast offers organic ham and eggs and loads of local produce to purchase.


Bev Ruskey’s beef and shiraz pie at Spring Creek Mountain Cafe, Killarney, has been on the menu for 11 years, and her guests continue to say it’s the best pie they have ever eaten. Old-fashioned sticky date pudding has kept customers coming back for more for 17 years at Freestyle Cafe and Dessert Bar, Fortitude Valley, says owner Kellie-Ann Ashton. Philip Johnson’s simple mushrooms on toast have spent 20 years on the menu at e’cco bistro in Brisbane’s CBD. After all, who could resist thick olive toast with plump field mushrooms, rocket, parmesan, truffle oil and lemon? Salt and native pepper leaf prawn and crocodile has been packing a flavour punch at Craig Squire’s Ochre Restaurant in Cairns for 20 years. The grandaddy of them all is Il Centro’s sand crab lasagne, a rich dish that’s given an even bigger flavour boost thanks to the sea urchin roe in the creamy sauce. It’s been on the menu of this Brisbane CBD restaurant for 23 years.

Straight from the sea


The Fish House restauranteur Simon Gloftis; Fat Frog Beach Cafe at Airlie Beach is dog-friendly; Freestyle Trout’s sticky date pudding, adorned by Fortitude Valley locals and visitors for 17 years; plates from the sharing menu at Coast, Hervey Bay.

Blessed with an expansive coastline dotted with local fisheries and a strong fishing fleet, Queensland has plenty of local flavours to tempt seafood lovers. Try Mooloolaba king prawns or sweet Hervey Bay scallops by the bucket, taste the clean ocean water in Stradbroke Island oysters or indulge in mud, sand or spanner crabs. Rebecca Clark of Fish D’vine in Airlie Beach says her restaurant buys what is required each day directly from local registered fishermen. W H E R E TO G E T T H E B E S T

For arguably the best dining view in Noosa, grab a coffee and muffin from the cart outside Sails Restaurant every morning and enjoy a brekkie on the beach. Try a sunflower rye bagel or a salted caramel donut with an artisan coffee at Ground Up Espresso Bar, Toowoomba. A favourite with locals, relaxed Fat Frog Beach Cafe at Airlie Beach features a water outlook, quirky tea cosies and food you’ll remember for all the right reasons. Discover an unusual coffee sensation, Kopi Luwak (cat poo coffee), at Herveys Range Heritage Tea Rooms near Townsville. Made from beans passed through the digestive system of the Asian palm civet, it retails for $50 a cup. The Chocolate Cottage and Cafe in Highfields, about 15 minutes north of Toowoomba, sells blueberry banoffee pancakes with butterscotch sauce and ice-cream, topped with toasted coconut.

You can still taste the ocean in the seafood served at The Fish House, Burleigh Heads, which made Gourmet Traveller’s 2014 ‘top 100 restaurants’ list. At Grunske’s by the River, Bundaberg, watch the boats

unload their catch while dining on freshly cooked fish and chips. Next door is one of the state’s largest retail seafood outlets. The Spit at Mooloolaba is where the trawlers come in and the fish and chips go out. Dine at the Mooloolaba Fish Market or take your dinner to the beach for a total seaside experience. Up to 14 species of fish feature on the menu at Brisbane’s Jellyfish Restaurant. Look for the freshly shucked oysters and crisp, tender salt and pepper calamari stands at Brisbane’s Eat Street Markets. When only sustainable will do, Swampdog Fish and Chips in South Brisbane has your needs covered. Head to On the Inlet in Port Douglas to feast on beerbattered, line-caught Spanish mackerel, served with a delightful caper mayonnaise.

Getting there

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice on the best foodie finds in Queensland and the latest Queensland deals. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.

Travel ideas



Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most impressive and diverse underwater expanses in the world – so it’s a no-brainer to snorkel and scuba dive the reef when in Queensland. With more than 1800 species of fish (including the clownfish, better known as Disney’s Nemo) and 350 types of coral, you could spend weeks, months or even years underwater and not see it all. Day trips from one of Queensland’s many coastal centres, including Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville, Airlie Beach and Bundaberg, are a popular option. There are also longer live-aboard dive trips available for underwater enthusiasts. Or head out on a glass-bottom boat to view the depths from above.

Photo portfolio


Photo © Tourism and Events Queensland

Words: Tatyana Leonov

Travel ideas




Queensland is one of only two states in Australia where visitors can cuddle a koala, and there are plenty of locations to snag a snuggle (turn to page 72 to find out where). The word ‘koala’ is derived from an ancient Aboriginal word meaning ‘no drink’ – because koalas seldom drink (usually only during droughts or when sick) and receive most of their hydration when consuming gum leaves. Native to Australia and famed across the globe, these marsupials are found in various habitats, including the bush and coastal islands.



Australia’s heaviest flightless birds (cassowaries can grow to the same height as humans), distinguished by their coarse feathers and vivid blue necks, are often spotted in the luscious rainforests of North Queensland. If you don’t see one in the wild, there are plenty of places in Queensland where you can see one, including at Daintree Wild Zoo and Birdworld Kuranda. The cassowary is responsible for seed scattering and germination of more than 70 plant species. If it became extinct, rainforest ecology would be severely damaged.

Photos © Imagebrief/Peter Casamento, Imagebrief/Shannon Benson, Lovegreen Photography,

Humpback whales

There’s something magnificent about witnessing a majestic humpback whale breach the water and slap its unusually long fins – and in Hervey Bay on the Fraser Coast (one of the only places in the world where whales go to rest and play), sightings are surefire from July to November. There are a number of whale-watching tours available. Trips usually include expert commentary as well as specially designated sighting areas, spacious viewing decks and underwater viewing rooms offering the ultimate intimate and unforgettable encounter with these beauties.

Boyd’s forest dragons

With jagged scales behind their head, the distinctive Boyd’s forest dragon can only be spotted in the rainforests of North Eastern Queensland, predominantly around Lake Eacham, Lake Barrine, Mossman Gorge and Malanda Falls Environmental Park. Sightings are special because the lizards spend most of their time perched in trees, rarely moving. Because they are of a similar colouring to tree bark, they easily blend into the natural surrounds and are tricky to spot. The best way to sight this rare creature is to walk slowly and scan tree trunks at about head height or lower, or by guided tour such as those led by a Mossman Gorge Indigenous guide. Travel ideas




This cute, hoppy Australian marsupial is legendary across the world, but the best area to spot these unique creatures is at Cape Hillsborough National Park, located about 20 kilometres north of Mackay. Wake up before sunrise and plant yourself on the beach next to the Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park to witness playful wallabies feed on the seedpods that have washed up onto the beach overnight. The national park is also home to a colony of about 200 bats, providing an animal encounter for night owls.

Saltwater crocodiles

A full-grown saltwater crocodile is said to be the largest of all living reptiles, so it’s a fair assumption that most people prefer to meet these predators in captivity. In Queensland, there are many places to get up close and personal, minus the danger. Take a Daintree River Cruise or a Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures Cruise in Tropical North Queensland, learn about crocs at the late Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast or, if adventure is more your thing, zoom over the crocs by zipline at the Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome.


The Great Barrier Reef is home to six of the world’s seven sea turtle species, but it’s the southern end of the reef that’s a real hotspot for turtle sightings. Swim, snorkel and play with turtles on Lady Musgrave, Lady Elliot and Heron Islands (waterproof cameras are a must), or head to Bundaberg’s Mon Repos Conservation Park between November and March to witness loggerhead, green, leatherback and flatback turtles lay and hatch their eggs – a truly memorable experience.


Photos © Corbis, Lauren Bath, Luke Shadbolt


The platypus can be tricky to find. The shy critter is quiet and typically spotted during sunrise and sunset. Broken River in Eungella National Park (80 kilometres north west of Mackay) is recognised as one of the best regions to see the platypus (it’s currently undergoing a $600,000 Platypus Walk project, which will include new walkways and viewing areas). This crafty creature can also be found at Paluma Range National Park, located between Ingham and Townsville in Tropical North Queensland, and Carnarvon Gorge, west of Rockhampton.

Travel ideas


The Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival is the most significant traditional cultural event for the Cape York region.

Walking with spiritS WALK THIS WAY TO GET BACK IN TOUCH WITH NATURE AND HISTORY Words: Jennifer Pinkerton


Photos © Jennifer Pinkerton


Travel ideas



son is a Roy Giblegend local


through a fan of spiky fronds, the youngster was swiftly busted. “My grandmother said, ‘Come any closer and I’ll hit you with my stick!’ They had women’s business they had to do. There was a lot of privacy around that. Still is.” While our walk meanders past medicinal trees and sacred rocks, it becomes clear why Roy is considered a local legend. In 2013 he was named Cairns region Citizen of the Year, and in 2014 the now two-year-old Mossman Gorge Centre – an Indigenous ecotourism experience in the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park – won the Queensland Tourism Award for Indigenous Tourism (his proudest achievement yet). The centre now employs 77 Indigenous staff. Says Mossman Gorge Centre’s general manager Greg Erwin: “We find that people are touched by Roy’s vision. He’s

an inspiration to everyone who meets him. He is known as the peace-keeper and he works to bring out the best in his community. When visitors arrive, they are welcomed by the same people who have nurtured this land for thousands of years. Above all, the Gorge offers travellers a positive engagement experience with Indigenous Australia.” Statewide, the Gorge keeps good company. About 40 Indigenous travel operators spread their wings inside Queensland’s borders. From the Torres Strait to the Sunshine Coast, and even at inland regions such as Central Queensland’s Sandstone Belt, this scene is on the rise. Travellers, it seems, are keen to edge closer and absorb stories from Australia’s first peoples. And in conjunction, the desire to share culture and inherited wisdom runs both ways.

I’m letting the spirits know that I’m with strangers and I’m asking them to not let harm come to you.” Photos © Alamy, Jennifer Pinkerton, Mossman Gorge Centre

A singsong voice travels through a knot of strangler figs. The sound sweeps along the forest floor, rising to the canopy above. Uncle Roy is cupping his hands to his mouth and calling out Kuku Yalanji words to the lush scene before us. “I’m letting the spirits know that I’m with strangers,” he explains. “And I’m asking them to not let harm come to you.” Small in stature and sporting a crown of silver curls, Roy Gibson is a Kuku Yalanji elder, traditional owner and guide. Today he’s leading our group of six travellers on a 90-minute walk through his ancestral lands at Mossman Gorge, 80 kilometres north of Cairns in Tropical North Queensland. We pause at a cycad plant topped with bright-red fruit and Roy recounts a tale about once spying on his grandmother as she and her friends made dillybags at this very site. As he peered at the ladies


Elder Roy Gibson has many a story to share; women celebrate at the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival; traditional bush tucker; a young boy enjoying the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival.

Roy, for example, is rostered off on the day we see him, but he’s come to work anyway. “Tour guiding is the best thing in my life. Sharing culture with other communities is so important,” he says. An equally committed elder, Fred Conway, arrives at work some 1200 kilometres south west of Cairns at Carnarvon Gorge. This expanse of lofty sandstone cliffs and boulder-strewn creeks rests between the prettily named towns of Emerald and Roma. It’s a rich site for rock art. To discuss just that, Fred delivers ranger talks to park visitors. He brandishes

a broad-rimmed Akubra, white sideburns and a ponytail. “I am one of the custodian elders from the surrounding gorge. I’ve been coming and going here for the past 20-odd years,” he says. “I explain about the ancestral significant meaning on these walls and it makes me feel proud to be looking after our culture.” He gestures to the ochre-coloured art behind him before setting sail on his ritual raft of stories. Stories, too, are shared less formally via Queensland’s Indigenous festivals and fairs. Perhaps the two most prominent of these are the Laura Aboriginal Dance

Festival, held every two years in June, and the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, an art market merged with public talks, dance performances and activities that’s held annually in July. The former is an occasion for every Australiaphile’s bucket list. Held in bushland near the township of Laura, 305 kilometres north west of Cairns, the dance festival sees about 17 Indigenous groups perform 30-minute sets. It attracts more than 5000 visitors, half of whom are Indigenous. This yin-yang, black-white balance partly explains the Travel ideas


ou s Indigenrs and designels steal mode otlight the sp


More top Indigenous travel experiences in the Sunshine State Ingan, Tully Jirrbal Rainforest Aboriginal elder Dr Ernie Grant and his family run a five-hour Spirit of the Rainforest walk through the rainforest in the state’s north. Ingan’s Kayak tours explore the Cassowary Coast region. Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks, Mossman Gorge Beginning with a traditional smoking ceremony and ending with delicious damper and a cuppa, these walks journey along private tracks to culturally significant sites that line meandering rainforest streams. Gab Titui Cultural Centre, Thursday Island This centre is a treasure chest of modern Torres Strait artworks, as well as interesting titbits of cultural history. The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair features artwork – like this Conjure by Moon by Christian Thompson – as well as a fashion show (right).


anywhere else in Australia. One of the reasons for that is that it’s largely coastal, so there’s no shortage of food sources,” says Maryanne Jacques from Adventure North, which runs 4WD tours from Cairns and Port Douglas to Cooktown. “What’s special about the Indigenous travel offerings here is that each experience is completely different. Nothing is duplicated. So you spend time with traditional owners of a given country and they’re doing what they do every day. For instance, they’ll go out and hunt regardless of whether they have a tour group or not.” Maryanne makes special reference here to the Walker brothers from the Mossman area’s Cooya Beach. Like Roy, siblings Linc and Brandon spent many years fighting for the life they now lead. Along with other members of the Walker clan, they won a Native Title Act in 2007 to hunt seafood here. The pair has since started Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Spearfishing tours along the mudflats near their family home. They complete each session with a homemade meal prepared by their mum. On a late dry-season day, I follow Linc through a maze of angular tree roots.

We each carry a tall, thin spear, and as we travel we spot a cornucopia of aquatic creatures – some instantly recognisable, others less so. “Being inside the mangroves, you get to escape out of this world and delve inside another one,” says Linc. When you get in there, you’ve got to make your own track. You’ve gotta lift your legs up and adjust your eyes. You can’t connect to a place unless you’re interacting with it properly. Some things you can’t explain, like the feeling of mud between your toes where different things are living. “This place has fed our families since the beginning of time,” says Linc. Back beside a water stream in the shady Mossman Gorge, Roy reveals a similar philosophy towards the land, its offerings and opportunities. As we pause at the base of a giant paperbark tree, calm sets in. Like a white wave, the tranquility outside floods inwards. It happily invades our thoughts. “This land is a supermarket, a university, a pharmacy and a hardware store all in one,” whispers Roy. “We get out into the rainforest to feel alive again.” 

Lawn Hill Gorge, Boodjamulla National Park Known as Rainbow Serpent country, the gorge and its surrounding areas are home to the Waanyi people, thought to be the longest-residing occupants of a single part of Australia. Mungalla Aboriginal Tours, Ingham Set at an Aboriginal station in sugar cane terrain,

Mirrabooka, Brisbane Amid a bushy outcrop at Kangaroo Point, east of the Brisbane River – and only a cockatoo’s flight from the CBD – Nunukul Yuggera Aboriginal Dancers share stories, music, customs and didgeridoo performances. Musgrave Park Cultural Centre, Brisbane The hub for Brisbane’s Indigenous communities, Musgrave Park is a sacred meeting place. The centre boasts an exhibition and gallery space, performance areas, meeting spaces for men, women and children, plus a ‘yarning’ circle. Janbal Gallery, Mossman Local artist Binna runs art workshops and storytelling sessions. Visitors can opt to paint boomerangs, didgeridoos and canvas, and to hear tales about Binna’s mother and the Yiki people – traditional guardians of the night who often appear in Binna’s work. Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, Cairns The Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park holds a Guinness World Record for being Australia’s longest running stage show – it’s been in orbit for 25 years. Immersive performances centre on the rainforest people and include didgeridoo playing, boomerang throwing, dancing, storytelling and hunting demonstrations.

Say what? Queensland’s quirkiest place names often stem from local Indigenous dialects. Wrap your tongue around these… Goomeri The name of this town in the South Burnett region is allegedly derived from the Aboriginal word meaning ‘broken shield’. Toogoolawah Ancient Aborigines used the word ‘dhoo’ for tree and ‘goo/lawa’ to denote something crescentshaped. From these origins, Toogoolawah was born. Toowoomba Today, Queenslanders refer to Toowoomba as The Garden City, but the local Indigenous meaning is less flattering. The Aboriginal translation means ‘swamp’. Kaimkillenbun Kaimkillenbun is the longest single place name in Queensland. Though its meaning remains a mystery, locals dub it ‘The Bun’. Goondiwindi  Aborigines named Goondiwindi after the term for ‘resting place of the birds'.

Photos © Kerry Trapnell/Pip Miller PR

festival’s esteem. It has harmony to it, a mood of sharing, and that takes the event beyond the dance that’s performed and observed. At the most recent festival, I watch the Marrinyama troupe perform a series of traditional dances with crocodile, dingo and fish sequences, in which they wear emu, duck and turkey feathers. As the men walk off the stage and pose for photos, there’s a dancer who catches my eye. Lance Sullivan is from Cloncurry in north west Queensland. He explains that the dances teach the tribe how to be men, how to fish and hunt. “People think we’ve died off, but our lore is strong. We want to keep our culture. We come here to show the world that even though we’re fading, we’re still here. We’re alive.” As Lance talks openly, so many barriers fall. I begin to understand not only how enriching Aboriginal cultures are, but that they’re tough and sacred too. They vary with as much splendour as Queensland does – from the tropics all the way to the desert. “What’s unique about North Queensland in particular is that it has more Indigenous people per square kilometre than

Quinkan Reserves Ancient Rock Art, Laura Thought to be at least 27,000 years old, this sandstone rock-art site features a plethora of Aboriginal mythological beings.

these tours uncover the history of local Nywaigi people and showcase the birdlife and ecology of the station’s wetlands.

Getting there

Aboriginal-inspired art takes on a life of its own at the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

Travel ideas

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice and the latest Queensland deals. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.


Queensland’s often tranquil coastline will put anybody at ease.



Queensland owns beaches the way Mick Fanning owns surfing. With 84 patrolled swim spots, 25 surf schools, the tallest sand dune and largest sand island in the world, and Australia’s most popular beach, the Sunshine State is a bit of an overachiever. From dog-friendly and 4WD-able, to popular surfing spots and secluded islands, bays and beaches


accessible only by boat, whatever tickles your sandcastle, there’s a patch of sand to call your own. But when it comes to settling on the best beach to lay down your towel, the smorgasbord of choice can become overwhelming. Here are the best of the best to help you narrow down that list and start planning your next sandy escape.

Photo © Gold Coast Tourism

Words: Celeste Mitchell

The Gold Coast entices international surfing talent to its iconic beaches.


Fun for the whole family

The barrel of this wave offered a telescope to Surfers Paradise.

The 2.2-kilometre beachfront promenade that is The Strand in Townsville packs a whole lotta punch into a day at the beach, with public barbecues, picnic tables, stinger nets, a free waterpark, monthly night markets and the biennial outdoor sculpture exhibition, Strand Ephemera. Much further south, the quintessential beach holiday town of Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast hasn’t changed a whole lot since the 1950s, and that’s a very good thing. The calm waters of Bulcock Beach, Currimundi Lake and Golden Beach are perfect for the wave-phobic, while the fountains, playground and ocean pool at Kings Beach provide an interlude between stints in the surf. Suttons Beach in Redcliffe on Brisbane’s outskirts is one of those places the locals know and love, and once you arrive you wonder how on earth it managed to stay off your radar – especially since it’s only 40 minutes from Brisbane. Parking spots? Check. A fenced playground? Check. Patrolled beach and fish’n’chips? Sorted. Yes, it’s manmade, but Streets Beach at South Bank in Brisbane can claim the title of the only manmade beach in Australia, and has the advantage of a lifeguard on patrol, shady trees and picnic spots, cafés and market stalls on tap – and the performing arts and museum epicentre is just a few minutes walk away. So when the kids start resembling a pack of raisins, you can go straight from beach to theatre.

up, Surf'sdude! little

Looking for a free waterpark? Head to The Strand in Townsville.


Photos © Tourism and Events Queensland

Best surfing beaches

It’s no secret that the Gold Coast is a surfing mecca. From Duranbah Beach in the south to Main Beach in the north, groms, pros and L-plate surfers all converge on this stretch of coastline in search of the perfect wave. While debate rages over whether D-Bar sits in Queensland or New South Wales, all you need to know is that it consistently serves up throaty barrels and hairy rips, so you need to be on your A-game. The Superbank – a two-kilometre chain of breaks covering Snapper Rocks, Rainbow Bay, Greenmount, Coolangatta and Kirra – provides a conveyor belt of peeler after peeler. And even if you’re not a surfer, this is the best spot to get

your stalker on (pros Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson and Stephanie Gilmore are often spotted here) and check out the annual Quiksilver and Roxy Pro events. While Surfers Paradise might sound a little too literal to be true, this beach break is still a hot favourite, especially with surf schools. But head a little further north to Main Beach and you’ll score consistently fun waves with less people to compete with. Further north, Noosa surf is a tale of two mistresses. With small swells, the waves peel along the rocks so you can hang all 10 toes off the nose, but when the swell is overhead, protected bays on the Sunshine Coast deliver the goods.

A few beaches south, Coolum’s got plenty of consistent peaks to hone your skill. And further south again, Kings Beach is protected from northerly winds, making it a favourite in summer when the rest of the beaches are blown out. Brisbanites may not have any surf, but their closest wave playground of North Stradbroke Island more than compensates with the types of waves that attract pods of dolphins and turtles riding in on the EAC (East Australian Current, dude). Main Beach is the most consistent (its punchy beach breaks giving rise to Bede Durbidge’s career), and when cyclone swells come rollin’ in, Cylinder Beach is where you want to be.

Travel ideas



Best secluded beaches

A strip of sand separating two World Heritage-listed areas (Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef), Cape Tribulation is not only drop-dead gorgeous in a Castaway (minus the scruffy beard and home dental work) kind of way – it also keeps adventurers satiated with horseriding, kayaking, bushwalks and 4WD-ing through the rainforest. If you’re relying on two wheels (your legs), a 45-minute hike from Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay or Radical Bay will spit you out into a reality far more beautiful than The Beach. Leo DiCaprio who?


T O P L E F T Burleigh Heads is still a legendary surfing mecca; Cape Tribulation is full of all the adventure or relaxation you desire; foodies from all over the world flock to the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival; Denman Cellars Beer Cafe serves more than just craft beer.

You probably wouldn’t expect a small beach sitting between Cairns and Port Douglas at Palm Cove to punch so highly in the cuisine stakes, but award-winning eateries like Nu Nu Restaurant work their magic with the local specialty: seafood – and lots of it. Then again, with a view this pretty, even a scoop of gelato eaten on the beach will rock your world. Unsurprisingly, the lagoon and beachfront is the centre of the universe in Airlie Beach. Recent years have seen culinary efforts come up to par with the views here, with gourmet cafés like Mr Bones and craft beer and tapas haven Denman Cellars giving the town a muchneeded injection of sophistication. Noosa could arguably be credited with inventing beachfront café culture in Australia, and its annual food and wine festival draws in the food world’s biggest hitters. Hastings Street is its cosmopolitan backbone, where patrons people-watch

Best beach drives 42

75 Mile Beach, Fraser Island It’s not every day – nor everywhere – that you can put the pedal to the metal along a national highway that doubles as a landing strip. Keep an eye out for planes!

over their flat whites from a well-placed chair at Aromas. But it’s not just food on the menu in this town, with annual arts and jazz festivals, TED talks and even a body-art festival complementing the lycra-laden sporting events calendar. The hipster to Noosa’s style set, Burleigh Heads continues to grow and infiltrate the backstreets, so now chilled‑out cafés play alongside beachfront fine dining, and fortnightly local designer markets provide a retail hit. However, grabbing takeaway and nabbing a patch of grass on the headland to watch the surfers in the rolling sets below still rates highest in most people’s books. Back on the Sunshine Coast, Mooloolaba has always been a popular beach getaway, but now that the lattetoting, green juice-sipping crowds have descended, the beach almost plays second fiddle to the café scene. Chews and views? Yep, it’s got the best of both worlds.

Noosa to Rainbow Beach Cross over to Noosa North Shore via the car ferry at Tewantin and take the scenic route past Teewah Beach, Double Island Point and the coloured sands to Rainbow Beach.

Moreton Island The beach is the highway and the sand tracks the backstreets when you’re on Moreton Island – it’s 98 per cent national park and can only be traversed by 4WD.

Photos © Imagebrief/Ippei Naoi, Imagebrief/Karl Lundholm, iStock, Louise Herlitz/Denman Cellars

Cafés, culture and sand

Magnetic Island has somehow managed to stay relatively off the radar of most travellers, but a quick ferry ride from Townsville will have you experiencing beaches as deserted as they would have been when Captain Cook sailed by in 1770. There’s a reason Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays consistently rates as the most popular beach in Australia and makes ‘best beaches’ lists the world over – it’s only accessible by boat or seaplane, so you’re already starting with a rockstar entrance. Add to that seven kilometres of squeakyclean silica sand and technicolour views

and you may just be ruined for any other beach for life. Most people don’t know it, but here there are six BYO-everything camping sites available to be booked for only $5.75 per night per person. Dingo Beach is a well-kept secret of mainland Whitsundays locals, who – when the crowds get too much – scoot out of Airlie Beach for a drive along a dirt road, which ends at a coconut palm-strewn stretch of sand overlooking Gloucester Island. Once you’ve had a swim, mosey on over to Dingo Beach Hotel for live music and sundowners.

Add to that seven kilometres of squeaky-clean silica sand and technicolour views and you may just be ruined for any other beach for life.” Travel ideas



Island life


Best beach walks Noosa National Park, Sunshine Coast Look up to see koalas in the treetops and stop at each bay to snap photos, or take the cooler rainforest tracks. North Gorge Headland Walk, North Stradbroke Island Short and sweet, this 1.2-kilometre hike offers whale-spotting between June and November. Greenmount Beach to Rainbow Bay, Gold Coast Walk past famous surf breaks and continue up to Point Danger, where you can plant one foot in Queensland and the other in New  South Wales. Caloundra Coastal Walk, Sunshine Coast Wrapping its way from Golden Beach to Currimundi Lake, this walking track and boardwalk (in places) serves up beaches, cafés, lookouts and a good workout to boot. Carlo Sandblow, Rainbow Beach A 1.2-kilometre walk from the beach will put you at the car park, and another 600 metres will see you face to face with the wide expanse of the Carlo Sandblow and its coloured sand cliffs. Forts Walk, Magnetic Island A 90-minute round trip, this is best done in the early morning or late afternoon for koala-spotting, 360-degree views of the Coral Sea and a WWII history lesson.

Photo © Imagebrief/Lisa Michele Burns

With epic surf, the Great Barrier Reef and ocean massages on the menu, a Queensland island escape can mean so much more than swaying palm trees and white-sand beaches. Besides the blockbusters everyone knows about – One&Only Hayman, Hamilton, Fraser – there is a surprising number of islands that provide the kind of untouched beaches travellers are happy spending thousands of dollars to reach. The totally uninhabited Frankland Islands are a well-kept secret off Cairns, and only one operator takes a maximum of 100 daytrippers over. Expect sugary-white sand, snorkelling right off the beach and croc-spotting on the trip back through the mangroves of the Mulgrave River. Keswick Island sits pretty off the coastline of Mackay with no resorts, no crowds and no cars. Though you’ll need your own boat (or a charter from the mainland), once there you can expect complete isolation on five sandy beaches, koalas blissing out in the trees above and million-dollar views for days. The Southern Great Barrier Reef may already be on the radar of nature lovers, but Heron, Lady Elliot and Lady Musgrave Islands remain relatively anonymous when it comes to best beach lists. If you like the idea of stepping off the sand into an underwater wonderland where resident manta rays, turtles and more than 1200 species of marine life are ready to play, the beaches here won’t disappoint. But if your idea of paradise is a long stretch of sand, calm warm water and not a soul in sight, Great Keppel Island beckons. A 30-minute ferry ride from the mainland of Yeppoon will take you to 17 beaches that showcase nature in its most raw state. And then there’s Fraser Island. With rainforests sprouting from sand, freshwater lakes and shipwrecks, the beach experience here is as rugged as it is epically beautiful.

If you like the idea of stepping off the sand into an underwater wonderland… the beaches here won’t disappoint.”

Getting there

Snorkelling in the crystal-clear waters of the Whitsundays is a notto-be-missed experience.

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice on Queensland beaches and the latest Queensland deals. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.

Travel ideas




The Captain Cook Highway between Cairns and Port Douglas has stunning views of land and sea.


A flock of magpie geese skims the water, settles on the surface and turns its attention to what lies below. A single white heron dips its head, unconcerned by their arrival or by ours as we settle quietly into the bird hide to watch. Hasties Swamp National Park, on the outskirts of Atherton, is providing me with a glimpse of the rich variety of wildlife to be seen in Tropical North Queensland. Beside me, wildlife photographer Sandy Carroll is pointing out the different birds in a hushed voice. “I come here a lot and there’s always something to see,” says Sandy, who lives near the small town of Yungaburra, another stop on my week-long discovery of the Great Tropical Drive touring route. From a base near Lake Eacham on the Atherton Tablelands, I’m intent on exploring as much of the region as I can, and the many self-drive routes that link the Great Tropical Drive make it easy to devise an itinerary to suit any timeframe

or interest. The hard part is choosing one or more of the 13 driving routes linking the Tropical North’s many attractions, but once you do, you’re bound to see more than you expected. Covering 2080 kilometres, the Great Tropical Drive takes in the coast route between Townsville and Cairns, as well as inland and Outback areas. It passes through six regions: Cooktown; Port Douglas and Daintree; Cairns and beaches; Mission Beach and the Cassowary Coast; Tropical Tablelands and Savannah Country; Townsville, Charters Towers and Hinchinbrook. To do it all, you’d need at least 12 days (or more, depending on your pace). I’ve ticked off some of the others on previous visits, so this time I’ve chosen to cruise just a few of the suggested routes. Winding through the valleys and villages that dot the Tablelands, there are plenty of places to stop: the magnificent Curtain and Cathedral fig trees, Travel ideas



C L O C KW I S E F R O M T O P L E F T Paddleboard

on Mossman River; more than 90 per cent of Australia’s bananas are grown in Queensland, in fields just like this one; flora and fauna come together in a spectacular array of colour.








the National Trust-listed Hou Wang Temple (a legacy of the area’s goldrush days), the quirky Spy & Camera Museum and the historic village of Herberton, where restored buildings dating back to the 1870s are filled with memorabilia of times past. Early one morning, I join locals taking a dip in Lake Eacham, an invigorating start to another day of exploring. At Yungaburra, I discover the new Avenue of Honour, a memorial to Australia’s fallen soldiers in Afghanistan, and take time for a drink at the historic Lake Eacham Hotel. At the Nerada tea plantation, the sight of tree kangaroos high in the branches is as welcome as the tea and scones served at the café. Another day, we head to Innisfail, Australia’s Art Deco capital. This town of about 8000 people is brimming with beautifully kept and restored examples of Art Deco architecture. Take a self-guided walk to explore them.


Innisfail sits at the junction of the North and South Johnstone Rivers, and we head through the hamlet of South Johnstone (dominated by a sugar mill) just as a sugar cane train rolls down the main street. It’s a reminder of the industry that is so important to this part of Queensland. But I’m intent on exploring another story. It’s the incredible tale of Spanish immigrant José Paronella, who in 1929 went about building a castle on the banks of Mena Creek, just outside South Johnstone. Now in ruins, surrounded by lush gardens and set on a lake with bridges and tunnels, Paronella Park has visitors flocking to see it. A circuit of waterfalls on the Tablelands includes Millaa Millaa Falls – good for platypus-spotting – as well as Zillie and Ellinjaa Falls. At Malanda Falls, you might be lucky enough to spot an elusive Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo.

For those travelling further south, one of Australia’s most spectacular waterfalls is Wallaman Falls, in Girringun National Park, 50 kilometres north west of Ingham in Hinchinbrook Shire. It is Australia’s longest single-drop waterfall, with water cascading more than 250 metres off a spectacular rock formation and into a large pool below. Off the coast, Hinchinbrook Island is one of Australia’s largest island national parks. Transfers are available from the town of Lucinda, taking you across the calm waters of the Hinchinbrook Channel (keep a close watch for dugong). A few days in Cairns opens up a different range of touring routes, including one through Kuranda that will allow you to explore the rainforest village’s many attractions (don’t miss the wonderful Australian Butterfly Sanctuary). Most visitors to Cairns are there to experience one thing: the Great Barrier Reef.

Photo page 46 © Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree Photos © Maxime Coquard, Sandy Carroll, Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree


Covering 2080 kilometres, the Great Tropical Drive takes in the coast route between Townsville and Cairns, as well as inland and Outback areas.”



The Daintree coastline has its fair share of unspoiled beaches; in summer, take a slight detour from Warwick for sunflowers aplenty in Allora; put the top down and drive – there are plenty of routes!



This is dinosau r country…







The Reef Fleet Terminal is bustling with tourists waiting for the boats that will take them to the outer reef, but we have wheels rather than water on our minds and are not to be seduced by the wonders of the reef on this visit. First up is part of the Reef to Rainforest trail, taking us up the coast from Cairns, past the scalloped palm-fringed bays of the Northern Beaches. En route to Port Douglas by way of the Captain Cook Highway, we stop at Palm Cove for brunch. Once in Port Douglas, we explore the boutiques, bars and restaurants of this tourist town and take a walk on the long sweep of Four Mile Beach. Beyond Port, as the locals call it, are the rainforest, waterholes and Indigenous culture of Mossman Gorge, and across the Daintree River, the road leads to


Cape Tribulation, the only place in the world where two World Heritage-listed sites meet. “This is dinosaur country,” another traveller tells me as we take the cross-river car ferry, referring not to the saltwater crocodiles that live here but to the flightless cassowary bird we are all hoping to see. Since sightings are becoming as rare as they are, we are not lucky this time. At Cape Tribulation, where the reef meets the rainforest, the sealed road ends. From here, the path north is the 4WD-only Bloomfield Track to Cooktown, an adventure in itself. Tropical North Queensland is a place for the unexpected. Whether you are hugging the coast, touring the undulating Tablelands or striking out west to less-travelled places, you will find much to surprise you.

Photos © Imagebrief/Gareth Mcguigan, Tourism and Events Queensland, Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree

Border Range Loop Drive

Covering about 530 kilometres, this three-day drive meanders from Brisbane to Ipswich and across the Great Dividing Range to Warwick, before heading to the villages of Tamborine Mountain. Admire the stately old homes of Ipswich, Queensland’s oldest provincial city, and get educated on train history at the Workshops Rail Museum before taking a picturesque drive through the Scenic Rim to Boonah. Take the Cunningham Highway at Aratula, stopping at the top of Cunninghams Gap for views back towards Brisbane and Moreton Bay, before continuing to Warwick, with its grand historical sandstone buildings. This is a good place to stay overnight, before tackling the second day, through the ranges of the Queensland-New South Wales border. Highlights along the way include the hamlet of Killarney, on the banks of the Condamine River, and Queen Mary Falls, where it is worth allowing an hour to do the two-kilometre circuit walk. Back on the road, take in the stunning views from Carrs Lookout and drive through spectacular rolling countryside to the arty villages of Tamborine Mountain and nearby Lamington National Park, part of a World Heritage-listed area, with the largest subtropical rainforest remnant in the world. Stay at the famous O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, scale the heights of the Tree Top Walk for expansive views, or take one of the many walking tracks at ground level. At the base of the mountain is the former timber town of Canungra, now lined with art and craft shops, with reminders of its history in the old tramway tunnel. Canungra Valley Vineyards offers tastings and platypus-spotting before you turn north to Brisbane.

Northern & Southern Food Trails Toowoomba is a great starting point for exploring either the Northern Food Trail or Southern Food Trail – or both! The Southern trail can be done as an easy day tour, covering about 150 kilometres and taking roughly two hours of driving time. From Toowoomba to Stanthorpe, the Southern Food Trail takes you through the rich farmlands of the Darling Downs and the Granite Belt, and along the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range. The climate here is ideal for growing olives, apples, berries and grapes, providing plenty of places to sample the produce and take some home. The Granite Belt has more than 50 wineries, vineyards and cellar doors to visit.

The Northern Food Trail runs from Toowoomba through the vineyards and olive groves of the South Burnett region, in a 460-kilometre loop to Goomeri. Take a few days to explore the beauty of the Bunya Mountains and experience the flavours of yesteryear with wholesome country fare and billy teas. Kingaroy’s Peanut Van, which has been serving travellers since 1969, is a must-visit for its wide variety of fresh, flavoured peanuts (everything from curry or wasabi to salt and vinegar). Wineries on the route include the region’s oldest, Crane Wines, and Queensland’s largest, Clovely Estate, as well as Moffatdale Ridge Winery and Arabesque Winery at Nanango. Goomeri is renowned for its homemade pies and local olives, and is the home of CheeseWorld and the annual Pumpkin Festival, held in May. Insider tip: Grazier Georgie Somerset, who’s lived in the South Burnett region for about 25 years, says: “In Kingaroy, make sure you find Taste South Burnett. It’s tucked into a little laneway but offers a fabulous selection of cheeses and local smallgoods – a perfect lunchtime treat and a welcome break from standard café fare, and wine tasting is available, too, for non-drivers.”

Getting there

The stunning Queen Mary Falls.

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice on driving in Queensland and the latest Queensland deals. Go to flightcentre. or call 131 600 24 hours.

Travel ideas




Photo © Tourism and Events Queensland

Words: Donna Kramer

Imagine how cool it would be to glide through the oldest rainforest in the world using new-age technology, or become friends with a freshly hatched turtle (left).

Travel ideas



Queensland is a family holiday mecca with activities and adventures for any age.”

of playing at the Children’s Art Centre at the Gallery of Modern Art and swimming in the toddler-friendly splash pools at South Bank as her older siblings took part in a Segway Tour and learned how to rock-climb at Riverlife in Brisbane. Next up was a ride on an authentic steam train at the Workshop Rail Museum in neighbouring Ipswich. We kept boredom at bay during the only rainy day of our stay with a few hours at Sciencentre, where all our children happily played (and learned) for hours.

C L O C KW I S E F R O M TO P L E F T There’s a barrel of

laughs to be had at Australian Outback Spectacular; Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast has a dedicated zone for kids; hop on The Wheel of Brisbane – it’s the best way to see the city at night; take a ride on the historic cane train at The Ginger Factory on the Sunshine Coast; kids will love the wackiness of Sciencentre!


Boasting beach-friendly weather all year, Queensland is a family holiday mecca with activities and adventures for any age, interest and budget. Our family of six – two parents and four children (Meghan, 15; Will, 14; Ella, 10; and Jaala, 3) – have spent the past five years of school holidays exploring Queensland’s endless beaches, lush rainforests and adventurous Outback. Here’s our guide to what we consider the go‑to family holiday destinations.


Jaala may be the youngest in our brood, but that doesn’t stop her from having the lion’s share of the fun. She loves sleeping in a hotel bed and eating out at


a restaurant almost as much as Wiggles World at Dreamworld, the live Dora’s Best Friend Adventure show at Sea World and the Tweety and Sylvester Cages at Movie World. There are many preschoolfriendly aspects of the Gold Coast’s theme parks and attractions, which also include Australian Outback Spectacular, Paradise Country farm and Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast. BRISBANE

There is nothing more enjoyable for young children than sitting on the top level of the CityHopper ferry as it putts along the Brisbane River, or soaring above buildings on The Wheel of Brisbane, or ‘My Giant Wheel’, as Jaala now affectionately calls it, after she did a few loops in it following a morning

“Is that the baby turtle I rescued, Mummy?” This is the question I get asked by Jaala every time a baby turtle appears on TV. It’s not every day a three-year-old gets the opportunity to relocate a freshly laid loggerhead turtle egg to a safe spot up the beach, as part of a world-renowned turtle conservation program, but it’s all part of the nightly turtle experience at Mon Repos Regional Park near Bundaberg. Each year, from November to March, the Southern Great Barrier Reef region plays host to Queensland’s turtle season, which welcomes nesting turtles and their hatchlings into the world. Witnessing the nesting turtle and working with the rangers to relocate the eggs to a safer spot was a magical experience.


“What do you mean the resort has its own waterpark?” Ella could not get

over the excitement and convenience of a splashtastic waterpark just metres from our two-bedroom villa at the Oaks Oasis resort, just a short stroll from Golden Beach. Prior to checking in, our family had had enough action and adventure to last a week. We’d spent the first half of the morning staring at the crocodiles and cuddling koalas at Australia Zoo, and the second half decorating delicious gingerbread men at The Ginger Factory. We should have come home for an afternoon nap, but the lure of Oaks’ 500-square-metre splash pool, complete with waterslides, fountains and a giant tipping bucket, was too much for our youngest family members to resist.

Caloundra is a family friendly community on the southernmost end of the Sunshine Coast, which is home to a variety of accommodation options, eight beaches, rock pools and a diverse café scene that hosted us for budget-friendly dinners throughout our stay. Better yet, it’s just a short drive from the famous Eumundi Markets and quaint Hinterland villages of Montville and Maleny. TOWNSVILLE

Whether it’s learning about the sharkbreeding program or turtle hospital at Reef HQ Aquarium (which is also home to the world’s largest living coral reef exhibition), trekking on Magnetic Island or learning about the impacts of a tropical cyclone in the Museum of Tropical Queensland, Travel ideas




As soon as I stepped out of our room I could hear laughter, and I instantly knew it was my family having a ball somewhere on Daydream Island. When I hunted them down, I found our eldest two children, Meghan and Will, knee-deep in the resort’s Living Reef, handfeeding stingrays as part of the island’s Stingray Splash tour. there are attractions to spark the curiosity of children of all ages. Townsville is home to Queensland’s environmental trifecta: reef, rainforest and the Outback. Here, families can look out for the endangered southern cassowary in the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics or see Australia’s largest herd of pure-bred Texas Longhorn cattle at Leahton Park after panning for gold in Charters Towers, home of one of the largest goldrushes in Queensland history. THE OUTBACK

While we love dipping our toes in the water, our most memorable family holidays have come from hitching a camper trailer to our car and heading out west, where we’ve spent weekends camping under the stars among the beauty of the Queensland Outback. A clear highlight for Ella was our visit to Winton, the site of the only known dinosaur stampede in the world, and the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum, where she spent time in the biggest fossil preparation laboratory in the southern hemisphere and learned how to care for fossils using the proper skills and tools. She also loved the tour inside the 747 and 707 jets at the National Heritage-listed Qantas Hangar at Longreach Airport. All four of our children were captivated by the Outback Stockman’s Show at


The Living Reef at Daydream Island is home to more than 140 species of marine fish and 83 coral varieties, and this particular afternoon it was also home to our hysterical teenagers, who had “the most funnest time” of their lives there. As well as the animal adventures of feeding fish and cuddling koalas on Hamilton Island, the Whitsundays dished out some action-packed fun, including mini golf and pedal-kart races at Big4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort.

Photos © Alamy, Tourism and Events Queensland

the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame – it was the first time any of them had witnessed the quintessential Australian character of the stockman and learned about the stories of the men, women and children living in Outback Queensland. Visiting the Outback always feels like an educational adventure that stands apart from our regular beach-focused holidays, and one that all our children use as the topic for school projects.


“You seriously want me to surf over the top of the rainforest canopy?” It took some time for Meghan to wrap her head around the morning’s adventure of ziplining through the rainforest, but once she was on board she proclaimed it to be the most fun she’d ever had.


Meghan, Will and and Jaala enjoy breakfast with the koalas at Hamilton Island; marine life is celebrated in Hervey Bay; from the Coast to the Outback, it’s easy to love Australia’s far horizons; the fishing is tops in Hervey Bay; Heron Island’s crystalclear water is framed by white sands.

Tropical North Queensland is home to countless adrenalin-pumping activities that will keep teenagers off Facebook for an entire day. It was here that we entered a land with no wi-fi as we explored the Daintree Rainforest and snorkelled above the Great Barrier Reef as part of a glassbottom boat tour. FRASER COAST

“We could stay here for a week and not fish from every jetty!” Will’s soul had found its home at Hervey Bay. He would have been thrilled if we said we were staying there for a month. We were there primarily for a whale-watching adventure, yet we all fell in love with the beachside town and its close proximity to both Fraser and Lady Elliot islands. Our day out in the bay searching for nature’s water giants delivered

excitement in spades. On our four-hour Hervey Bay whale-watching tour, which operates from mid-July to early November, we saw five separate pods of spirited whales. Each time, they splashed around our boat like playful puppies, blowing water, slapping their tails and swimming up to the vessel to get a closer look at us. They also came to play the following day as we headed over to Fraser Island for 4WD-ing across – and, of course, fishing from – the world’s largest sand island.

Getting there

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice on family travel and the latest Queensland deals. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.

Travel ideas



From roving entertainers to enthusiastic bartenders, Soleil Pool Bar is all about heating up the night.




Photo © Jared Vethaak


The night belongs to lovers. They’re swept off their feet, brows beaded from the humidity. They sip sundowners in rainforests, toes in the sand, or on rooftop bars listening to the city purr below. And they’ve all fallen for the same siren song: the sounds of Queensland after dark. If you’re not camped under a blanket of stars or committed to a patio party with a well‑stocked esky, the night is yours for the taking, and Queensland is a more than accommodating host. The capital best knows how to lure folk out past bedtime. Brisbane is hardly a city that never sleeps – in fact, an early morning run and a green smoothie are usually preferred to a boozy all-nighter – but it’s no piker either. There are countless spots for an evening aperitif in the River City, from hideaways like Super Whatnot and sister establishments Red Hook and Coppa Spuntino to elevated watering holes Soleil Pool Bar at Rydges South Bank, Lennons Restaurant & Bar at Next Hotel and The Rooftop at Limes Hotel, where grown‑up pool parties are the trend du jour. Then there’s Australia’s first designated entertainment precinct: Fortitude Valley. Clubs, pubs and bars line this inner-city hub, with Cloudland your best bet for style and new beast on the block Woolly Mammoth Alehouse a more than fitting low-key option. The Valley, as it’s known to Brisbanites, sheds its grunge factor just up the road in James Street, where Sixes and Sevens and Gerard’s Bar wet whistles before matinées at Palace Cinemas or cheeky comedy skits down the road at Brisbane Powerhouse. Indeed, Brisbane is becoming a nightowl’s utopia, with trendy new spots springing up on a seemingly weekly basis, making long-standing cultural epicentres Sydney and Melbourne sit up and take notice. Fill your belly at a gastropub (Statler & Waldorf), a cocktail-slinging designer tavern (Alfred and Constance) or a modern incarnation of a speakeasy (Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, recently named Australian bar of the year by Gourmet Traveller). Travel ideas



Whatever your poison, you’ve got your whisky dens (Cobbler), gin joints (Dutch Courage Officers’ Mess) and an army of hipster barristers muddling in mason jars on both sides of the river. If your thirst is already quenched, there’s still plenty on offer to keep the night young. The Gallery of Modern Art and adjacent Queensland Art Gallery are known to stay open late with live tunes and talks on their leading exhibitions, while venues such as The Triffid and Brooklyn Standard have added a booming new bassline to Brisbane’s live music scene. Brisbane’s main competition for ‘nightlife capital’ status is undoubtedly the Gold Coast. Best known for its mega clubs including SinCity, Platinum and Vanity, the Gold Coast is the place for getting down, dusk ’til dawn. And if you have to make curfew, there’s still time to slam a tequila mixer in style at QT hotel’s Stingray, sip cocktails from the sky-high Seventy7 Café & Bar at SkyPoint or swig a craft beer at One50 Public House. The further north you venture, the slower the clocks seem to turn. There’s no need for daylight savings; dusk comes as a blessing, putting Queenslanders in a cooler state of mind. By the time you get to Mackay, halfway up the Queensland coast (or down, if that’s your outlook), the attitude is noticeably more nonchalant. Post meridiem, you’ll find Mackay locals lingering in the compact


Photos © Alamy, Jared Vethaak, QAGOMA, Studio Impressions

Laid-back Salt House at Marina Point, Cairns, has superb views – and even better beverages. Alfredo’s in Fortitude Valley serves fresh pizza until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. Catch a live performance at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art on Friday nights. You’re sure to find a magnificent drink at one of Cloudland’s two bars in Fortitude Valley. The Brisbane Powerhouse doesn’t just offer intellectual stimulation. Every element of South Bank’s Soleil Pool Bar is inspired by Queensland’s eternal sunshine.

way to Magnetic Island under the full moon for an unbeatable night of DJ beats and barefoot boogieing on the beach. As the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree, Cairns is a hub for young nomads who, along with the packs on their backs, bring with them a pining to party. Cairns’ year-round balmy temperatures also ensure the drinks flow freely. On one end of the spectrum is the iconic backpacker bar Gilligan’s – its walls forever thumping and lights always strobing. On the other end is the marina-side Salt House, with more thoughtfully poured cocktails than you’ll find on the backpacker circuit. This cruisy city in the Far North has it all: low-key, high-end and plenty of middle ground in the form of the classic pub. Most regional towns down tools at noon on a Saturday, to the bane of city slickers who embark on weekend escapes to the country. The butcher, pharmacist, grocer and newsagent – you’ll find them all down at the local watering hole. From Babinda to Birdsville, all great Queensland towns have a great Queensland pub to their name. There’s the historic (Nindigully Pub, established in 1864, in the south west), the tiny (Oasis Roadhouse, where two is a crowd, south west of Cairns) and the iconic (Walkabout Creek Hotel, Crocodile Dundee-approved, at McKinlay in the Outback, south east of Mount Isa).

Cheers to that! Nobody tell Mr Fourex, but Queenslanders’ palates have adapted beyond the traditional gold tinnie. Up north, sweettooths always go back for seconds at Golden Drop Winery and Mt Uncle Distillery, home to the world’s first marshmallow liqueur.

Any true-blue Queensland pub worth its stein will have a local draught on tap, like a Burleigh Brewing Co. tipple or maybe even a Stanthorpe apple cider.

They squeeze into the impeccably styled Vintage Room, salivate over chocolate mojitos and get their Tex-Mex fix at Cactus Jack’s.” city centre. They squeeze into the impeccably styled Vintage Room, salivate over chocolate mojitos at Dirty Martinis and get their Tex-Mex fix at Cactus Jack’s – a cheesy-in-all-the-rightways Queensland institution. As a university town and army base, Townsville loves to kick up its heels. Thankfully, a noticeable cool change is sweeping through the North Queensland city, with establishments like The Brewery and the chic new City Lane precinct giving the ’Ville an edge of sophistication. These days, a low-key libation is a welcome alternative. Serious revellers know to ferry their

Queensland is definitely about the people you meet as well as the places you go. Publicans who are part of the furniture, local larrikins who think their tiny town is the start and end of the earth, hip young things who had the nous to follow their noses and now run an empire of awardwinning bars – you’ll meet them all. If you’re more of a morning person, set the alarm a little later and knock back a flat white in the early afternoon. Do whatever you can to soak up every memorable moment in Queensland, because the best is yet to come – just as soon as the sun slips away. Travel ideas

If you know your semillons from your sauvignons, swirl, sniff and sip your way through the Granite Belt or South Burnett regions.

Want something without the alcohol content? The Nutella milkshakes at Brisbane’s Eat Street Markets are a sugar lover’s dream drink – and the atmosphere is incredible too!

Getting there

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice and the latest Queensland deals. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.


city scoop TRAVEL GUIDES

City scoop we as ke d i n-t h e-k now locals f or t heir top t ip s on w he r e to eat, d rink and p l ay




Ioesco, Hope Island

This Italian restaurant is my favourite because everything on the menu is five-star and the service is impeccable!

1two3, Broadbeach

Broadbeach is my favourite space for funky bars and live music. It has a vibrant feel with plenty of nightlife options. 1two3 has a big range of local and international wines as well as tasty seasonal cocktails.

This former boat shed sitting on the riverbank has plenty of style and mellow tunes. The live jazz gigs are awesome! PLAY


Paddington, a couple of kilometres west of Brisbane’s CBD, is a vintage lover’s heaven, with antique shops as well as local designer, vintage and retro clothing stores. DAY TRIP

Lamington National Park

Insider info

For food and lifestyle, head to Sanctuary Cove, where you can eat, play golf and shop at fabulous boutiques.

North Stradbroke Island

Who wouldn’t want to be stuck on an island with clear blue water, sandy beaches and curious local wallabies? It’s what honeymooners’ dreams are made of – and just a short ferry ride from Brisbane!

A great mix of people of various ages come together to appreciate guest DJs performing funk, soul and some classic house.

Mooloolaba Beach

So picturesque! Take a picnic lunch or dine at one of the many local restaurants with incredible views over the coast. It’s also a great spot to buy unique gifts from local artists at any one of Montville’s many galleries or craft cottages.

Insider info

Even though it feels like a main city, the Gold Coast still has a humble beach-town sense about it, and you always feel like you’re on holidays!” Dayen Zheng, Hi-5 performer

Why I love it…

Brisbane has the most breathtaking purple rain of jacarandas in spring and the friendliest locals.” Juliet Siu, fashion editor and blogger at

Insider info

On a laid-back Saturday, head to Eumundi Markets to explore the stalls, nibble on tasty international cuisine and listen to cool local musos.

Why I love it…

We have a casual beach lifestyle with the option of being in a capital city in less than an hour!” Mark Gacesa, award-winning architectural interior designer

Red Arrow Walk

Salt House

The Strand, Townsville

Along this palm tree-studded stretch you’ll find restaurants and bars with amazing water views as well as free family fun.


Insider info

Crystal Cascades is a secluded freshwater swimming hole that only locals know about. The series of small waterfalls, hidden in Redlynch, flows into large pools surrounded by oversized boulders.

Why I love it…

If you want to go to the beach or to a waterfall, you can drive 15 minutes in any direction and find the ideal spot.” Grace Lillian Lee, fashion designer

Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island on the North Queensland coast is almost 70 per cent untouched national park. This paradise is located just 20 minutes from Townsville. SECRET TIP

Primal Pantry

Lake Annand Park

This new paleo-inspired café serves delicious healthy meals. It’s always on my must-visit list when I get back to Toowoomba. The salmon is simply incredible.

The Spotted Cow

At this popular pub you are guaranteed to run into someone you know, and it has a really good vibe out the back. PLAY


Port Douglas

The one-hour coastal drive from Cairns to Port Douglas along the Captain Cook Highway has to be one of the most fantastic scenic drives in Australia, with plenty of places to stop and take in the views.


Heritage Bar, Townsville

Heritage Bar (above) is a trendy nightspot with groovy tunes and a hip crowd. Its restaurant-quality food is delicious, too.



Strolling the Red Arrow Walk to look over Cairns is a great way to appreciate the stunning city.

Frank’s Pizza Napoli, Mysterton

I was blessed to grow up around Italians and experience authentic Italian cuisine, so when I choose to wine and dine, this place is always my first option.


DAY TRIP Kondalilla National Park, Montville


Salt House has that relaxed Cairns vibe. Grab the kiwi cocktail and listen to the local musicians playing live.

You can’t go past the picturesque Mooloolaba Beach, with its white sand, beautiful water, eateries, various kids parks and dog‑friendly areas.





Brisbane is home to internationally acclaimed fashion labels Gail Sorronda, George Wu, Black Milk Clothing, Maiocchi, Dogstar and Sabo Skirt.

Eato’s is a not-for-profit organisation that gives people who are unemployed the opportunity to work in a cafe environment. And the food is really, really, really good!

Solbar, Maroochydore







Spice Bar, Mooloolaba

Award-winning Asian fusion menu, superb service and a killer view (that I designed!).


Why I love it…


Any theme park



People think the Gold Coast is all about the beach, but about an hour away you’ll find the lush landscape of Lamington National Park – and let me tell you, it’s as sweet as it sounds. Walking tracks, waterfalls, cottage crafts and coffee make for a perfect day out.

Brisbane Jazz Club, Kangaroo Point



You can’t come to the Gold Coast and not go to a theme park. Even as an adult it’s heaps of fun!



Sono, Hamilton

Found in the riverside setting of Hamilton’s Portside Wharf, this Japanese restaurant has the freshest, most authentic-tasting seafood.


Sunshine Coast

Photos © Clare Powell/Heritage Bar, Gold Coast Tourism, Tourism and Events Queensland

Gold Coast

Insider info

The wide and sandy Pallarenda Beach makes for great kite-surfing conditions. Need a hand? IntheLoop is a local company that offers lessons and gear for kite surfing, standup paddleboarding, wakeboarding and many other activities.

Why I love it…

Townsville is the gateway to the World Heritagelisted Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics rainforest.” Belinda Black, Miss North Queensland 2013 INBA champ

The lake’s recreation area is a lovely spot for a picnic, a walk (I love taking my dog with me) or even a cycle around the lake if you’re the more active type. DAY TRIP

Bunya Mountains National Park

I used to go here regularly as a child and I have very fond memories of it. There are lots of walking tracks and some really cool places to explore. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place. SECRET TIP

Insider info

Toowoomba prides itself on serving some of the best brekkies in Queensland. Don’t just settle for a cuppa in the morning – fill your belly for the day ahead at one of the many local cafés.

Why I love it…

It’s full of parks, gardens, blossoming flowers and friendly people, with so many places to enjoy the outdoors.” Emilee Cherry, Qantas Women’s Sevens rugby player

Travel ideas


travel planner

y o u r g u i d e t o w h at’s o n i n q u e e n s l a n d









2015 2016


Brisbane Baroque

A cultural celebration of late 17th and early 18th century music staged at venues such as the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), Brisbane City Hall and the Queensland Conservatorium Theatre.

David Lynch

‘David Lynch: Between Two Worlds’ explores the work of the American filmmaker and visual artist. The exhibition features more than 200 works, including drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, mixed media, music, film and video creations.




Gold Coast Film Festival

International features meet local indie gems at this 10day film festival set by golden sands. The program includes SIPFest – the Gold Coast’s biggest short-film festival with experts on site to judge and award more than $5000 in prizes to competitors.


Noosa International Food & Wine Festival

Cooly Rocks On

Coolangatta and Tweed Heads will come alive with rock’n’roll fever. More than 50 Australian rock’n’roll and rockabilly bands will perform alongside international artists, and over 1300 cars will line the streets for one of the biggest car displays ever staged in Australia.

More than 250 foodies – chefs, producers, wine makers and media – will colour Noosa in all things gastronomy come May. The fresh fare is a highlight and new events include a wild food dinner and the unveiling of new foodie trails. There are also plenty of discussions planned (with the country’s top media and restaurateurs) spanning food trends, lifestyle and more.

Julia Creek Dirt ’n’ Dust Festival

Now in its 21st year, the heat and dust of Julia Creek push triathletes to new levels.

01NRL Trans-Tasman MAY, BRISBANE

Test Match


Blues on Broadbeach Music Festival

Join headliners James Morrison and Jeff Lang in a free concert complemented by a range of cultural satellite events. 22–31 MAY, PORT DOUGLAS

Port Douglas Carnivale

Celebrating 21 years in Suncorp Stadium will host the 2015, the Port Douglas traditional Trans-Tasman Rugby Carnivale is a festive League Test Match between celebration of food, fun Australia and New Zealand. The and family in beautiful Port Test is the only international Douglas. Be sure to check match between the Kangaroos out the new (and somewhat and the Kiwis in 2015, a tribute unusual) inclusion to the to 100 years since the ANZAC festival repertoire: the National landing at Gallipoli. Esky Racing Championships.


Gold Coast Airport Marathon

Staged in one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world and regarded as one of Australia’s premier sporting events, the Gold Coast Airport Marathon is set to attract more than 28,000 participants of all ages and abilities from Queensland, interstate and overseas.


some Save e! for m



14–17 MAY, NOOSA



Cairns Airport Adventure Festival

V8 Supercars Castrol EDGE Townsville 400

The festival features an event for everyone – triathlons, mountain bike challenges, water activities and more. 26 JUNE–4 JULY, WINTON

Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival Words: Sheridan Wright. Photos © Alciro Theodoro da Silva, Andrea Francolini/AUDI, iStock



A celebration of Australian film in the Outback, under a spectacular blanket of stars.

Set in a parkland style circuit in Reid Park, with close to 70 per cent of the circuit made up of constructed roads, this is one of three exciting V8 Super Street Queensland events. 17–19 JULY, BRISBANE

Brisbane’s Mega Football Fanatics Weekend

On 17 July, watch Liverpool FC go up against Brisbane Roar. On 18 July, it’s the Rugby Championship, with Australia playing South Africa. Finish the weekend off watching Brisbane Broncos play Wests Tigers on 19 July.


Ekka: Royal Queensland Show

Queensland’s largest annual event, the Ekka, showcases all that’s great across talent, culture and produce alongside a sideshow alley of rides and entertainment.

7-16 August



Australian Festival of Chamber Music

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week

Ten idyllic days of music (30 concerts) and warmth in a tropical location. 7–9 AUGUST, MOUNT ISA

Mt Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo

Australia’s largest offshore sailing regatta offers an experience like no other: navigating the crystal-clear waters of the Whitsundays.

The largest rodeo in the southern hemisphere, featuring Australia’s best rodeo action across bull riding, saddle bronc, bareback, steer wrestling, roping and barrel racing.


Gympie Music Muster

Watch the serene Amamoor State Forest transform into a heaving celebration of all things country and music.

Travel ideas


travel planner

y o u r g u i d e t o w h at’s o n i n q u e e n s l a n d

21 From




Black Toyota Warwick Gold Cup Campdraft and Jack Daniels Rodeo

Australian PGA Championship

Subaru Oceania Mountain Bike Championships

Australia’s oldest professional golf tournament (the PGA traces its origin back to 1911) is back. The immersive fourday championship will be held in Queensland’s capital this year.

Queensland’s best horses and riders compete for more than $150,000 worth of prizes for their expert cattle herding.


Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers


The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art

This exhibition, featuring more than 75 emerging and established artists, filmmakers and performers, will reflect the vigour of expanding creative centres throughout Asia and the Pacific.


Food, wine and all things gardens, the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers is colour in the heart of Southern Queensland Country. There are gardens to explore, wine and food tours to indulge in and even classic car and railway events to enjoy. 18–20 SEPTEMBER, YEPPOON

Capricorn Food & Wine Festival

Be inspired with interactive demonstrations by top chefs and live music from local musicians. This festival hosts signature dining experiences, food and wine masterclasses, and interactive cooking classes.


Birdsville Races

An alluring contrast of a dirt track and racewear, this annual event attracts a crowd keen to celebrate the unique experience of a truly Outback race day.


Gold Coast 600 V8 Supercars

The Gold Coast’s biggest party is back in October – get ready for three days of heart-stopping action-packed racing.


Fortitude Valley Markets

01Subaru Noosa

These markets offer a colourful variety of mobile food stalls, licensed and themed eating areas, vintage markets, art installations, live entertainment and creative pop-ups.


Triathlon Multi Sport Festival

The largest festival of its kind in the southern hemisphere, it’s also the third largest Olympicdistance triathlon in the world. Watch or compete – just get involved!


Glengallan Seasonal Markets

Find an array of craft stalls and entertainment in the shadow of the impressive Glengallan Homestead.

Noosa Jazz Festival

There’s great jazz (of course) as well as blues and folk music. The program also includes master classes, lazy lunches, talent searches and river cruises. 66

Brisbane International Garden Show 5–13 SEPTEMBER, BUNDABERG

Bundy Flavours Festival

Celebrate the best the region has to offer. This event showcases Bundaberg’s locally grown produce alongside a celebration of all things food and gardening.

Greenies rejoice. Staged for the first time at Pine Rivers Park, Strathpine in Moreton Shire, the Brisbane International Garden Show will feature landscape and floral displays, talks and even edible garden features.

Photos © Eyes Wide Open Images, iStock



Millions Raceday

Australia’s richest race day attracts an international audience, where horses race to secure a slice of the $4.7 million in prize money. JANUARY, BRISBANE

Brisbane International presented by Suncorp

The Brisbane International is widely regarded as the warm-up to the Australian Open.


Watch biking daredevils hit full speed!

Woodford Folk Festival

Escape reality and immerse yourself in cultures near and far when more than 2000 performers appear in concerts, dances, street theatre, comedy sessions and so much more! Whether you’re inclined to move, laugh or listen, camping on site is the best way to get among the festivities.

Airlie Beach Festival of Music


09 2016 Jeep Magic



National artists perform over three days, set against a laidback island landscape. Bliss.

The elite of the South Pacific mountainbiking world converge on their way to championship glory.


Market in the Mountains

Celebrate locals who make it, bake it, grow it or sew it. Plenty of treasures here!


Cairns Chinese New Year

Celebrate the Lunar New Year with a vibrant and mesmerising display of traditional and modern culture and entertainment for the Year of the Monkey in 2016.

See Australia’s best live events in the best destinations. Download your Queensland events calendar at

Getting there

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice and the latest Queensland deals. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.

Travel ideas


FROM LEFT Warner Bros. Movie World’s Green Lantern Coaster features the steepest drop in the southern hemisphere; you’ll find some beautiful animals in Outback Queensland; Bacchus’ dessert degustation is one of a kind; One&Only Hayman Island offers luxury at its finest; what better way to start the day than with a hot-air balloon ride?






Experience one: A variety of family friendly theme parks and local attractions make the Gold Coast the perfect entertainment hub. Take advantage of a Super Pass, which allows you 28 consecutive days of unlimited theme park fun at Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast and Sea World. Add on a three- or 21-day Holiday World Pass, giving you the opportunity to experience Dreamworld, WhiteWater World and SkyPoint Observation Deck at the Q1. To make the visits even easier, a Freedom Pass is ideal. It includes a coach transfer service between theme parks and the airport as well as unlimited rides on the local Surfside Buslines bus network. Experience two: Head to the Outback! See some Aussie legends at the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre in Longreach, and keep the kids entertained on a visit to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs and Waltzing Matilda Centre, both in Winton. Discover some of the rich landscapes and characters that make up Australia’s heritage by enjoying the award-winning Drover’s Sunset Cruise along Thomson River, or indulge in an exclusive dining experience at the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach. Outback Queensland comes alive with many exciting

For the luxury lover

annual events, like the Birdsville Races. Visitors can also embrace the extraordinary variety of wildlife and visit a working cattle station, soaking up Outback Queensland’s diverse experiences.


BreakFree Cosmopolitan in Surfers Paradise BreakFree Cosmopolitan offers self-contained one- and two-bedroom apartments, making it perfect for families looking to stay in the heart of the action for a bargain. The apartments feature private balconies with ocean or Hinterland outlooks, which gives everyone a great view to wake up to before conquering the theme parks. North Gregory Hotel in Winton Stay in comfort while experiencing great food and service at a hotel steeped in history. The North Gregory Hotel in Winton offers a range of standard and deluxe rooms along with 15 unpowered van sites behind the hotel, so there is something to suit everyone’s budget. With karaoke now available at the Horseshoe Bar, it also means you can sing ‘Waltzing Matilda’ to your heart’s content!

Getting there

Flight Centre has great deals on Queensland packages throughout the year. Keep an eye out for sales and visit your closest store to chat to a consultant about getting the best rate. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.


Photos © Jared Vethaak/JV Photography, Lauren Bath, Mark Clinton Photo, One&Only Hayman Island, Tourism and Events Queensland

For the budget savvy

Whatever type of holiday you’re looking for, there are plenty of budget options to choose from in Queensland.


Those who appreciate a luxury travel experience will certainly find what they’re looking for (and more) in Queensland.


Experience one: Brisbane is a haven for fine-dining foodie finds. A dinner reservation at Brisbane’s highest awarded and only three-hatted restaurant, Esquire, is a must. Seasonality and market availability dictates the menu and guests are treated to a different variation (anywhere from 12 to 25 dishes) each night. Those with a sweet tooth will adore the dessert degustation at Bacchus; five delightfully decadent courses – need we say more? Wake up early the next day for a sunrise hot-air balloon ride over the Scenic Rim, followed by a champagne breakfast. Life in Brisbane can be as luxurious as you want it to be. Experience two: Noosa is the epicentre of luxury on the Sunshine Coast. Lush, modern accommodation such as The Rise Noosa, which boasts apartments, townhouses and penthouses, puts you at the heart of all the action and within easy reach of the pristine beachfront, upmarket boutiques and fine-dining restaurants such as Italian bistro Locale. While you can easily spend endless days (and dollars) living the high life in Noosa, venturing to the Hinterland is also must on an itinerary. Follow the charming Art Gallery Trail, knock on a few cellar doors, and enjoy an exquisite long lunch at The Long Apron in Montville.


Spicers Balfour Hotel Continually ranked as one of the best, Spicers Balfour Hotel in Brisbane’s trendy New Farm is a lavish and stylish accommodation choice for luxury lovers. Courteous staff ensure your stay is flawless, all rooms come smartly furnished, and (if you need another excuse) the cuisine is delicious. Every night from 6pm, guests are treated to canapés on the rooftop bar, which offers a beautiful view of Brisbane’s Story Bridge. It’s as blissful as it gets! One&Only Hayman Island If you’re looking for a luxurious seachange, book a Whitsundays stay at One&Only Hayman Island. Although there are a number of stylish suites here, the two-bedroom penthouse designed by world-acclaimed fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg is as lush as it gets. The striking space features a roomy lounge and dining area, large balcony, two bedrooms and two bathrooms, each with a separate shower, bath and double vanity. A stay here includes butler service, too, so you’ll be looked after in every sense.

Getting there

There are many luxury Queensland holidays on offer. Chat to your Flight Centre consultant about your needs and they will find the perfect indulgent holiday for you. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.

Travel ideas


FROM LEFT Kuranda Scenic Railway is an adventure in itself; take a helicopter flight over the Great Barrier Reef; scuba dive off Heron Island; there are birds aplenty at Lamington National Park; the impressive mountain villa at O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat; experience sea life without getting wet at Reef HQ.

The CHALLENGE continues

Head to Cairns

Stay at Mantra Trilogy: Conveniently located right on the Cairns Esplanade, overlooking all of the great attractions and activity of the waterfront and within easy walking distance of the lagoon as well as the shopping and dining district, Mantra Trilogy is an ideal choice. Accommodation options here range from contemporary hotel rooms with views of the ocean to spacious twoor three-bedroom apartments with fully equipped kitchens for longer stays. All room types feature a large balcony overlooking the city’s parklands or the ocean.



Activities: Queensland’s iconic Great Barrier Reef is just a short boat ride from buzzy Cairns and there is plenty to explore! There is a variety of day tours on offer as well as extended overnight tours that head out to the islands. The picturesque sand and crystal-clear water of Green Island provide the perfect spot for the whole family to witness the beauty of the reef (and the abundant sea life in it) with a snorkelling tour. After a long, lazy lunch, why not jump aboard a glass-bottom

Two weeks

boat for a viewing tour before heading back to the mainland? From the ocean to the Hinterland, it’s time to head up to scenic Kuranda for a different sort of exploration. Embark on a scenic train trip from Cairns up to Kuranda that weaves its way through tunnels and over bridges, taking in amazing views of the surrounding tropical rainforests. Spend the afternoon leisurely wandering through heritage markets before boarding the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway for the ride of a lifetime. Spanning 7.5 kilometres, you can learn about the World Heritage-listed canopy as you soar high above treetops and rivers in the Skyrail cable car. GRAB A DEAL

Take advantage of a reduced rate at Mantra Trilogy for stays from seven days – perfect for a week-long getaway!

Getting there

Whatever length of time you have in Queensland, Flight Centre has an itinerary for you. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.

Explore the Gold Coast Hinterland and Townsville

Photos © iStock, Paul Kingsley/Alamy, Tourism and Events Queensland

One week

Cairns is an exciting and modern city that acts as a hub to the beautiful World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, tropical islands and Daintree Rainforest. There are so many things to do and see in Cairns and surrounds, you could spend weeks in the area, however if you only have one week to play with, here’s how to keep it simple.

Not far from Surfers Paradise lies the Gold Coast Hinterland – the perfect place to explore everything nature has to offer. Afterwards, journey from the south to the north, seeing both ends of Queensland by exploring Townsville, where food offerings and activities are abundant.

Week 1

Stay at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in the Gold Coast Hinterland: Situated in the prime location of Lamington National Park, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is ideal for the whole family. Discover a rainforest filled with waterfalls, endless panoramic views and treetop walks. Self-contained suites give the whole family plenty of space, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a separate living room and the luxury of a fireplace. Activities: Experience wildlife firsthand with O’Reilly’s Bird Watching & Feeding in Lamington National Park. The whole clan can ‘meet the locals’ on the early morning bird walk at 6.45am. Expert guides will escort you through a range of hidden gems within the park, and kids will be kept busy trying to spot the colourful birds.


Week 2

Stay at Allure Hotel & Apartments in Townsville: These spacious two- and threebedroom apartments feature full kitchen facilities, plenty of space and huge balconies. There is also complimentary undercover parking and the complex is in a prime location (within walking distance to dining and entertainment options in the city as well as taking in brilliant views of Magnetic Island). Activities: The world’s largest living coral reef aquarium is housed at Reef HQ in Townsville, giving you the opportunity to experience the Great Barrier Reef without getting wet. It’s ideal for kids and also a great way to learn about sea life before heading into the water to explore further. There’s also a turtle hospital at the complex where holidaymakers can visit sick and injured turtles and learn about their rehabilitation. GRAB A DEAL

With a six-night minimum stay at Allure Hotel & Apartments, you can receive a reduced rate, meaning more money in your sightseeing budget.


Stay three nights in a mountain-view room at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat and only pay for two. Plus, get free wi-fi and a complimentary early morning rainforest walk or 4WD tour. Chat to your local Flight Centre consultant today!

Getting there

Whatever length of time you have in Queensland, Flight Centre has an itinerary for you. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.

Travel ideas


travel clinic

Travel clinic

when i t com e s to h ol id ay queri es , l et ou r e xp e r ts show th e way

My children (aged two and eight) are obsessed with koalas. Where can they cuddle one? Queensland is one of only two states in Australia where you can get close enough to a koala to cuddle it. From the Gold Coast all the way up to Cairns, there are more than 10 locations where you can snag a snuggle. Heading to the Gold Coast? Pop in to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. This place has been a magnet for adults and children for more than 40 years. Australians as well as overseas visitors, young and old, come here to hold a koala – and have their photo taken with it too. If your holiday plans take you further north, another popular spot to cuddle one of Australia’s favourite animals is Australia Zoo, Steve Irwin’s legacy, on the Sunshine Coast. Wherever you are in Queensland, you won’t have to travel too far to find a koala to cuddle. Other koala spots that will get you close to the critters include Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas, the Gold Coast’s Paradise Country, Dreamworld on the Gold Coast, Cairns Tropical Zoo, Cairns Wildlife Dome and Zoo, Wild Life Hamilton Island, Bungalow Bay Koala Village on Magnetic Island and Rainforestation Nature Park in Kuranda. LUISA PARTON, SENIOR TRAVEL CONSULTANT, FLIGHT CENTRE DONCASTER, VIC


My favourite spot to sail in Queensland would be the Whitsundays. You can sail as often as you want, and diving, snorkelling and kayaking are also great if you want to change it up. Boat-tour company Whitsundays Sailing Adventures has a large variety of options to suit all budgets. From performance sailing and classic cruising to outer reef and island diving, there’s a water adventure for everyone. You can choose between two days/one night, two days/two nights or a relaxing one-day adventure on the crystal-clear waters. You can also hire a boat from Whitsunday Escape and sail it yourself (called bareboating). With no crew or a skipper, you’re completely in charge of your own adventure. If you’d prefer someone else to do the driving, Whitsunday Holidays offers fully crewed luxury boats for hire for the ultimate sailing escapade.

Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall was recently named 2015 bar of the year by Australian Gourmet Traveller. I go there for great cocktails but there’s also a wide choice of whiskys and an always‑elegant vibe. Another one of my favourites is Riverbar & Kitchen, which has an outdoor seating area looking over Brisbane River. They serve cocktail jars and jugs along with a selection of finger foods and mains if you’re feeling peckish. Fortitude Valley’s Cloudland is another hotspot. The food is Italianinspired and every Thursday is salsa night, complete with live music so you can dance the night away.







My favourite spot to sail in Queensland would be the Whitsundays.”

My teenage daughter and I are heading to Queensland for a break. We both love to shop. Can you suggest a few places we can grab a bargain?

I will be travelling to Queensland with my husband and two teenage children. Where would you recommend we go to keep all of us entertained?

I used to love going out in Brisbane but haven’t been there in a few years. I’ve heard there are some cool new bars. Can you name some?

Photo © Tourism and Events Queensland


Where can you sail in Queensland?

Tropical North Queensland is a great family destination. I would recommend a few nights in Cairns for great food and shopping. On the Esplanade there’s a Queenslandshaped lagoon that is ideal for swimming, safe for the kids and it is a great place to relax. If you’re not a confident swimmer but still want to do the reef, I recommend the Ocean Spirit Michaelmas Cay tour. Out of Cairns, beautiful Palm Cove has many family friendly resorts, fantastic cafés and lovely walks along the beach. When it comes to things to do in the area, the list is long! The Great Barrier Reef, Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail, and the Kuranda Original Rainforest Markets are all must-dos. There is also a variety of Aboriginal cultural tours – fun and a learning opportunity for everyone. BELINDA GRONO,


Tully River is considered the best rafting river across Australia and New Zealand.

My mates and I will be travelling to Queensland for a boys week, with some adventure thrown in, of course. We want to find some activities that take in nature and adrenalin. Any recommendations? If you’re after a destination that has it all, head to Port Douglas. It’s an easy hour’s drive from Cairns Airport, by coach or hire car. Adventure and nature junkies can spend a day snorkelling and diving the Great Barrier Reef, then go hiking and ‘jungle surfing’ in the Daintree Rainforest. The next day, get up early and take a day trip south to Tully to experience white-water rafting and be back in Port Douglas in time for happy hour. There is a fantastic range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hotels and self-contained apartments to luxury stays and comprehensive resorts. Port Douglas also has an amazing café and bar scene, so you won’t be short of a nice place to eat or drink. If you can plan your travel around events, there are some great ones coming up. Cairns Airport Ironman on 14 June is exciting to watch, and a week later (20‑21 June) is the Australia Classic, a two-day classic car rally.

I would recommend travelling to the Gold Coast. Pacific Fair is an amazing open-plan shopping experience with a large variety of stores to suit everyone’s needs. There’s also Harbour Town, which is known for its factory outlets and is an ideal spot to grab a bargain. There are many other factory outlets located in the Gold Coast area, so the best way to visit as many shops as you can is by getting a Gold Coast Tourist Shuttle Freedom Pass to easily get from your accommodation to stores.



Do you have a travel question you need answering? Tweet it to @FlightCentreAU #FlightCentreTravelClinic on Twitter.

Getting there

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Queensland. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.


Travel ideas


Just an hour’s drive from Brisbane and you’re in the luscious Sunshine Coast Hinterland, taking in spectacular vistas like this one of the Glass House Mountains.

holiday guide

Choose your holiday

looking to relax? seeking a fun-filled adventure? want to walk with the animals, or would you rather eat your heart out?

Are you an animal lover?

Looking for exclusivity? Haggerstone Island, about 600km north of Cairns, caters for a maximum of just eight lucky guests at a time. The secluded Eliza Fraser Lodge on Fraser

At the Bungalow Bay Koala Village on Magnetic Island, you can cuddle a koala and get close to a croc.

Island has views out to the ocean, where sand dunes meet sunsets.

Spot potato cod at Cod Hole in The Ribbon Reefs (Northern Great Barrier Reef) or Flinders Reef near Moreton Island.

There are just five beach cottages at Pumpkin Island Eco Retreat in Yeppoon.

Lake Bindegolly National Park, west of Cunnamulla, is home to 195 species of birds, including swans, pelicans and the threatened freckled duck.

Adventure seeker? Explore the sunny state in a 4WD – drive Condamine Gorge’s 14 river crossings from Boonah to Killarney or, for rugged remoteness, tour

the almost 1500km from Cairns to Cape York. Head into the remote north west of Boodjamulla National Park (formerly Lawn Hill National Park) to see the calcium dams and insect-catching archer fish in north west Queensland.

Are you a foodie?

Hatted restaurant Songbirds at Tamborine Mountain uses organic produce – such as avocado, mandarins and curry plants – from its onsite garden. Market fish as well as Hervey Bay scallops and

a pineapple tarte tatin are highlights at Coast in Hervey Bay. Tukka Restaurant in Brisbane serves bush tucker such as kangaroo, emu, wild mushroom, barramundi and rabbit.

In need of a cultural fix? Experience the heart of Queensland’s historic rail system at The Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich outside of Brisbane – it has a fantastic school holidays program. Visit the Bundaberg & District Historical Museum, which pays homage


to Bundy’s famous aviator Bert Hinkler, who pioneered the first solo flight between England and Australia. Experience Aboriginal culture in the tropical rainforest at Flames of the Forest in Port Douglas.

Words: Christine Retschlag. Illustration: Bea Crespo

The SS Yongala wreck, not far from Alva Beach, just outside of Ayr, is one of the world’s top dive sites.

Summer 2014


Queensland issue  
Queensland issue