Great Barrier Reef
With 1900 individual reefs, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the most impressive natural wonders in the world and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980 (Internet: www.gbrmpa.gov.au ). It stretches 2000 km long and 25-50 km wide along the Queensland coast. About 400 species of coral and 1500 species of fish live in the warm, clear waters, which allow visibility of up to 60 m. This is a true paradise for divers (website: www.dive-queensland.com.au ). See other countries in Oceania on physicscat.
Townsville and Magnetic Island
Townsville is the largest city in north Queensland (website: www.townsvilleonline.com.au ). The town’s biggest attraction is the Reef HQ Aquarium, which also has a sanatorium for sick and injured sea turtles (website: www.reefhq.com.au ). Beautiful beaches, a koala sanctuary and bush walks beckon on the resort island of Magnetic Island, just off Townsville (website: www.magneticislandtourism.com ). It can be reached after a 25-minute ferry ride.
The 35 km long Gold Coast is Australia’s most popular beach area (website: www.visitgoldcoast.com ). Sunshine, white beaches, the best surf for surfing and a wide range of leisure activities make the “Gold Coast” attractive. Off the coast are the natural paradises of Moreton Island, North and South Stradbroke Island with some of Australia’s best and quietest surfing spots and natural sites.
The fastest growing city in Australia offers numerous attractions in addition to a pleasant climate all year round. The best known is the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary on the banks of the Brisbane River. The Botanic Gardens and South Bank Parklands are home to a variety of wildlife. Visitors can learn about the history of the state at the Queensland Museum (website: www.qm.qld.gov.au ). The Queensland Art Gallery features works by European, Australian and Aboriginal artists, and the Gallery of Modern Art is in the same building (website: www.qagoma.qld.gov.au ).
The Sunshine Coast (website: www.tourismsunshinecoast.com.au ) between Caloundra and Rainbow Beach, an hour’s drive north of Brisbane, is quieter than the Gold Coast. The visitor will find miles of beaches, pristine wilderness, lakes and mountains. Whale watching is available in Hervey Bay from July to September.
Cairns is the gateway to unique World Heritage sites. The Atherton Tablelands in the west, the rainforest areas of Cape Tribulation with the Daintree National Park (oldest rainforest in the world) in the north and the Wooroonooran National Park in the south make Cairns a popular travel destination. South of Cairns is the 14 km long Mission Beach, which is offshore from Dunk Island. A trip from Cairns to the Undara lava caves is also worthwhile.
Bunya Mountains National Park
The 192 km² Bunya Mountains National Park northwest of Brisbane offers an interesting flora and fauna. The park is best known for its Bunya pines, some of which are over 600 years old and up to 35 m high. There is a visitor center in Dandabah.
Lamington National Park
Nature lovers are drawn to Australia’s largest nature reserve, Lamington National Park in the McPherson Range. The park with its more than 500 waterfalls is part of the Gondwana rainforests, which have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ornithologists can observe Crimson Parakeets, King Parakeets and Yellow-eared Cockatoos in particular.
The largest sand island in the world is a true natural paradise and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The island is best known for its colorful sand formations and dunes. Mangrove swamps, scrubland and extensive rain and eucalyptus forests form the habitats for a rich flora and fauna. Many species of fish and freshwater turtles live in the island’s numerous freshwater lakes. Thanks to its geographic location, Fraser Island is one of the last refuges of the dingoes. Whales, dolphins and sea turtles can be observed on the coast. The 75-Mile-Beach on the east coast is considered the official highway, and small planes also take off from here for a scenic flight over the island. On the glass-bottom ship MibiAustralian aborigines show visitors the underwater world off the Fraser Coast.
Lovingly restored buildings from the gold rush days stand in Charters Towers. At the end of the 19th century this was the second largest city in the state, today only about 8000 people live in the former gold mining town. Over 200 tons of gold were once mined here and a large vein of gold is still suspected to be underground, but its development is not considered profitable.
Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
A dinner show takes place every evening in Australia’s largest indigenous cultural park, where you can learn all sorts of interesting facts about the culture of the Tjapukai Aborigines (Internet: www.tjapukai.com.au ). In the light of the campfire, among other things, traditional dances, music and stories of the indigenous people are offered. During the day you can learn how to play the didgeridoo or learn about the medicinal effects of “bush tucker” (bush food).
The legendary “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin has set himself a monument with the Australia Zoo in Beerwah, 60 km north of Brisbane (Internet: www.australiazoo.com.au ). Here you can see not only numerous animals native to Australia, such as kangaroos, koalas or wombats, but also Asian elephants, Sumatran tigers and, of course, crocodiles. The zoo features some of the most venomous snakes in the world.
The waters around the Whitsunday Islands are among the best sailing areas in the world. Of the more than 70 islands, only 17 are inhabited. Comfortable vacation resorts can be found on Hamilton Island, Daydream Island, Hayman Island, Hook Island, Lindeman Island, Long Island and South Molle Island. Several bush campgrounds, accessible only by boat, attract adventurous overnighters, advance booking is required (website: www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/whitsunday-islands/camping.html ).
Great Tropical Drive
The Great Tropical Drive self-drive route covers over 1,500 km on a main route and several branch routes through tropical north Queensland. Among other things, the route leads through the Wet Tropics of Queensland, one of the largest rainforest areas on earth, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. Day trips from Cairns or Port Douglas are also possible, as are tours lasting several weeks into the outback (four-wheel drive vehicle required).
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
The 7.5 km cable car runs from the Caravonica Terminal north of Cairns through the tropical rainforest to Kuranda (Internet: www.skyrail.com.au ). The gondolas hover just a few meters above the treetops. At the two intermediate stations Red Peak and Barron Falls, passengers can interrupt their journey to explore.
Queensland offers the most adventure sports in all of Australia. Paragliding and parasailing are offered along the coast. In Lamington and Carnarvon National Parks you can abseil down steep cliffs. The area around the Sunshine Coast and Mount Tamborine is popular for hang gliding and the Tully River is considered one of the best rivers for white water rafting (website: www.cairnsrafting.com.au/tully-river-white-water-rafting ).
Riversleigh Fossil Fields
The Riversleigh Fossil Fields, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are among the most important fossil sites in the world. The remains of animals that lived up to 20 million years ago have been trapped and preserved in the limestone here by particularly calcareous water, some of the finds can be seen at the Riversleigh Fossil Center in Mount Isa (Internet: www.outbackatisa.com.au/Attractions/Riversleigh -Fossil-Centre.aspx ). The Riversleigh Fossil Fields are part of Boodjamulla National Park.
There are several amusement parks along the Gold Coast to visit, including Sea World, Movie World, Dreamworld or WhiteWater World (website: themeparks.com.au ).