It’s a beautiful place to holiday here
We can be frank – it’s been a tough start to the year in Australia and across the globe. But as you know, Queenslanders are a resilient bunch and we’re ready for the day we can open our doors and show you why it’s a beautiful place to holiday here. In fact, it’s one of the best places to visit in 2020.
So what should we expect? This year many of us will travel like never before. We want to be more connected with ourselves and loved ones, experience genuine culture and leave a place having learned something new. Give and no take, all while leaving as little a footprint as possible.
From new immersive reef experiences, to connecting with the oldest living culture on earth, and slow travel options that are as good for you as they are the environment – here’s our wrap of the best places to visit in Queensland in 202o once travel is open.
Self-drive the Scenic Rim and Southern Queensland Country
Wineries perched overlooking the water, granite-strewn National Parks, and food worth savouring – all about an hour from Queensland’s capital. This is the holiday you can plan and execute quickly.
The Scenic Rim, headlined by ancient volcanic peaks, and its neighbour, Southern Queensland Country, home to the Granite Belt wine region and the ever-evolving hub of Toowoomba, have burst into the periphery of travellers in recent years.
Homage, Spicers Hidden Vale’s restaurant headed up by Ash Martin, recently moved into the Homestead, rebuilt on the property after fire destroyed the building nearly two years ago. The hyper-local restaurant bases its menu on cooking over flames – and with menu items like beef fat crumpets you’re guaranteed an unforgettable meal.
If you’re looking for a 48-hour escape in region, head over to this article. For a food trail through this salad-bowl head here and to ensure your lungs are full of that clean country air before you depart, here’s our wrap of the best walks in the region.
Torres Strait and Cairns
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been proudly practicing and preserving their cultures by sharing it with the next generation for tens of thousands of years. In 2020, Queensland will focus on the world’s oldest living cultures through the Year of Indigenous Tourism.
Incredible Indigenous experiences are available across the state (be sure to check out this article). However, as destinations go, a visit to Cairns and the Torres Strait will combine both cultures, an array of new experiences, and a destination that is only beginning to appear on travellers’ radars.
Beginning in Cairns, visit the Great Barrier Reef with the recently launched Dreamtime Dive and Snorkel and explore the bommies of Moore, Milln or Flynn Reefs with Indigenous sea rangers.
Back on the mainland, explore the oldest living rainforest and enjoy Australia’s only rainforest dining experience or join Juan Walker on a guided tour of Cooya beach. You’ll forage the beach and mangroves for crabs, fish and other edibles while learning about his family’s connection to the land.
After exploring Cairns, the islands of the Torres Strait are next. Departing Cairns, you can fly to Horn Island before catching a ferry with McDonald Charter Boats to Thursday Island.
Crystal clear waters, pearl farms, island-hopping and lush, tropical greenery await – check out this post for the seven must-do experiences.
Southern Great Barrier Reef
The Southern Great Barrier Reef is home to abundant wildlife and reef only metres from your bed, but in 2020, the offering will become even more immersive with the opening of the Lady Musgrave Experience pontoon.
Based in Lady Musgrave Island‘s lagoon off the coast of Bundaberg and 1770, the 3-story, 36m pontoon will include diving and snorkelling experiences, reef data collection programs and underwater accommodation so you can stay up all night watching the reef spur into action.
The Mon Repos Turtle Centre re-opened in November 2019 after undergoing a $22 million refurbishment. Supporting the largest population of nesting marine loggerhead turtles in the South Pacific, the centre will provide visitors with an insight into both the life of these amazing creatures and the critical work scientists are leading to ensure their protection.
Looking for an island escape instead? Wilson Island, 80 kms off the coast of Gladstone recently launched eco-tent accommodation for a maximum of 18 on-island guests. A Green and Loggerhead turtle nesting site from November to March, Wilson is the definition of reef within reach.
Undoubtedly the biggest trend of 2020 is going to be slow travel, exploring destinations in alternative ways that help reduce your carbon emissions. Leading the genre is train travel, which also happens to be one of the best ways to explore Outback Queensland.
Queensland Rail has multiple routes from Brisbane including the Spirit of the Outback to Longreach, the Westlander to Charleville and the Spirit of Queensland/The Inlander combination taking you to Townsville then Mount Isa.
Following the Year of Outback Tourism in 2019, there has been a boom of new events and products in the region, including the Outback Queensland Masters golf tournament and the opening of the Cobbold Gorge glass bridge.
The Whitsundays isn’t just having a moment, it’s undergoing a complete rebirth. After a transformative 2019 it’s impossible to leave off our 2020 list.
Add to this a $40 million airport upgrade, $6.3 million foreshore revitalisation, the opening of Cruise Whitsundays Reefsuites (the first underwater accommodation on the Great Barrier Reef); Elysian Retreat – the first 100% solar powered resort on the GBR; four pieces of underwater art installed throughout the islands; and the heli-turn-private-boat experience Journey to the Heart launching at the famous Heart Reef.
Yep, 2019 was pretty big.