Discover what’s new in Queensland
What’s new in Queensland?
Let’s start by saying a lot.
While we might be known for our silica white beaches and laid-back lifestyle, there’s always something new to find here.
Not sure where to look? Explore the world’s first Whale Heritage Site, check into Australia’s first underwater hotel or have an island adventure at new luxury eco-tents, just steps away from the Reef.
Read on to get the scoop, and prepare to book in a little extra annual leave for 2020.
Witness turtle nesting season with the largest loggerhead turtle population in the South Pacific
Turtle nesting season has officially kicked off (and runs November – March), so head to the Southern Great Barrier Reef to be part of the action.
Where can you have the experience of a lifetime? Immerse yourself in the lives of the turtles and turtle researchers at Mon Repos Turtle Centre’s new multi-million dollar eco-tourism facility. There’s a Junior Discovery area for kids, as well as the well-known guided Turtle Encounters on the beach where you can watch baby turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean.
What’s in a name?
For years travellers have flocked to Hervey Bay’s calm waters to catch a glimpse of humpback whales as they journey on the longest mammal migration on earth.
But now it’s official. Hervey Bay has been named the world’s first Whale Heritage Site. It’s now recognised as the best whale watching destination in the world – not just because of sustainable practices and respectful interactions that protect the whales, but due to the support of the whole community through art, festivals and events.
Further south, coastal village Noosa has just been recognised as the tenth World Surfing Reserve. Here, the spectacular breaks worth travelling for rival the decades of best practice coastal management and protection put in place to ensure it remains a treasure for all those who visit. Here’s how to experience surfing’s natural wonder for yourself.
Up in the tropics, The Port Douglas Daintree region has just become the first destination to be awarded Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Destination Certification, thanks to its sustainable practices and high quality nature-based experiences for visitors. There are more than a few things you must try on your visit.
Spend a day on the water
Fraser Island is a beaut spot for fishing – whether you want to see whiting, dart, tailor or jewfish on your plate at the day’s end.
But in a game-changer for those looking to cast a line, it’s now an accessible day trip from Brisbane with Go Fish’s Fraser Island Heli Fishing. A pick up with a difference will drop you off at some of the best fishing spots on the world’s largest sand island. For an extended stay, two night packages are available with heli transfers, private fishing guide, accommodation and all meals included.
To learn a little more about the Reef, dive in and join the Coral Sea Academy. A new initiative of Coral Sea Marina Resort, the academy hosts a series of educational and innovative events that are designed to educate visitors to the Whitsundays about the environment, the Great Barrier Reef, better boating and sustainability. Whether you’re an avid sailor or keen to learn how to do your bit to keep the reef safe, there’s a class for you.
Or a night underwater on the Great Barrier Reef
What lies beneath? Fall asleep and wake up to the kaleidoscope of colours and marine life at Reefsuites: Australia’s first underwater hotel. Moored at Hardy Reef, 40 nautical miles from Airlie Beach, your overnight underwater stay includes all meals and beverages plus a dinner under the stars and an optional private guided snorkelling tour. There’s just two rooms available for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, so be sure to book well in advance.
As the sun goes down on the Great Barrier Reef, a whole new world awakens. And you can now get a front row seat as Cairns Aquarium begins guided night tours. This after-hours experience brings the nocturnal reef to you: come face to face with the Coral Sea’s night time predators before enjoying a three course dinner to end the evening.
Go to new heights in the Outback
Step out onto Australia’s first glass bridge for a unique peek down into Cobbold Gorge.
This outback oasis looks a little different from 19 metres above, as you watch water flow through the red sandstone escarpment directly below.
It’s another notch in the giant belt of nature activities at your fingertips here. When you’ve had your fill of the view (and explored the previously unentered virgin terrain beyond the bridge) it’s time to explore via electric boat cruises, guided interpretive nature walks, stand up paddle boarding and hiking.
Road trip along an electric vehicle highway
Ready for a tropical road trip where you won’t have to stop for fuel?
Buckle up and set out on the new 500km Tropical North Queensland Electric Vehicle Drive. You can power up at six tourist attractions across Cairns, including Mossman Gorge Visitor Centre, Paronella Park and Coffee Works Mareeba.
It’s another step forward for Queensland’s sustainable future – with free vehicle charges for the next 12 months – and builds on the Queensland Electric Superhighway that stretches from the Gold Coast to Cairns.
Sleep soundly – and sustainably
Finding a place to rest your head in Queensland has never looked so green. But there’s a few new favourites to add to your list.
Book into a designer eco-tent on newly opened Wilson Island. A natural coral cay on the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Wilson Island is just 5.24 acres of unrivalled natural beauty. That’s as big as just five football fields. You’ll still have plenty of space though, with a maximum of 18 guests at any time.
Powered only by battery and solar, there’s no WiFi and no worries here. Just you, snorkelling the reef right off the beach, and chowing down locally caught seafood from onsite restaurant The Longhouse.
Just steps from Cairns Esplanade, Bailey is the newest digs from Crystalbrook Collection. Responsible luxury is at their core, so you can dine on cuts straight from their own beef farm and produce sourced from within a three hour drive. It’s in the smaller touches too, with room keys, coat hangers and even the carpets made from recycled materials. While you’re here, discover Cairns’ laneway culture – filled with art, cafes and fashion stores.
Bringing luxury to an untouched atoll amongst the fringing reef, Orpheus Island Lodge is now 100% renewably powered. You’ll find this slice of paradise off the coast of Townsville – accessible only by helicopter (don’t worry, they’ve reduced their diesel consumption by 80%). Part of a wider green initiative, the island boasts its own vegetable garden and orchard, champions sustainably fished seafood and encourages guest to jump in and do their part with marine debris clean ups.
Taste the state
Howard Smith Wharves is Brisbane’s dining hotspot with even hotter river views. If you’re already fond of a pint at Felons or ARC Dining’s award-winning bites, there’s even more reason to return with four new flavour offerings. Tuck into Cantonese at Stanley, Japanese izakaya culture at Yoko and sweet scoops at Goodtimes Gelateria. ARC’s recent pop-up Italian kitchen Ciao Papi has also grown up to become a permanent fixture.
Get a bird’s eye view of the beach from the Sunshine Coast’s first rooftop bar – The Rooftop Bar. Soaring seven stories above Maroochydore’s pumping Ocean Street precinct, the bar is the perfect pairing of an outdoor patio and a greenhouse, serving up cocktails with its own vodka label, Eros.
Take a culinary journey – and a physical one – aboard the tasting train. Mary Valley Rattler’s new food experience will take passengers through one of the country’s richest food regions, with local fare to sample along the way before a long lunch at Amamoor Station.
Dial thrills up to a ten on the Gold Coast
Want to slide into summer with your kids? Do so at WhiteWater World. Newest park attraction, Fully 6, features six different slides so you can chose between a freefall or take the scenic route down. Even better? They’ve implemented sustainability initiatives to reduce power usage and recycle the water that operates the slides.
Next door at Dreamworld, take a multi-sensory voyage around Australia’s iconic landscapes on the Sky Voyager. Strap in for a flying theatre experience with motion seating, wind, light and special effects. It’s the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere.