30 epic things to do in Queensland
As the second largest state in Australia, some of the best things to do are right here in Queensland.
Rent your very own private island. Snorkel with whales on the Great Barrier Reef. Walk with dinosaurs in the outback. Even hire a boat and sail the Whitsundays.
When it comes to iconic Australian experiences, Queensland has them all. And then some.
Keen to tick a few things off your bucket list? These are the 30 best things to do in Queensland.
1. Plan an road trip from Brisbane to Cape Tribulation. The iconic Pacific Highway stretches from Brisbane all the way up the east coast, passing through dozens of quintessential country towns, innumerable golden beaches and is the gateway to not one, but two, World Heritage Sites.
2. Voted the best stretch of sand in the world, squish the pure white silica sand of Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island between your toes. To get an even better vantage point, head up Hill Inlet for views no postcard could ever do justice.
3. No matter who you choose to barrack for, watch a State of Origin game at Suncorp Stadium. Bonus points for tucking into a Four4Twenty pie. Because when in Rome Queensland…
4. Dip a toe in Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island. While the beaches here are (literally) world class, the white silica sand and aquamarine waters of this freshwater lake are, frankly, otherworldly.
5. Taste your way through the Noosa Eat & Drink Festival. This annual showcase of culinary expertise is the jewel in the Sunshine Coast’s crown. Rub shoulders with your favourite celebrity chefs, take cooking classes with the masters, dine under the stars, and indulge in the incredible local produce this region is known for.
6. Visit the Mon Repos Turtle Encounter just outside of Bundaberg between November and March to watch newborn baby turtles make their dash to the ocean under the moonlight. Nature at her most incredible.
7. Get ‘mugged’ by humpback whales in Hervey Bay. Every year between July and October these magnificent creatures cruise up Queensland’s east coast to warmer waters. One of the best things to do in Queensland is to go underwater with them, but staring eye to eye with a humpback out the back of a boat comes a pretty close second.
8. For a truly iconic Queensland encounter, watch the kangaroos on the beach at Cape Hillsborough National Park. Come for the award-winning walking trails and once-in-a-lifetime camping spots; stay a little longer for wallabies and kangaroo sightings on the shoreline.
9. Swim with rare minke whales on a liveaboard off the coast of Port Douglas. Partial to the warm waters of the Coral Sea, these elusive ocean dwellers are only spotted a few weeks per year in mid-winter—the remote location of a liveaboard experience means you’re closer to the ocean action.
10. Uncover ancient dinosaur fossils in the outback. Queensland’s Australian Dinosaur Trail connects the townships of Winton, Richmond and Hughenden, made famous for the region’s concentration of dinosaur fossils. Unearth 98-million-year-old fossils as you walk the path of Earth’s original giants.
11. Stay a while longer in Winton; sit back in the old-fashioned canvas chairs at the Royal Open Air Theatre. One of the only remaining open air cinemas in Australia, watch a classic movie under the stars in the middle of Outback Queensland.
12. Dive alongside graceful manta rays at Lady Elliot Island. The southernmost island on the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot is a haven for some of Australia’s most unique ocean creatures; including the Great 8.
13. Dive the renowned 104-year-old wreck of the S.S. Yongala, off the coast of Townsville. Just off Cape Bowling Green, it is one of the only reef formations in the region, meaning you’re guaranteed to be sharing the waters with eagle rays, turtles and barracudas.
15. Walk the beach where the rainforest meets the reef at Cape Tribulation. The only place in the world where two UNESCO World Heritage Sites collide, get lost exploring the edge of the Daintree—the oldest rainforest in the world—and Great Barrier Reef—the largest reef.
16. Step back in time and walk the path of a volcano at Undara Lava Tubes in Undara Volcanic National Park. An easy day trip from Cairns, walk through these jaw-dropping caves carved out of volcanic lava over 190,000 years ago.
17. Learn about the land and the rich indigenous culture of Australia. Explore Kuku Yalanji country in the Daintree region with local Aboriginal guides and go hunting for mud crabs through the mangroves. After a hard day’s soaking up the history in and around Port Douglas, cook up your catch with Kuku Yalanji brothers, Linc and Brandon Walker.
18. Tour the incredible Spanish-style castle ruins at Paronella Park, just north of Mission Beach, North Queensland. Built in 1935, this unique property is still standing to this day, and is surrounded by verdant gardens and picturesque lakes to drop a picnic rug.
19. Roll out a swag in the Munga-Thirri National Park and encounter a red sunset from the dunes in Birdsville. The red-hued, wind-swept sand dunes of the Simpson Desert are a must-see in Queensland.
20. Go to the Birdsville Races. The two-day annual event is loving dubbed ‘the Melbourne Cup of the outback’; just with more colour, more crowds and more fun than you could ever imagine. Oh, and it’s held in the middle of the desert. Wacky and totally unforgettable, it’s one of the best things to do in Queensland for a reason.
21. Set eyes on the colourful sands of Rainbow Beach. Its Dreamtime legend tells of a rainbow shattering in the sky, changing the colours of the sand. This beautiful stretch of sand dunes is also the stepping-stone to Fraser Island and Cooloola National Park. As if you need another reason to visit.
22. Spot koalas sleeping in the tree tops along the Forts Walk at Magnetic Island. As well as locking eyes on Australia’s iconic marsupial, take in the breathtaking views of Arthur Bay and the Great Barrier Reef. A win-win in our books.
23. Spend a morning stand up paddle boarding at Gold Coast’s Tallebudgera Creek. The gentle currents make this local haunt perfect for all SUP levels, while the clear waters and scenery (you’re surrounded by Burleigh Heads National Park and Palm Beach) bring maximum chilled vibes.
24. Spend an afternoon at Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) in Brisbane. Located in the heart of the city’s cultural precinct, hit up some of the world’s leading exhibitions and immerse yourself in the country’s most impressive collection of modern Indigenous art.
25. For a truly extraordinary experience, tackle the 21-kilometre walk through Carnarvon Gorge where ancient Indigenous art is still visible to this day. For those that crave a challenge, hit the 87-kilometre Carnarvon Great Walk.
26. Charter a yacht to sail the Whitsundays. With 74 islands to discover, this is your chance to have a real-life Robinson Crusoe moment. Don’t waste a second; here’s your ultimate Whitsunday Islands guide.
27. Sleep on the Great Barrier Reef. Sure, you’ll want to dive the GBR, but staying overnight gives you unparalleled access to this underwater world. From liveaboard experiences to exclusive island stays, the reef is your zzz-catching oyster.
28. Trek and camp your way along the entire Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island. Located within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and voted one of the 10 best hiking trails in the world, challenge your true grit with this 32-kilometre hiking trail and be rewarded with some of the most impressive ocean and bush views going.
29. Watch the sunrise atop the Glass House Mountains in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. An easy day trip from Brisbane, this wild National Park houses 11 peaks (the most famous being Mount Tibrogargan, Mount Beerwah and Mount Beerburrum) and dozens of walking tracks. All you have to do is choose the best vantage point.
30. Book a private stay on Pumpkin Island. Nestled amongst the Keppel Islands just 14-kilometres off the coast of Yeppoon, this eco-friendly private island is the stuff of deserted island dreaming. With the Southern Great Barrier Reef quite literally on your doorstep, one night here and you’ll be scheming how to stay forever…