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Whether you’re a serial visitor or you’ve never been to Queensland before, this iconic region always surprises. These little-known treats are our favourite.
1. Gold Coast: Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park
Swap the sound of crashing surf and Gold Coast chatter for tropical birdsong and the cluck of tree frogs. Leave the coast and an hour’s drive later find yourself at Springbrook National Park. The one kilometre subtropical circuit leads from the carpark through leafy rainforest and the honey sweet smell of sun-warmed flora. Emerge onto a shaded cave with a serene waterfall, complete with a fairy tale bridge arching over a pretty lagoon.
2. Brisbane: Laneways
Melbourne, you’ve got competition. It’s taken a few years but Brissie's once dreary cut-throughs are now charismatic laneways. Check out Burnett Lane for the city’s best bites. As a former prison yard, this sassy back alley has always had grunge appeal. If you've got a penchant for a bevvy, Gresham Lane pours a tipple to fill your tumbler, while Spencer Lane offers a touch of New York class and a great cup of Joe. We’ve only scratched the surface; you can go and fall down the rabbit hole.
3. Sunshine Coast: Noosa Everglades
Noosa was made for boutiques and beach life, but Noosa Everglades, a mere eight minutes’ drive from Noose Heasd, is one of the world’s most pristine stretches of wilderness. Lush wetlands and sedate waters lend themselves to a boat cruise. Drift along the Cooloola Coast, stretching 65km from Noosa to Fraser Island, absorbing ancient landscapes and forestry hiding a thousand birds. Commandeer a canoe and gently paddle upstream, passing champagne sand bars and beautiful private jetties.
4. Southern Great Barrier Reef: Mon Repos Conservation Park, Bundaberg
Call yourself a traveller? You’ve got nothing on a loggerhead turtle. From January through to March, tiny footprints pitter patter the sand at Mon Repos beach. Turtle hatchlings which were laid just eight weeks earlier now appear from their sand nests and scramble towards the sea – for a journey that can take them as far as Mexico. Witnessing this rare sight - the annual dash to the ocean’s edge - is one of Queensland’s best wildlife encounters.
5. Outback Queensland: Road trips
From the lone fuel stations that stand like antiques in the desert, to horizons warped by heat lines, Queensland offers the most accessible Outback road trips in Australia. Venture across landscapes once trampled by dinosaurs, swamped in wetland or freckled by bottle trees. These giant beasts swell at the trunk and resemble enormous barrels on the brink of bursting. With numerous routes streaking the map, days are for exploring, while nights call for hearty steaks devoured at friendly Outback taverns.
6. Whitsundays: Whitehaven Beach
Whitehaven Beach. Google it and gawp. Where angel white sand meets liquid teal, the beach is part of the Whitsunday Islands, the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays. Arrive by air or by sea and dig your feet into some of the world’s purest sand. Stretching seven kilometre in total, stay at one end or the other and picnic in paradise, or venture further along the shoreline and find a delicious slice of sand all to yourself.
7. Tropical North Queensland: Paronella Park
An artist and a visionary, José Paronella's dreamt of a tropical estate encased in lush Australian jungle. He dreamt of an elaborate castle, inspired by his Spanish roots, and a natural wonderland dotted with picnic areas and waterfalls; fountains, tennis courts, tunnels and bridges. By 1935 he had completed his dream, and today - 82 years later - guests can visit his nirvana of natural and manmade wonders. The park operates tours throughout the day, as well as an evening tour which is nothing short of spellbinding.
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