Queensland is Australia’s second largest state, and safe to say it packs a punch. For the last two years, I travelled around Australia in my van and spent my first six months meandering through this vast state. In those months, I experienced it all (well…almost!). There are so many fun things to do in Queensland, and here I’m going to share some of the best.
I stood beneath the mist of Australia’s single drop waterfall, walked amongst the ancient beauty of neighbouring world heritage sites, summited mountains, soaked in artesian bore baths, sailed around the Whitsundays (it’s cheaper than you think!), and so much more. From all these incredible experiences, I have created this list of my top things to do in Queensland. A lot of these should definitely be added to your Australia bucket list!
Whether you are looking for the best things to do in Queensland, fun things to do in Queensland, things to do in South Queensland, things to do in South East Queensland, things to do on the Gold Coast, or the best places to visit in Queensland – this list has it all!. Let’s dive into the 16 best things to do in Queensland.
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The best things to do in Queensland...
1. Sail around the Whitsundays
The Whitsundays are a collection of 74 tropical islands in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. This island paradise is a dream destination for snorkelling, swimming, and relaxing on the pearly white sandy beaches. It often ranks as one of the best things to do in Australia and is known as Australia’s premier sailing destinations – and for a good reason. Sailing is one of the best ways to experience the diverse beauty of this region. Best of all, sailing these islands also happens to be one of the most fun things to do in Queensland! Nothing quite like the open ocean with the wind in your hair to soothe a restless soul.
While I was there, I found a few other friends, and we were able to rent a boat for around AU$400 per person for four days. It was an absolute dream and a ten-out-of-ten experience. However, if you aren’t able to rent a boat, half-day tours typically start at around AU$200. Whether you join a day tour or hire a yacht with a few friends, this is one of the best things to do in North Queensland and should be on your Australia bucket list.
2. Summit the Glasshouse Mountains
Glasshouse Mountains are located in the hinterland of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, just a short drive inland from the Gold Coast. With 11 peaks to explore, there are plenty of walking tracks winding through waterholes, nature reserves and up steep mountains.
The most popular mountains to climb are Mount Tibrogargan and Mount Beerwah. Beerwah has a nice and easy 200m return walk or a 2.6km summit walk that can take up to four hours to complete. Tibrogargan offers a leisurely 4km circuit that winds its way around the base and a 6km circuit to the summit. On both summit climbs, you will encounter exposed rock faces and steep inclines. Wear sturdy shoes and comfortable clothes. Also, don’t forget water – you will need it!
If you are looking for the best things to do on the Gold Coast, then the Glasshouse Mountains should be on the list!
3. Go whale watching in Hervey Bay
Whale watching is a top Australia bucket list item, and Hervey Bay is the place to do it! Located three hours north of Brisbane, this bay offers the perfect coastal shelter for migrating whales. Between July and November, Hervey Bay transforms into the whale watch capital of the world. Here you can jump on a tour and enjoy an intimate experience with these magical mammals! Whale watching in Hervey Bay is one of the best things to do in Queensland and one of the best places to visit in Australia for nature lovers.
4, Soak in an artesian bore bath
If you are searching for things to do in Australia and the best places to visit in Queensland that get you off the beaten track, make sure you add soaking in an artesian bore bath to the list. Queensland is home to the Great Artesian Basin – a freshwater basin covering roughly one-fifth of the country (making it the largest and deepest in the world!) The best part? This underground water network is confined, pressurised, and heated to form a natural spa. These warm springs are a near-perfect 42°C by the time they reach the surface – the perfect natural bath.
Two of the top places to visit in Queensland to experience these baths include:
Charlotte’s Plains Station
Located just outside Cunnamulla, this sheep station has a designated unpowered camping area, with a ‘bore river’ running through the middle. Along the shoreline, ceramic bathtubs and faucets pumping the water direct from the basin are scattered for guests to use at their leisure. After two years of doing the big lap, this still ranks high on my list of top things to do in Australia and is one of the best things to do in South Queensland.
These bore baths offer a more private bathing experience. The park has a number of dual bathtubs surrounded by a corrugated iron enclosure. You can bring your own nibbles and wine or order a platter from reception.
5. Watch kangaroos on the beach at Cape Hillsborough National Park
There are only a few places in Australia where you can see the magical sight of kangaroos and wallabies roaming the beach. One is Lucky Beach in Western Australia, and the other is located in Cape Hillsborough in Queensland.
If you want to capture these beautiful creatures, get there at first light before the sun has risen. Once the sun is up, the wallabies tend to clear out! This early morning is easily one of the best things to do in North Queensland for photographers and animal lovers.
6. Explore the Daintree & Cape Tribulation
There is only one place in the world where two world heritage sites meet, and it is tucked away in the north of Queensland! Here in Cape Tribulation, you can walk along the beach with the ancient Jurassic-like forest of the Daintree on one side and the Great Barrier Reef on the other. It is pure magic and hands down one of the best places to visit in Queensland.
While you are here, wander along the boardwalks to admire this spectacular rainforest and make a stop to grab an exotic fruit ice cream from Daintree Ice Cream co.
7. Road trip the waterfall circuit
Queensland’s weather is tropical, so it heats up to a balmy 30-35°C in the summer. One of the best things to do in Queensland to take the edge off the summer heat is to find a local waterhole to cool off. What better way than to take a road trip around the Queensland waterfall circuit!
Starting in Cairns, wind your way southeast past Lake Eacham toward Milla Falls. From here, there are plenty of little falls to check out, like Zillie Falls and Millstream, all the way back inland until you reach Innisfail. Swimming in one, picnic on the shore at the next. The waterfall circuit is one of the best things to do in North Queensland in a van over a few days or on a day trip from Cairns!
8. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
ìAlthough I have mentioned the Great Barrier Reef a few times, it deserves a place on the list all by itself! As the world’s largest coral reef system, you can access this huge reef starting in Bundaberg in the south and along the coast, up to the tip of Cape York in the north.
There are so many ways to access it, including diving, snorkelling, sailing, kayaking, fly above it, but no matter how you choose to see it, this should be on your Australia bucket list!
9. Tour Paronella Park
Paronella Park is one of those hidden gems tucked away in the North of Queensland. When I visited, I honestly wasn’t expecting much from this old castle. However, between the history, beautiful structures, and tropical plants surrounding the Mena Creek falls – this little park captured my heart.
When you buy an entry ticket, you get a tour included. These guides show you around the grounds as they share the magical story of Jose and how he turned a budding dream of building a castle into an ongoing legacy. Then you are free to wander the gardens – left to ponder the power of dreams and determination. As an added bonus, there is on-site accommodation included in your ticket price (based on availability). Paronella was definitely an underdog on the list of my top things to do in Queensland.
10. Day trip to Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island, also referred to as ‘maggie’, is an island paradise just a short boat ride from Townsville and one of the best things to do in North Queensland. Grab a barbie inspired car and jet set around the island for a day. Snorkel in the many bays, enjoy a hike and try and spot a koala hiding in the trees. With the largest population of wild koalas in Australia, it is one of the best places to visit in Queensland to spot one of our furry friends.
11. Visit the Gold Coast theme parks
When planning an adventure to explore the very best things to do in Queensland, it would be a crime to not mention the iconic theme parks of the Gold Coast. With the near-perfect weather, you can make the most of these iconic theme parks. From giant slides at WetN’Wild, to a movie-inspired ride at Movie world and riding rollercoasters at Dreamworld – there is something for everyone. Whether you are a thrill seeker or just love a little carnival fare, this is one of the best things to do on the Gold Coast.
12. Relax in Noosa and the Sunshine Coast
Noosa is the epitome of a summery beachside holiday destination. With its balmy warm weather and relaxed vibes, it’s no wonder this is so often ranked as one of the best things to do in southwest Queensland and one of the best places to visit in Australia for a beach holiday. The Fairy Pools are an iconic attraction in this area – but be aware that these get busy! Instead, try grabbing a coffee, wander the streets, grab a 72-hour fermented pizza from El Capitano (the mushroom pizza is divine!), and just soak up the vibe of this laid-back destination.
13. See a platypus in Eungella National Park
If seeing a platypus is on your Australia bucket list, Eungella is one of the best places to visit in Queensland to do it! Eungella is a beautiful mountain-top town around two hours inland of Mackay. After you have braved the steep incline to reach the top, make your way to the viewing decks at Broken River.
Don’t know what you’re looking for? You can spot platypus swimming by watching the small bubbles rising to the surface. Wait a few seconds, and you should see a little bill from beneath the water.
14. See the highest single-drop waterfall in Australia
Imagine standing at the base of a thundering waterfall, the spray of the water slowly soaking your clothes, all the while surrounded by some of the oldest rainforests on earth. Sound like something you want to add to your Australian bucket list? Then don’t miss the chance to visit Wallaman Falls.
These majestic falls can be viewed from a platform above but the real magic is found at the base. However, the walk down is a steep and, at times, slippery descent. Wear comfortable, grippy shoes and pack water and snacks. While it can take up to three hours to navigate these slippery surfaces, it is still one of the best things to do in Queensland!
15. Visit the South Bank Parklands in Brisbane
Even if cities aren’t your thing, I highly recommend a stop in Southbank in Brisbane. This little riverside parkland is home to 17 hectares of lush parklands, lick-your-plate-clean eateries, a community garden, and outdoor swimming pools bordering the Brisbane River.
A visit to this part of the city is one of the top things to do in Queensland for foodies. While you’re here, I recommend grabbing a tradition style Yiros from the Yiros shop. These are the best Yiros in Brisbane. Yiros not your thing? No worries! Walk along the promenade and choose from one of the other eateries – there are loads to choose from. Overall, if you love food, and views and want a taste of what Brisbane has to offer, Southbank is easily one of the best things to do in South East Queensland.
16. Walk along the colourful sands of Rainbow Beach
According to the Kaby Dreaming (the local aboriginal culture), Rainbow Beach got its name from Yiningie – a spirit of the gods who took the form of a rainbow. It is said that he was killed in flight, and when he crashed into the cliffs, his spirit coloured the sands. Whether you bow to gods or mother nature, this is one of the best places to visit in Queensland to see this natural coloured sand art gallery. To see the sands, walk south from the Rainbow Beach township. After a short walk, you will see the spectacular eroded sands of the cliffs swirling from the constant resculpting from the wind and the rain.
17. Visit Fraser Island
Rainbow Beach is also the premier gateway to the heritage-listed Fraser Island. This island is the largest sand island in the world. It is accessible only by boat and 4WD. I recommend renting a 4WD and heading over to Fraser Island for a day or two and exploring the wild beauty this island has to offer. I have heard countless people say it is one of the top things to do in Queensland!
What are your favourite fun things to do in Queensland?
Where are your favourite places to visit in Queensland? Anything you’d add?
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