With ancient tropical forests, the largest coral reef in the world and appealing resorts in every style from action-filled to island solitude, Queensland is the ultimate sun-soaked getaway.

Palm-fringed squeaky-soft beaches stretching to the horizon, Victorian architecture reflected in high-rise glass towers, and a country-sized underwater wonderland: the ‘sunshine state’ of Queensland offers a supremely beguiling blend of world-class natural marvels with a dash of manmade delights. Venture to the tropical north to sail, dive or snorkel the beyond-extraordinary Great Barrier Reef, which throngs with vividly hued marine life, and immerse yourself in a primordial World Heritage rainforest that vibrates with squeaks, caws and croaks. Further down the coast, the Whitsundays provide a scattering of private island resorts for castaway dreamers, along with picture-perfect stretches of shimmering white sand lapped by the sheltered turquoise waters of the Coral Sea.

There are more unspoiled glories on Australia’s Nature Coast, where you can wrap yourself in the pristine wilderness on an island made of sand or watch the pelicans over artisanal coffee in a stylish seaside resort crammed with hip cafés and backed by one of only two everglades on the planet. If you’re craving a little more urban bustle, you’ll find it in the state’s upbeat capital, Brisbane, where skyscrapers soar above sprawling parks, historic gardens and graceful buildings from the city’s earliest days. Or you may be tempted by the razzle-dazzle of the nearby Gold Coast and its sand, surf and theme parks.

There are many ways to experience Queensland, so talk to us and we’ll help create your dream tailor-made itinerary.

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We’ve handpicked the most enticing places to stay in Queensland, from relaxed eco-resorts on the fringes of the rainforest to glossy pads in lively beach locations and city boltholes with more than a dash of style.

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Calypso Outer Barrier Reef

Travel in comfort on board Calypso – a custom-designed motorised catamaran, complete with day bed-style seating and spacious decks, to 3 different Outer Barrier Reef sites that showcase the reef’s colourful marine life just a few metres below the surface. There’ll be the opportunity to listen to interpretive reef talks and enjoy guided snorkel tours. Departs from Port Douglas. Maximum passengers: 75.

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Cape Tribulation & Daintree

Explore Cape Tribulation’s rainforest before crossing the mighty Daintree River. Enjoy morning tea and a tour at the Daintree Discovery Centre. Move on to Cape Tribulation Beach and its boardwalk for lunch in a stunning rainforest setting before re-crossing the river and cruising along its tranquil mangrove-lined waters. Visit the stunning Mossman Gorge before returning to Cairns.

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K’gari (formerly Fraser Island) Luxury Hummer Tour

Depart from Hervey Bay by ferry for this thrilling full-day adventure on World Heritage-listed K’gari (formerly Fraser Island). Explore the island’s unique environment in a 4x4 Hummer and discover highlights including Lake Mackenzie, Eli Creek, the Central Station rainforest, 75 Mile Beach, the stunning coloured sands of The Pinnacles and the iconic Maheno Shipwreck, which was beached during a cyclone in 1935

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Ocean Freedom Barrier Reef Cruise

Thanks to its high speed, this 20-metre catamaran takes just over an hour to reach the Great Barrier Reef. Your first stop will be Upolu Cay – a naturally formed coral cay with protected clear shallow waters. Take a glass-bottom boat ride, swim, snorkel or dive (extra cost). Then cruise on to the Outer Edge Upolu Reef where there’s the chance for guided snorkelling. Departs from Cairns. Maximum passengers: 75.

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Quicksilver Outer Barrier Reef Fly/Cruise

Board Quicksilver’s 45-metre high-speed catamaran on a full-day cruise to Agincourt Reef on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. Explore the reef from a semi-submersible, an underwater observatory or snorkel and dive. In the afternoon, enjoy a scenic 35-minute helicopter flight back to Port Douglas. This cruise is ideal for those keen to do lots of activities and the helicopter option (also possible on the way out) adds a wonderful airborne perspective. Departs from Port Douglas.

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Reef Magic Outer Reef Full Day Cruise

Travel on board this fast stable motor catamaran for 1½ hours to reach Marine World on the Outer Barrier Reef. You’ll spend around 5 hours at this private reef platform, which provides the ideal base for activities including snorkelling, glass bottom boat tours, underwater observatory viewing and relaxing on the spacious sundeck. Other activities – such as scenic helicopter flights and diving – are available at extra cost.
Departs from: Cairns. Maximum passengers: 190.

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Reef Sleep Experience

Reef Sleep is a unique adventure, offering the chance to sleep under the stars on the Great Barrier Reef! By day, Cruise Whitsundays’ ‘Reefworld’ pontoon at Hardy Reef is used by day trippers as a base to explore the marine-rich waters. After 3pm, it’s an exclusive spot for a small number of guests. Enjoy quiet snorkelling time, sip Champagne at sunset,  and watch as the reef comes alive. Then let the waves lull you to sleep in your cosy swag, set up out in the open-air on the top deck of the pontoon.

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Sailaway Sunset Sail

Board your Sailaway vessel at Port Douglas Marina and set off on a sunset sail cruise along the Port Douglas coastline on board the luxury 'Lagoon' catamaran. Enjoy the peace and tranquillity of a tropical sunset over the Coral Sea with spectacular mountain views, and enjoy a complimentary glass of Champagne, wine or beer, alongside a selection of canapés.
Departs from: Port Douglas. Maximum passengers: 40.

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Walkabout Cultural Experience

From Port Douglas, head off on this personalised and engaging small group tour to spend the day with a local Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal guide. Visit a number of culturally significant areas and learn about the amazing relationships that the Kuku Yalanji have with their land. Walk through the rainforest and coastal habitats to learn about the flora and fauna, stop at a freshwater creek to enjoy lunch, try traditional Aboriginal hunting practices and cool off in a freshwater stream.

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Wavedancer Low Isles Sailing Cruise

Quicksilver’s 30-metre luxury sailing catamaran, Wavedancer, offers the excitement of big ship sailing combined with a more sedate and luxurious small group experience. Depart Port Douglas on an hour’s cruise to Low Isles – a jewel in a Great Barrier Reef lagoon with a wide sandy beach and clear, calm waters. Arrive mid-morning and spend your day snorkelling, scuba diving, exploring on guided beach walks or simply relaxing on the beach. Departs from Port Douglas.

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Get to know Queensland and those important practicalities when planning your perfect holiday.


GMT +10 hours; Queensland does not observe daylight saving time so is 9 hours ahead of the UK during British Summer Time


Australian Dollar


Brisbane: approx. 21 hours (not including stopover times)


Majority Christian


Australia has no official language but the majority of people speak English as their first language. Approximately 250 indigenous Australia languages are spoken.

Where is Queensland?
The state of Queensland forms Australia’s north-eastern corner and is bordered, from west to south, by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales. Its 4,333-mile coastline – almost double that if you include all the islands – is washed by the waters of the Pacific Ocean and Coral Sea, while Papua New Guinea is 93 miles across the Torres Strait from its northernmost point. It has four major airports, although most international flights land in Brisbane. Given its size (only 15 actual countries are larger), it covers several climate zones, so take a look at our best time to visit guide to find out when the conditions are perfect for the things you most want to do.

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Despite its high-rise skyline, Brisbane has a laidback atmosphere and feeling of space thanks to its riverside setting and abundant outdoor spaces, including a city beach. More than just the state capital and major transport hub, it’s a delightful place to spend a few days discovering everything from breezy colonial architecture to hip rooftop bars and contemporary art galleries. To the south, Surfers Paradise – technically a suburb – is the glitzy, buzzing focus of the Gold Coast, where people come to shop, eat, play, hang out on the beach and, of course, catch a wave. Charming Cairns, meanwhile, is the tropical north’s main city, a great jumping-off point for visits to the rainforest and Great Barrier Reef, and an excellent place to learn to dive.

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Of the 900 or more islands dotted along Queensland’s epic coastline, UNESCO-listed K’gari (formerly Fraser Island) – which means ‘paradise’, in the local Butchulla language – is the most remarkable. Considered the largest sand island in the world, it’s unusually rich in wildlife. You’ll find everything from dingos to six types of kingfishers, habitats from eucalyptus forests to peat swamps, and abundant marine life such as humpback whales, dugongs and sea turtles. The Whitsundays, meanwhile, have epic beaches and a more away-from-it-all feeling, except on the largest island. Its calm waters, coves and coral reefs make it a magnet for sailors, kayakers and snorkellers, while its exclusive resorts are made for memorable honeymoons.

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East Coast vibes
North of Brisbane, the aptly named 40-mile Sunshine Coast features a string of appealing beach resorts backed by national parks. The best known is Noosa, a thoroughly chic destination that prides itself on its café culture, jazz clubs and fashion scene – though unspoiled nature in the form of bird-filled everglades, serene beaches and more is not far away. Separated from Noosa by the coloured dunes of the Great Sandy National Park, tiny Rainbow Beach is more than just the southern gateway to K’gari (formerly Fraser Island); popular with surfers and sand boarders, it has a relaxed charm to go with its scenic beauties. Hervey Bay is the northern jumping-off point for K’gari (formerly Fraser Island) and a humpback whale-watching spot from July to November.

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Iconic reef
Visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef is not just Queensland’s most breathtaking sight, it’s a global treasure. Stretching for more than 1,400 miles from the tip of Cape York to the end of K’gari (formerly Fraser Island), this extraordinary World Heritage Site consists of around 3,000 individual reefs interspersed with hundreds of idyllic islands and coral cays of various shapes and sizes. Not surprisingly, this is one of the best places to dive and snorkel on the planet. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to swim with the fish, it’s a superb location in which to find out thanks to the sheer diversity of marine life and the top-rated dive schools.

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Rainforest meets reef
The Tropical North is Queensland at its most remote and fascinating, nowhere more so than in the area north of the Daintree River, accessed by a clanking cable ferry that only adds to the sense of adventure. The Great Barrier Reef is just a short hop offshore, but there’s just as much biodiversity in the teeming rainforests of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area that reaches north to Cape Tribulation. Unique creatures lurk in this ancient ecosystem, from Bennett’s tree kangaroos and endangered spotted-tailed quolls to magnificent birds such as the six-foot-tall Southern cassowary. See it through the eyes of a guide from the local Kuku Yalanji people who’ve lived here for 50,000 years.

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Mar - May, Sep - Nov