Discover Queensland: Photos For Your Aussie Wanderlust (updated 2020)

May 1, 2017

Queensland Australia

When people think of adventure in Australia, they imagine trekking through the dry outback in rough conditions. But Australia also has an exotic, tropical side, for adventurers seeking more water-related or rainforest activities.

Tropical North Queensland offers myriad of nature and activities that surpass all others, laying claim to the world’s longest reef, the oldest rainforest in the world, and the world’s oldest civilization.  With over 4500 miles of coastline and beaches in Queensland, there are myriad of road trip opportunities. How can you top that?  FYI, here’s some information on how to get your international driver’s license.

You’ll run out of time before you run out of things to do as you discover Queensland. Here is a pictorial journal of 28 things that should not be missed.


discover queensland

1.  Yikes!

First of all, get used to driving on the “wrong” side of the road…and don’t hit any kangaroos!


Fitzroy Island is “where the rainforest meets the reef,” reachable by a 45-minute ferry from mainland Cairns. The 833-acre private island freely accessible to the public.

2.  Snorkeling

fitzroy island

The crystal clear water at Welcome Bay is perfect for snorkeling and for underwater photography. No sharks, but consider wearing a stinger suit.

3.  Hiking

discover queensland

97% of the island is covered in tropical rainforest and perfect for hiking to the summit for a stunning birds’ eye view of the beach or to the Secret Garden where you can commune with hundreds of butterflies.

4.  Kayaking

fitzroy island

Sea kayaking is a great way to explore remote and hidden beaches and coves along the calm waters in front of the island over to Little Fitzroy Island.

5.  Nudey Beach

nudey beach

fitzroy island

Aha! Fooled you, didn’t I? Once a clothing optional beach, Nudey is no longer a naked beach. Strewn with huge boulders giving it an otherworldly look, it is worth the hilly trek from Welcome Bay.


6.  Night markets

Queensland Australia

The night markets are the best place to find your Australian souvenirs. They have the largest variety and cheapest prices than you’ll find in other venues.

7.  Eat (hop, skip, swim, jump)

places to visit in queensland

Don’t miss this opportunity to sample the tastes of Australia in one dish!  The entre includes kangaroo, crocodile, barramundi, and emu.

8. Swim in the lagoon

cairns esplanade

The large, open-air, man-made saltwater swimming lagoon is located right on the Cairns Esplanade. The lagoon is surrounded by a sandy beach and tropical gardens and looks out to the Great Barrier Reef.


Stretching 1800 miles, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s longest coral reef system.

9. Diving

great barrier reef

The reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world, teeming with some of the best ocean life.  Deep Sea Divers Den leaves out of Cairns and offers eco-friendly diving and snorkeling excursions to several of the Great Barrier reefs.

10. Flying

great barrier reef

A spectacular way to get a grasp of the magnitude of the reef is from the air, on a seaplane or helicopter.  The flight over the Whitsunday Islands and nearby reef system is unsurpassable in beauty and will be seared in your memory.

11. Cruising

places to visit in queensland

There are many opportunities to cruise to the islands around Cairns, or the Whitsundays off Airlie Beach.  The islands are stunning, each with its one charms such as Fitzroy (above) or Whitehaven, one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world.

places to visit in queensland

STAY:  While exploring the Cairns part of Queensland, a great place to stay is at the DoubleTree by Hilton.  The location could not be more convenient.  It’s right on the Esplanade – just walk out the door and you have access to a variety of restaurants, cafes and bars, the lagoon, shops, and the night markets.

Click here to compare prices on more hotels in Cairns.


12. Skyrail

places to visit in queensland

Gliding over the tropical canopy, the gondolas engage all your senses in the pristine ancient rainforest.

13. ATV

rainforest journeys

Grab Perry from Rainforest Journeys, whose family has lived in the rainforest for generations, and explore the wetlands on your own all-terrain vehicle.

14. Wildlife encounter

places to visit in queensland

Don’t be surprised if a curious Australian cassowary comes out of the forest.

15. Stink fruit

places to visit in queensland

If you have the courage, try the durian fruit that grows here. It has been described as “eating custard out of a toilet.”

16. Kuranda

places to visit in queensland

Kuranda is the colorful little village in the rainforest with markets, restaurants, walking paths, a butterfly sanctuary, and wildlife exhibit.

17. Scenic Railway

cairns skyrail

The restored train is one of two scenic modes of transportation to/from Kuranda.  It is recommended that visitors take the rail one way and Skyrail the other way.  The rail goes through mountain vistas and stops for photos at Barron Gorge.


At Tjapukai Cultural Center, visitors can explore the rich history of the world’s oldest living culture, dating back over 40,000 years.

18. Tribal dancing

places to visit in queensland

Aborigine history and culture come alive with traditional music and dance.  Participation encouraged at end of the presentation.

19. Boomerang

places to visit in queensland

Visitors are taught the Aboriginal method of throwing a boomerang, a weapon which was used for hunting.

20. Spear throwing

places to visit in queensland

The center offers a demonstration of ancient spear throwing, followed by hands-on lessons.

21. Didgeridoo

places to visit in queensland

This “natural wooden trumpet” was developed by indigenous Australians of northern Australia and still in widespread use around the world. Visitors can give it a try, although it takes many years of practice to produce authentic sounds.

places to visit in queensland

STAY: After trekking around the rainforest and culture park, stay at the Park Regis Apartments.  The large, self-service penthouse apartments are spacious, ultra-modern, and have panoramic views of Cairns marina.

Click here to compare prices on more hotels in Cairns.


There are so many places to visit Tropical Queensland has much to offer beyond Cairns.  Take a drive north to Trinity Beach and Palm Cove, or head south to Airlie Beach.

22. Trinity Beach

trinity beach

This sweet little beach town is a favorite with both tourists and locals alike for its laid-back atmosphere, sandy beach with shade trees, and waterfront restaurants.

Click here to compare prices on hotels in Trinity Beach.

23. Palm Cove

places to visit in queensland

North of Trinity Beach and more established, Palm Cove is home to its own esplanade with waterfront resorts, restaurants, and shops.

24. Mission Beach

mission beach

Heading south to the Cassowary Coast Region, Mission Beach covers almost nine miles of beach, passing through four beach towns.

25. Cardwell

places to visit in queensland

This friendly beach town is in the heart of the Great Green Way and offers outstanding views of the Coral Sea and the world-famous Hinchinbrook Island, Australia’s largest Island National Park.

26. Airlie Beach

airlie beach

Airlie Beach, hit hard by Cyclone Debbie, is the gateway to the legendary Whitsunday Islands.

Click here to compare prices on hotels in Airlie Beach.

27. Paronella Park

paronella park

Eco accredited, Paronella Park is a lush rainforest and lost village beside Mena Creek Falls with ruins of a castle, picnic area by the falls, bridges, a tunnel.  The park boasts 7,500 tropical plants and trees.

trinity beach

STAY (north):  If you can imagine it, an igloo right on the beach. It’s the most quirky fun place you’ll ever stay!

places to visit in queensland

STAY (south):  The Cardwell Beachfront Motel is approximately halfway between Cairns and Airlie Beach. The hotel sits right on the beach with wonderful views and sunsets.


28. Vegemite?

places to visit in queensland

Of course, you can’t leave without trying this ubiquitous foodstuff. “He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich…” Need I say more?

I hope you have as much fun as we did as you discover Queensland!

Adventures in Queensland first published by HuffPost 


queensland australia

This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer.

About the Author

Patti MorrowPatti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning blog Luggage and Lipstick. TripAdvisor called her one of “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials.”  Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal.

Patti has traveled six continents looking for fabulous places and adventure activities for her Baby Boomer (and Gen X!) tribe. You can follow Patti on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Read more about Patti Morrow.


  1. Comment by Eric || The Bucket List Project

    Eric || The Bucket List Project Reply May 23, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    that looks awesome. How sketchy was Nudey Beach though? Every Nudist beach I have heard of has really old ugly wierdos walking around from what locals tell me.
    sign me up for snorkeling though! that looks awesome

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply May 25, 2017 at 10:34 pm

      It’s no longer a nude beach, as I said in the article. Do try the snorkeling — it’s fun!

  2. Pingback: Australia’s Igloo on the Beach. Cool, Right? | Luggage and Lipstick

  3. Pingback: Three Ways to Experience the Great Barrier Reef

  4. Pingback: The Best Places to Visit in Australia: Australian Travel Goals - Birdgehls

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Go top