Queensland’s borders are open again from 1am on December 13, after an agonising 251-day shutout.
Australia’s favourite tourist destinations are eager to welcome back interstate travellers, and there are also some amazing new things for visitors to see and do.
But first, to visit Queensland you must be fully vaccinated, have recorded a negative COVID-19 test result in the past 72 hours and possess a border pass – and all arrivals must take another COVID-19 test on day five after arriving in Queensland.
To help you plan your next Sunshine State adventure, we have put together 10 things to do in Queensland right now.
1. Let’s start close to the border on the Gold Coast with a visit to one of Queensland’s famous theme parks. To coincide with its 40th birthday, Dreamworld has announced the opening of its new $32 million Steel Taipan roller coaster ride on December 15. Steel Taipan features the Southern Hemisphere’s first triple-launch system and the world’s first spinning rear seats. Sounds scary.
2. How well do you know Brisbane – home of the 2032 Olympics Games? It is a great city to explore on foot, or by CityCat up and down the snaking Brisbane River. Why not sample a local brew at either Green Beacon, Newstead Brewing or the iconic XXXX Brewery? Or say g’day to Powderfinger’s bass player John Collins while watching a gig at his Fortitude Valley venue, The Triffid? If you want something really challenging, then abseil down the Kangaroo Point cliffs. Make sure you stop halfway down to take a picture.
3. There’s luxury, and then there’s Spicers Peak Lodge in the Maryvale – a 130-kilometre drive west from Brisbane. Set on 8000 acres, this exclusive lodge offers arguably the finest all-inclusive experience in Queensland. If you need to detox and re-set your goals for 2022 – and you have deep pockets – then this is the place to visit.
4. The Sunshine Coast has a few crystal-clear reasons to visit – think Australia Zoo, and Noosa with its stunning beach and array of world-class restaurants. But we recommend that you also head to the mountains and explore Montville and Maleny, often referred to as Queensland’s Blue Mountains. It’s here you will see the best views of the epic Sunshine Coast white beaches. For foodies there are some great cooking classes nearby, including the Spirit House Thai Cooking school at Yandina.
5. The weather – and the water – is perfect in Bundaberg from December through to February, with an average high temperature of about 32 degrees. Bundaberg is the start of the Southern Great Barrier Reef and home to manta rays, the world’s largest fish. Divers can also explore the scuttled ex-Navy ship, HMAS Tobruk, which sits 30 metres under the sea just off the coast of Bundaberg.
6. Cairns has taken a turn for the funky. If it wasn’t for the heat, you might think you were in Melbourne as you stroll through art-laden lanes dotted with hipster barbers, vintage record shops, out-there fashion outlets, and gin bars. Who doesn’t love gin? We have no doubt once you try the gin from the Wolf Lane Distillery you will be hooked. Go local and try the Davidson Plum Gin, a tropical take on a traditional sloe gin made using local fermented plums.
7. If you are heading to Port Douglas, then why not take a walk on the wild side of Tropical North Queensland? If you want to try some eco-exploring there are five awesome tracks: Cape Tribulation, Mossman Gorge, Bump Track, Flagstaff Hill and Hartley’s Creek Waterfall. The Cape Tribulation walk takes you through the world’s oldest rainforest, while the seven-kilometre walk to Hartley’s Creek Waterfall will certainly test your stamina and you will have to climb some rocks to reach your destination.
8. Island life awaits in Queensland with a plethora of options for every budget. The wealthy might choose Lizard Island, the northernmost resort of the Great Barrier Reef. Hamilton Island, in the Whitsundays, is the most popular destination because you can fly directly there. Day-trippers from Cairns often cross by boat to Green Island, where you can snorkel with turtles who are attracted to the island’s seagrass beds. Four-wheel drive enthusiasts love Fraser Island, and surfers can’t get enough of the right-hand break at Cylinder Beach on Stradbroke Island.
9. Outback Queensland is home to the Tree of Knowledge – the birthplace of the Labor Party – in Barcaldine, a 12-hour drive from Brisbane. It is an important part of our history as this was the site of the country’s first strike by shearers. Speaking of shearers, while you are out there why not visit Dunraven Station and get a taste of what outback life on the land is really like. And grab a beer at one of the five local pubs, all of which are more than 100 years old. Buy the way, the locals love a chat.
10. Have you heard of the Museum of Underwater Art’s Coral Greenhouse and Ocean Siren? Well, Australia’s first underwater museum has attracted plenty of media attention during lockdown and the artworks on the John Brewer Reef off Townsville celebrated their first birthday earlier this year. Now that the borders are open, this innovative institution is expected to further enhance the region’s reputation for excellence in marine science, education and research about the Great Barrier Reef.