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Top 5 places to visit in Queensland

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Queensland is widely known as the ‘Sunshine State’ of Australia with its multiplicity of white sandy beaches, theme parks, scenic landmarks, distinguishable cities and cultural events all within close proximity of each other. It is the ultimate ‘vacation meets home’ state where you’re bound to find an activity that interests you: One of the primary reasons why Australians, tourists and immigrants love Queensland. From my multiple visits to Queensland, I present my top 5 Queensland destinations:

1. The Great Barrier Reef

About a month ago, some friends and I caught a flight to Cairns from Sydney to experience the iconic Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef stretching over 2,300 kilometres. Visiting the reef was one of those breathtaking, profound experiences that most people would file as ‘once in a lifetime’ however it made me realise I can visit the reef numerous times and still not be able to see all the unique sea life and vibrant coral that inhabit it.

Not only is there a lot to see and do at the Great Barrier Reef, it is at a relatively convenient location for Queenslanders. Only an hour via boat from Cairns marina, you can visit the reef for the day or spend a few days on board a boat for a complete day and night experience. With some 5000 species of sea and coral life emerging at different times and some only at night, some friends and I booked an overnight stay at a floating boutique hotel to make the most of our trip (full boat stay review here).

Residents of Queensland are fortunate to have the Great Barrier Reef in their backyard as a trip to the Reef doesn’t require excessive travel time or funds.

2. Cairns

Although I primarily visited Cairns to visit the Great Barrier Reef, I discovered Cairns in itself is a beautiful alternative to an island getaway. Upon arrival, I immediately noticed its tropical appeal created by its balmy climate and spread of palm trees across the town. The imagery brought back a nostalgic memory of a relaxing island holiday.

The town and surrounding areas offer a number of activities, resorts and luxury retreats for weekend getaways. I stayed at the centrally located Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort during my visit (accommodation review here). Cairns is also the gateway to Port Douglas, home to the famous 4 Mile Beach, and the World Heritage Listed Daintree Rainforest.

The parks, streets and marina at Cairns are adorned with colourful lights projecting urban character to the town. A generous stretch of restaurants, bars and the renowned night markets at the Esplanade confirms Cairns is a small city with international appeal. Locals and visitors are spoilt for choice with dining options and the cuisine is top notch quality as I observed healthy competition from neighbouring restaurants along the Esplanade drive them to deliver culinary perfection.

Queenslanders can benefit from an island-like vacation in Cairns without having to book a flight.

3. Brisbane

My recent visit to the Queensland was to Brisbane, the capital of the state. Brisbane is rich in cultural diversity and most tourists and visitors refer to it as a ‘home away from home’. Brisbane CBD is a metropolitan area however museums, art galleries and weekend markets scattered across the CBD and South Bank adds a cultural dimension to an otherwise standard city. The Streets Beach at South Bank Parklands is one of my favorite features of Brisbane. It is Australia’s only inner city, man-made beach complete with lagoon and tropical plants. Need I say more?

From my brief 2 night stay in Brisbane, I noticed the city and its people are beautiful in their own simplicity. Despite it being one of the most populous cities of the state, the crowd is never too dense or rowdy to enjoy a stroll across the Brisbane Bridge or brunch at a cafe beside the Brisbane River. When visiting Brisbane city on the weekends, you will find some form of activity whether in the form of street entertainers, arts and crafts markets or yoga classes in the open. Eat street food markets and Ben & Jerry’s Open Air Cinema are just a few of the hot attractions available during summer.

I stayed at Next, a new hotel located in the heart of the CBD (accommodation review here).

4. Surfer’s Paradise, Gold Coast

In 2013 I visited the Gold Coast, only an hour’s drive from Brisbane and a 1.5 hour flight from Sydney. I’ve travelled to Gold Coast on countless occasions and find that every visit is just as exciting as the next. Also perceived as the Las Vegas and Theme Park Capital of Australia due to its discerning nightlife and multiple theme parks, it is one of the most celebrated destinations in Australia.

Surfer’s Paradise as the name suggests is not exclusively about surfing and beaches. The area is renowned to hold entertainment for everyone and is bursting with activities, cafes, restaurants, cultural events, hotels and nightlife.

Some friends and I travelled to Surfer’s Paradise at a time when the weather was not ideal, yet we found a multiplicity of entertainment options in the area. We visited Broadbeach, the shopping and dining mecca of the gold coast. Being a foodie, I quite enjoyed the culinary diversity and creations of award winning chefs found there.

If residing in Brisbane, Surfer’s Paradise is a convenient 1 hour drive on the highway. 

5. Movie World, Gold Coast

Gold Coast is famously known as the theme park capital of Australia with Movie World, Dream World, Sea World and 2 others all located within short driving distances of each other. Whether you’re the adrenalin junkie like myself or simply there to enjoy the shows with your family, you are guaranteed a good day out at any of these internationally recognised theme parks.

Some friends and I visited Movie World on my most recent visit to Gold Coast and as expected it was an entertaining day out. Whilst there were a number of roller coasters to select from, the Superman Escape was a personal favourite. The Green Lantern, a one-of-a-kind roller coaster with the steepest inverted drop in the southern hemisphere was also on the list however it was inoperable at the time. We enjoyed ‘hi fives’ with the Looney Tunes characters during the parade on the main street and even attempted to amuse a very serious batman in his batmobile.

In terms of shows, Hollywood Stunt Driver was a surefire hit and I’m positive others would agree. I was literally at the edge of my seat watching the stunts in sports car performed in extreme precision.

Residing in the eastern states of Australia sure has it’s perks, especially when 6 world renowned theme parks are at your doorstep.

This post was written by Trisha.

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