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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Cruise to Great Barrier Reef - Snorkeller

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.

• Duration: full day
• Start time: 8.20am
• Daily departures from Port Douglas
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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Cape Tribulation & Daintree Wilderness

Wander through the recreated natural environments of Wildlife Habitat on an immersive guided experience where you will learn about the many species in our region. Then cross the Daintree River for lunch at Mason’s Café and enjoy a dip in the freshwater swimming hole. Explore the world’s oldest rainforest with one of the knowledgeable local guides and visit Cape Tribulation Beach. Stop at Alexandra Lookout before boarding a cruise and search for wildlife including Estuarine Crocodiles.

• Duration: full day
• Start time: 7.15am
• Daily departures from Cairns
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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Quicksilver Outer Barrier Reef Cruise Snorkelling

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. This cruise is ideal for those keen to do lots of activities and for those wanting to add a wonderful airborne perspective, helicopter transfers are also available (at a supplement). Departs from Port Douglas.

• Duration: full day
• Start time: 9am
• Daily departures
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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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.

• Duration: full day
• Daily departures
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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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 a first class sailing catamaran. Enjoy the peace and tranquillity of a tropical sunset over the Coral Sea with spectacular mountain views, and enjoy a complimentary welcome drink alongside a selection of canapés.

• Duration: 1½ hours
• Start time 4.30pm
• Daily departures
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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Whitsunday Islands Cruise to Whitehaven Beach from Hamilton Island or Port of Airlie

Spend a morning cruising the Whitsunday Islands, stopping for a walk on Whitehaven Beach. The morning begins at either Hamilton Island Marina or Port of Airlie, where you’ll board the vessel for a morning Whitsunday Islands and Whitehaven Beach cruise. The boat has ample seating areas inside and out, and as you sail, your skipper will provide an informative commentary on the area's highlights as you cruise to the world-famous Whitehaven Beach. Morning tea is included onboard as you overlook the crystal-clear waters and immaculate white sand along Whitsunday Island, the largest of the 74 islands. You’ll have time to wander along the beach or swim at your own pace before returning to Hamilton Island Marina or Port of Airlie before lunch.

• Duration: 4 hours from Hamilton Island or 6 hours from Port of Airlie
• Departs daily
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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Great Barrier Reef Adventure from Whitsunday Islands or Port of Airlie

Spend a full day exploring the Great Barrier Reef. Board a high-speed catamaran at either Hamilton Island Marina or Port of Airlie and set sail for the Whitsunday Islands and Hardy Reef, where you'll spend over three hours at Reefworld. This pontoon facility makes exploring the reef comfortable, with seating, freshwater showers, and changing rooms. You'll have full use of snorkelling equipment and wetsuits but access to an underwater viewing chamber and semi-submersible rides for coral viewing if you don’t fancy getting into the water. There are also presentations by reef experts. Optional activities like certified and introductory scuba diving and helicopter scenic flights are also available but charged separately. Lunch is served back on board, and the day concludes when you arrive back at either Hamilton Island Marina or Port of Airlie.

• Duration: 8 hours from Hamilton Island or 10 hours from Port of Airlie
• Departs daily
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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Outer Reef Experience from Cairns

Spend a full day diving and snorkelling around the Outer Reef. Embark on an unforgettable adventure as you enter a world teeming with exotic fish life and coral gardens. Whether you decide to snorkel or scuba dive, you'll have the opportunity to see green turtles, manta rays, clownfish, and soft and hard corals up close. After exploring, relax in comfort and style on a luxury catamaran as you cruise back to Cairns.

• Duration: 9 hours
• Start time: 8am
• Departs daily
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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Ngana Kulkinga Dungay, Port Douglas

On a full-day Nagana Kulkinga Dungay tour, you'll be collected from your hotel and taken on an adventure through Kuku Yalanji country. You'll see some culturally significant sights and local attractions, including the World Heritage Daintree Rainforest. A local Aboriginal guide will lead the way, and you'll learn about the relationship the Kuku Yalanji people still have with their land. You'll walk through the world's oldest living rainforest, see natural wonders, and see where the rainforest meets the reef. Plus, you'll explore coastal habitats and learn about the environment, different foods, and medicines that are derived from nature. There’s the chance to sample some bush tucker and take a dip in one of the pristine freshwater streams in the area.

• Duration: 8½ hours
• Start time: 8am
• Monday to Saturday departures
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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Cape Tribulation, Daintree and Mossman Gorge

An action-packed day on board a purpose-built vehicle awaits on this tour of the oldest rainforest on Earth. Your guide on the tour has been specifically selected for their local knowledge and experience and they will be on hand to tell you all you need to know about this UNESCO World Heritage Site and add to your memorable experience. First up is a guided walk through the Daintree National Park’s Mossman Gorge, a scar in the landscape carved out by the Mossman River and hugely important cultural site for the Kuku Yalanji people. Next, you’ll take to the water on a croc-spotting cruise along the Daintree River and have lunch in a stunning rainforest setting. The afternoon includes a visit to Cape Tribulation (or Kulki) and the stunning Myall Beach, the spot at which two natural World Heritage Sites of the rainforest and Great Barrier Reef meet. On the drive back to Cairns, you’ll make a pitstop at the Daintree Ice Cream Company and the Alexandra Lookout for some pretty jaw-dropping and far-reaching views.

• Duration: full day
• Start time: 6.45am
• Daily departures
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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Ngana Julaymba Dungay

From Port Douglas, head off on this personalised and engaging small group tour to spend the day with a local 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 environment, different foods and medicines utilised from nature, sample some bush tucker and try traditional Aboriginal hunting practices. Complete the adventure with time to enjoy lunch and cool off in a freshwater stream.

• Duration: full day
• Start time: 8am
• Departs Monday to Saturday
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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

Capital
TIME DIFFERENCE

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

CURRENCY

Australian Dollar

FLYING TIME TO DESTINATION

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

RELIGION

Majority Christian

LANGUAGE

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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Cities
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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Islands
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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Queensland Weather

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