Updated: Feb 26, 2021
We didn't know much about Queensland before arriving there, so had to do a lot of research to find out all the best places to see. We quickly discovered that Queensland has everything from tropical rainforests to pristine beaches so decided we would spend a lot of time exploring it. Little did we know it would end up being 4-5 months. We were lucky enough to spend 2 of those months working on the Gold Coast (so basically living in paradise) and exploring this area in the meantime. We have put together a list of our favourite destinations and our experiences there.
If you haven't heard of the Whitsunday Islands, you have probably seen pictures of them. They are in a league of their own. We took a 3-day cruise to experience everything we could in the area, and it was the best decision we made. We got to visit Whitehaven Beach, snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef and went paddleboarding in Stingray Bay. While we weren't out exploring, we were witnessing sunsets and sunrises, finding marine wildlife and enjoying the views. This is not a place that will let you down. Our only advice would be to do your research on the tour you are looking to go with. There are many out there, and you want to pick the right one for you.
Josephine Falls is a place to let your inner child out. It has cascading waterfalls with pools at the bottom to swim in. Over the years these waterfalls have formed perfect waterslides for all to enjoy. We ended up spending the day here, taking advantage of all it had to offer. It may have taken us a while to get in (it was a bit cold). But once we did, we didn't want to get out. We even managed to find a vine swing. This is definitely a place worth visiting if you're in the area.
Babinda Boulders is somewhere we came across by chance. We were driving through the area and had some time to waste. Jumping straight onto Google and looking up 'places to visit nearby', Babinda Boulders was one of the first to pop up. It had a free campsite in walking distance and looked absolutely amazing, so we decided this is where we would spend the night. When we arrived, we realised we were lucky to find a spot to camp as the campsite is small, but we did so set up camp. It was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shining through the trees, the wildlife was out in spectacular form, and it was so peaceful beyond belief (and yes this was a FREE campsite). We then took a walk down to Babinda Boulders, where we were amazed by how crystal clear the water was. Going for a swim was an absolute must, even though it was a little nippy, and then we finished off the afternoon with a picnic in the sun.
Our trip the Fitzroy Island was by far our most indulgent, while in Queensland. It was one of the most memorable places we visited in Queensland and the one we recommend everyone to experience. It can be done on any kind of budget due to it having a campsite and hotel. We stayed here for 3 nights and made the most of every minute we were here. There is so much to do on Fitzroy Island that you could never get bored. We went snorkelling, hiking, saw the turtle rehabilitation centre and enjoyed the sea trampoline. On top of these things, you can also go paddle boarding and kayaking. The island is on the Great Barrier Reef, so this was a great way to experience it without travelling too far.
This was another one that we weren't prepared for, and if we had known about it in advance, I like to think we would have got to see more of it. Atherton Tablelands is a road trip through tropical rainforests where you get to witness beautiful waterfalls and wildlife. We drove through the Atherton Tablelands to see the Milla Milla Falls and were surprised by how beautiful the drive was. It just felt effortless. Getting to the waterfall was super easy, and the sight we were greeted with was spectacular. Milla Milla Falls is probably one of the most popular places to visit in the Atherton Tablelands. Don't make the same mistake as us though, because there is so much to see while you're here.
Not too far from the Atherton Tablelands (in Australian terms) is Kuranda. It's about 68km north-east, taking you towards the coast. Although it is closer to the coast, it's still far enough inland to have all of the tropical rainforests. We found a great campsite while we were here, giving us the chance to explore it over a couple days. We started by visiting the Kuranda Markets, which had a very Australian vibe to it. We watched a guy demonstrate playing the didjeridu, tried some chilli sauces and found some unique Australian souvenirs. Our favourite of the day had to be the homemade ice cream, it was the best I had ever tasted. When we had finished at the markets, we headed back to the campsite (The Billabong) for the night. We had a fun time here experiencing the wildlife and indulging in a night army truck tour (for a small extra cost).
Again google being our best friend we looked up things to do in the area and found Wallaman Falls. The pictures looked incredible, but once we visited, we realised they didn't do it justice. When we arrived, we stood at the top in the car park looking out from the first viewing platform and witnessed it in all its glory. We then started the 3.2km descent to the bottom of the falls. It was a beautiful walk with so much wildlife around. When we got to the bottom, we managed to go for a swim, although it was freezing, so we didn't spend long in there. If you arrive at the right time of the day, you will get to witness the iconic rainbow Wallaman Falls creates.
When we think of Australia, we always think of Steve Urwin's Australia Zoo so had to visit it. It is absolutely massive and takes the whole day to see everything, but is definitely worth it. We learnt two things while we were here; wearing sensible shoes is a must and take plenty of water. While we were here, we got to witness a crocodile show and see loads of different animals. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and we would recommend doing it if you get the chance.
Magnetic Island is a great day trip if you want to do something different. When we arrived by ferry, we hired some mopeds to get us around. You can either do this or hire an open-top car, both work great. We then went and hired some snorkels and wetsuits and got on with our day. There are several wrecks dotted around the island, making it great for snorkelling. We saw lots of marine life, including some giant clams. In between these snorkelling sessions, we spent some time on the pristine beaches and in some of the pubs. It was a day of pure indulgence.
The Gold Coast
We spent a lot of time on the Gold Coast as this is where we managed to find work. We stayed here for 2 months while working and enjoyed every minute of it. There are lots of suburbs on the Gold Coast, all with different vibes. We worked and stayed in Surfers Paradise as it was more lively here but enjoyed our days off in Main Beach. Main Beach was more relaxing and had some lovely little street cafes that we visited in the morning after watching the sunrise. The Gold Coast has BBQ's dotted all along the coast, so you can just pull up and enjoy a picnic at no cost. The Gold Coast has so much to offer. On the outskirts, there are a number of theme parks including Movie World and Sea World. We also enjoyed a whale watching trip while we were here. One of our favourite places while here was The Spit. It had everything whether you just wanted to take pictures or if you wanted to go for a great surf session.
The Great Barrier Reef
Scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef is a once in a lifetime experience and something we were so glad to tick off our buck lists. We did a lot of research before picking which company to go with and decided Port Douglas was the right place to go from for us. The boats are smaller, meaning fewer people and more time in the water. We visited 3 dive sites throughout the day, and if you weren't diving, you could go snorkelling. Luckily we ended up being one of the first groups to go diving. This meant by the time we got to the third site, we had the opportunity to go out again if we wanted to. We saw so much wildlife, even when we were snorkelling. The scuba instructor was great at showing us parts of the reef that you wouldn't normally notice. Queensland is one of Australia's biggest states and has so much to offer. You can go from tropical rainforest to pristine beaches within hours. For us, it was the most extraordinary place to visit in Australia due to all of the wildlife and diversity. If you don't explore Queensland while you're in Australia, then you are truly missing out.
Nesha is the owner of the Niche Travelling blog.
The Niche Travelling blog is a written by Nesha and her boyfriend Lewis and they aim to take the fear out of travelling for people, a great ambition I am sure you will agree. If you liked this blog about Australia and want to find out some more they have loads of great posts on their blog about the stunning country.
They also have a wonderfully aesthetically pleasing Instagram that you can follow and see all the pictures from their travels. Follow them here Niche Travellling Insta.
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