1. The Great Barrier Reef
Another world lurks beneath that glorious turquoise ocean that laps Queensland’s beaches. Stretching for 2,000km, there’s plenty of opportunities to get down there and have a look.
2. Underwater love
Well, you could break the ice on the Manchester Ship Canal to study the mating habits of shopping trolleys, but wouldn’t you rather learn to dive in the warm waters surrounding the world’s largest reef system?
The Daintree, north of Cairns, is the largest stretch of virgin rainforest in Oz. Lush, green and beautiful, a visit will make you feel like Mowgli in the Jungle Book – without the loincloth. Hopefully. Further up, in Cape Tribulation you can walk out of the glorious green onto white powder beaches. Heavenly. Head even further up, to Cape York, for what must be one of Australia’s greatest roadtrips.
4. Port Douglas
When you’ve found out that there’s not much more going on in Cairns than pole dancing and wet T-shirt contests, head a few clicks north to Port Douglas. Cycle around, catch some fish or rent a small boat.
5. Life’s a beach
Queensland is packed with great beaches – they’re everywhere. The most famous being Whitehaven in the Whitsundays, which is so unbelievably picture-perfect you’ll find yourself yearning for a Bounty bar, even if you hate coconuts.
Show some respect for the native dog, which was actually brought over by the first Aboriginals as hunting dogs around 40,000 years ago. That makes them pretty good at hunting. Keep your distance and don’t feed them. You’re most likely to see them on Fraser Island.
7. Sail away
Become a yachtie, if only for a few days. With this much coastline, Queenslanders love a boat. Yachties, by the way, are often very cute, with suntans and good arms. Just a tip, ladies…
You’ll remember these national cakes from Neighbours. Yes, they taste like a bath sponge, but they’re very Aussie and they’re from Qld.
Is the best thing ever – it’s official. It makes you feel invincible, scares the living shit out of you and, in Queensland, offers incredible views in the process. What’s not to like? Take the tandem challenge on Mission Beach.
The AJ Hackett site near Cairns is one of the only places in Oz where you can bungy. It’s also very pretty.
11. Surf’s up
Southern Queensland is, in more ways than one,Surfer’s Paradise. The reef puts a stop to the waves at Bundaberg, but until then, learning to surf is the most fun you can have with (some of) your clothes on.
12. XXXX lager
14. Theme parks
The Gold Coast boasts loads. So if you’re a rollercoaster junkie, you’re in heaven.
The worst haircut that ever raised its tufty spikes still lives large in Qld. The comedy value is priceless.
The Simpson Desert is one of the largest national parks in Australia and looks like something from Star Wars, all rolling sand dunes and salt pans. It’s also the world’s only desert named after an irreverant cartoon family.
18. The Crocodile Hunter
Okay, Steve won’t be there anymore, but there are more idiots that risk their lives by cuddling crocs. Check out the shrine to all things Irwin that is the Sunshine Coast’s Australia Zoo.
19. Feeling fruity
If you’ve never eaten a perfectly ripe, dribble-down-your-chin Bowen mango, you haven’t lived, love.
20. Freewheelin’ Fraser
A perennial fave, nothing quite beats burning up the beach of the world’s largest sand island in a 4WD. The inland lakes are also some of the best swimming spots you’re likely to find in Oz.
Bundaberg Rum. When in the town, order a ‘dark and stormy’ – Bundy rum and ginger beer.
Swimming in croc-free fresh water on a hot day is as close to heaven as most of us are likely to get. The Atherton Tablelands does them best.
23. Soaking up the rays
Queensland is officially Australia’s sunniest state. It’s also where the country’s highest recorded temperature was measured: 53.1ºC at Clonclurry, on January 13, 1889. Toasty.
24. Aboriginal culture
The Laura Festival, held in the small Cape Yorktownship every July, is a unique opportunity to learn about the local Aboriginal culture through dance, song and art.
Pretend to be a farmer for a few days. Ride horses, cuddle cute critters and milk cows. Myella near Rockhampton is a popular spot.
Rockhampton in central Queensland is the beef capital of Australia. Yes, they have one of those. Presumably, the burgers are better in Rocky.
Queensland seems to be the state that invented decadence – every backpacker-friendly town has wild parties every night of the week.
28. Outback boozers
Big wooden buildings with huge, wrap-around verandahs, glasses kept in the fridge and wrinkly men in shorts perched on ricketty bar stools – that’s what we want from an Outback pub. And Queensland has heaps of them.
Ride ‘em cowboy. If you’re passing through an Outback town and there’s a rodeo coming, hang around. There’s violence, alcohol abuse and foul language galore – bloody marvellous.
30. Island hopping
There are too many stunning blobs of land off the Queensland coast to list. But we’ll tell you a few of our favourites: The Whitsundays are famous for their incredible beaches; Hinchinbrookis the wilderness walkers’ paradise; Fitzroy is great for partying; Magnetic is the sunniest;Moreton is sand-tastic.
31. Weird animals
Have you ever seen a dugong? It’s a seal that thinks it’s a cow. You’re most likely to spot one on the way to Hinchinbrook Island.
32. Flying kangaroos
Yep, Australia’s big, famous airline, Qantas, is actually a Queenslander. Queensland And Northern Territory Air Service, no less.
July 25th, 2011