An introduction to Queensland Australia

Queensland is called the Sunshine State.  It occupies the north east region of Australia, and much of Queensland lies above the Tropic of Capricorn, which means that it is a tropical region.

Queensland is Australia’s second largest State, only Western Australia is bigger.

Most of the state’s population in located in the south east corner, just above its border with New South Wales.  This is where its capital city Brisbane is, and also the location of two of Queensland’s most popular tourist areas, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.

In the vernacular of Australia, where everybody is given a nickname, Queenslanders are known as Banana Benders.  However, the crop that Queenslanders are best know in sugar, for it seems that most of the coast from Surfers Paradise to Mossman in far north Queensland is covered by sugar cane plantations, which gave rise to a pest that was introduced to eat a certain type of beetle, but ended up becoming one of Australia’s most environmentally unfriendly pests – the cane toad.  Fortunately, sugar cane also gave up one of Australia’s most popular beverages, Bundaberg Rum. It doesn’t matter where you go in Australia, you’ll always find people drinking Bundy and Coke – although, my favourite is a Dark and Stormy:  Bundaberg Rum and Ginger Beer (ginger being another great Queensland product). Check out here for my Dark & Stormy recipe.

Tourism is one of the leading industries in Queensland, and that simply means that any type of traveller is well catered for. Moving from south to north, the Gold Coast begins at the New South Wales border and edges up the coast.  It is an area with fantastic beaches and many resorts.  The main tourist centre is called Surfers Paradise and it is filled with amenities and attractions, including some very good theme parks and many great golf resorts.

As you move up the coast you enter Brisbane, which has a bustling CBD and large metropolitan area.  These days Brisbane is a very sophisticated city that has great restaurants and shopping and good entertainment.  Just over an hour north of Brisbane you hit the Sunshine Coast, which also has great beaches, but also a very productive hinterland.  The Sunshine Coast’s best known tourist town is Noosa Heads, which used to be casual and laidback, but is very upmarket these days.  Another well known attraction in the Sunshine Coast hinterland is Australia Zoo, which is where the late Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, was based.

Moving up still, and you get to the Fraser Coast, which is dominated by Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island.  In this area whale watching is popular in season, but there are also many other places nearby, including Hervey Bay, which is so beautiful, many people come to retire here.  Also around here is the town of Bundaberg (try the rum) and Queensland’s Coral Coast, which is where the Great Barrier Reef begins.

Around about here you could move inland, past the town of Rockhampton, further west to the gem fields where much of Queensland’s mineral wealth is found.  Then head at further still, to towns like Longreach, the original home of Qantas, which celebrates the life of our pioneers at the Stockman Hall of Fame.  In this country, many of the Australian traditions were born.  This is Matilda Country, so named because near the town of Winton was where Australia’s greatest poet A.B. `Banjo’ Paterson wrote the unofficial Australian national Anthem, `Waltzing Matilda’, it’s about a sheep rustler, of all things.

When you head back to the coast you hit the Whitsundays, smack bang in Great Barrier Reef country, where island and atolls and coral reefs are home to one of the planets greatest variety of marine life.  The best place to be here is in the water, whether on top of it for snorkelling, or underneath it for scuba diving, the Great Barrier Reef is just like nothing else on Earth, it is another world down there.

Keep following the Reef via the land and you soon enter Cairns, Queensland’s gateway to the north, and a tropical city that just full of character.  From Cairns you can continue your Reef Odyssey, take a cruise to Green Island, or further still to remote Lizard Island, or head inland again, for it is near Cairns that Australia’s Great Dividing Range once again meets the coast or, as they say, where the rainforest meets the reef.

Take a trip by scenic railway or skyway to the Atherton Tablelands for some truly breathtaking views, and then explore the lush rainforests.  Visit the pretty town of Kuranda, swim in crystal clear lakes and shower under plummeting waterfalls.

If you’re courageous, and you love your isolation, venture to historic Cooktown, where Captain Cook repaired the Endeavour, and venture into some really wild country on Cape York Peninsular, where you need a four-wheel drive that has enough clearance to ford the rivers and negotiate fallen trees.

Queensland is an amazing state, just ripe for your next adventure.

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