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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Top 10 Holiday Destinations in Queensland by Candice Hoskins

Queensland is regarded as Australia's 'sunshine state' as it receives around 300 days of sunshine a year. With such a fantastic climate and the laidback but friendly attitude of the locals Queensland is a marvellous destination for holiday makers and backpackers alike.

Queensland is a truly amazing state with dazzling beaches, lush rainforests and tranquil blues of the Great Barrier Reef. This state really has something for everyone.

Here is my top ten for Queensland.

1) Brisbane

Brisbane is a chic and cosmopolitan city oozing an amazing vibe. It is the third largest city in Australia and one of the most sought after places to live.

In the heart of the city centre you will find the Queens Street Mall, this is a great place for some retail therapy. You will find all the major Australian shops plus a few quirky stores thrown in for personality. There are also plenty of restaurants and cafes offering all types of food. If you are on a smaller budget head to the Myer Centre in the Mall and theres a food court where you can find all types of food for very reasonable prices.

Just a short walk from the city centre you will find the glorious Southbank. This is a great place to stroll by the river or have a picnic. In the heart of Southbank you will find Streets Beach, an amazing man made beach which is great for a quick dip on a hot sunny day. Don't forget to check out Southbank on the weekend when they have there Arts and Crafts Market. Here you can find some great souvenirs or gifts.

Mt Coot-tha Reserve is situated 7km from the city centre, here you will find spectacular views of Brisbane all the way to Moreton Island. There are plenty of great spots for a picnic but if you preferred to eat out they also have a great café offering a wide selection of hot and cold food. The reserve also has fantastic Botanical Gardens showcasing Eastern and Western agriculture. Situated adjacent to the gardens is the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium which is a great place to take the kids.

If you are more into outdoor adventures head to the Riverlife Adventure Centre which is situated along the Brisbane River in between Southbank and Kangaroo Point. Here you can sign up for an array of water sports, outdoor actives and rock climbing. They cater for beginners and the more experienced adventurer.

No trip to Brisbane is complete without visiting a wildlife sanctuary and the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a great day out for all ages. The sanctuary is situated about 11km south west of Brisbane and most tours will take you by ferry. This is the largest Koala sanctuary in the world and for a small charge you can cuddle up to a Koala while having your picture taken. The park also has a lot of other wildlife to keep you entertained along with a great petting farm. Around the park you will find great eateries and they have a great gift shop where you can purchase some very cute souvenirs.

Brisbane has a great transport system which is very reasonably priced. You can purchase an all day pass on the ferry for around $4.50 and you can visit all the quaint suburbs that surround Brisbane. The railway system is great and it is a very cheap way of visiting all the attractions further away from Brisbane like Australia Zoo or the breath taking Sunshine coast.

2) Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a great little beach town and the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef.

The town itself is very charming and laidback with some great little souvenir shops and some great cafes. The nightlife is good here and you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating.

Just along the sea front you will find a nice beach and a man made lagoon. This is a great place to spend the afternoon sunbathing and swimming. There are many areas to enjoy a nice picnic and sit back and relax.

There are 74 islands in the Whitsunday's with ferries which are easily accessible. Whitehaven Beach is a spectacular sight, the sand is pure white and the water is crystal clear. Make sure to enjoy a few hours soaking up the sun and snorkelling. Hamilton Island is only half an hour away by ferry from Airlie Beach and is a great place to visit. Once there you can explore the island by golf cart and swim in the magnificent swimming pools.

The Great Barrier Reef is about an hour and a half by ferry from Airile Beach and well worth the travel. Once there you can snorkel, dive and ride in a submarine. All equipment is provided for and they cater from the beginner to the more experienced.

3) Frazer Island

Frazer Island is the largest sand island in the world and it has to be the one of the most magnificent. There is so much to do on Frazer Island it is almost unbelievable. You can partake in a 4WD along the golden sandy beaches, walk in the lush rainforests and swim in the tranquil waters of Lake McKenzie. There are barbecues for public use so take full advantage of them. Be careful not to leave food out when you have finished though as the island is home to pure bred white Dingo's. You will need to obtain a permit for vehicles or camping but the prices are reasonable. There is accommodation on Frazer Island but if it's too costly you can stay inland and catch the ferry.

4) Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise is located in the Gold Coast just south of Brisbane. Surfers Paradise is a perfect beach town with plenty to offer for all ages. The beach is picturesque and right on the edge of the town centre. Take a stroll around the fabulous shops and cafes, the nightlife is great but on weekends it can get very busy. A midweek night market operates along the seafront, here you can take a look at hand made souvenirs. The Aboriginal art is profound and very well priced. Some stalls will travel wrap your purchases.

One of the main attractions in this area is Sea World. This really is an amazing day out. They have Dolphin shows, a great Sea Lion show and two incredibly cute Polar Bears. If you get the chance go and watch the Shark feeding, they currently have Tiger and Bull Sharks which are huge! As well as all the marine life they also have a water park with waterslides.

Nearby there is also the Warner Brother's Movie World and Dreamworld. Warner Brother's is a must for any movie fan as there are great photo opportunities with movie characters and they have stunt shows and movie themed rides. Dreamworld is a theme park with some pretty scary rides but the park does cater for younger children as well. Dreamworld is also the home of TV show Australian Big Brother.

5) Cairns

Cairns is situated in Tropical Queensland and is a tourist town. Cairns is well-known around the world and is a backpacker haven.

The centre of Cairns is a quaint place to spend the morning shopping; here you will find some unusual souvenirs. Restaurants and cafes are plentiful. Just a few minutes walk from the centre towards the seafront is a man made salt water swimming lagoon. If you don't fancy a dip talk a walk along the Esplanade and enjoy the stunning views.

If nature is more your thing, why not take a stroll around Flecker Botanic Gardens? The majority of the gardens are made up of magnificent rainforests but you will also find bush tucker plants. The gardens are open Monday to Friday and you will pay a small charge for entry.

Cairns is also a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and is the most popular place for diving in the reef. Around the centre of Cairns you will find plenty of tour operators for day trips to the surrounding islands and the reef.

6) Green Island

Green Island is an amazing island surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef, with a great holiday complex and walking tracks through the rain forest. Here you can lie on the beach, snorkel or go for a relaxing swim in the complex's pool. They also have a bar, cafes and shops on the island. This is a great place for a day trip as you can see it all in one day but if you wanted to stay longer you have the option. Getting here from Cairns couldn't be easier as there are many tour operators and it is not too costly.

7) Noosa

Noosa is a great spirited beach town situated on the Sunshine Coast just north of Brisbane. Noosa is the perfect place to shop, relax or have a great night out on the town.

Hastings Street is the best part of Noosa for shops, cafes and bars. You could spend all day shopping here and pick up some great purchases. They have a wide variety of food and some great bars. On a Friday or Saturday night it can be very busy though. If you want a more relaxing time the beach is only a five minute stroll. The water is clear and the sand is golden. If great views are what you are after head up to the Laguna Lookout in Noosa Junction.

Noosa National Park is a great place for scenic walks, and here you will find great beaches for surfing. The park is about 2km long and once you have reached the end you have also reached the end of the Sunshine Coast.

8) Port Douglas

Port Douglas is a quiet town with tons of character. It has quaint little boutiques and some amazing scenery.

You can catch a shuttle direct from Cairns for around $40. This will give you enough time to explore this great little town. The main street is great for shopping and they lots of great bakeries and cafes. The beach is a fifteen minute walk from the centre but it is well worth a stroll. If exploring is more what you are after head over to the harbour, it is a nice walk and you will not be disappointed when you get there. They have a small shopping centre and some great sea food restaurants where you can dine whilst over looking the harbour.

If you are in Port Douglas on a Sunday don't miss the local market where you can pick up everything from fruits and veggies to hand crafted artefacts. Once you have finished around the market take a stroll around Anzac Park.

9) Mooloolaba

Mooloolaba is a small little town on the Sunshine Coast but it has a lot too offer. The Esplanade is packed with cute little shops and cafes and the marina is picture perfect.

Underwater World is situated in the marina and is a great place for all ages. Here you can see some exotic marine life and if you are brave enough go diving with sharks. To see everything Underwater World has to offer you need to allow about four hours. They also have some great shows and presentations. Once you have finished at Underwater World take a walk around the marina, here you will find some great bars and restaurants. If you are on a budget take a look at the Hogs Breath Café they do some great meals at great prices.

If you are looking for some serious shopping catch the bus to Maroochydore. Here you will find the Sunset Plaza and probably every shop you can think of. You could quite easily spend all day shopping and not have enough time to go in every shop. They have got some great cafes but again if you are on a budget check out the food court for some cheap eats.

10) Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay is a great little place for a few days of relaxation. The beaches are idyllic and the water is clear. This is a great place to go fishing and one of the best places to go Whale and Dolphin watching.

Here you will find a small aquarium called Reef World. Here they show case a lot the marine life in the reef. You can also go Shark diving here as well.

The Whale and Dolphin watching operates between mid July and late October. Most tour operators guarantee sightings or you received a free trip.

About the Author
Candice Hoskins is a travel writer for A Place in the Sun.

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