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Known as the "Sunshine State", Queensland enjoys a very agreeable climate with 300 days of sunshine a year. Its natural environment is a major drawcard, particularly with spectacular natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef beckoning. There is a lot more to offer though, including some of the only places in the world where the rainforest meets the ocean. Although many people stick to the beautiful coastline, Queensland actually exists of huge areas of Outback stretching to the interior and all the way up north to the little visited Cape York Peninsula.
Queensland is located in the north-eastern corner of Australia. It's almost entirely located within the tropics and the weather is accordingly. In the northeast there is the Daintree Rainforest and the rest of the coastline is dominated by beautiful beaches, national parks, sugar cane fields and this is where most people live as well, including big cities like Brisbane and Cairns. Inland is the Great Dividing Range and tablelands with fertile flat areas suitable for agriculture. Much of the rest of the state is savanne or desert, with dry conditions but occasional floodings after which dry river beds can become serious rivers for a while.
Queensland has over 160 parks and forests, including several that are also World Heritage sites. Highlights include Fraser Island National Park, the Whitsunday Islands National Park, Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park, Carnarvon Gorge and Expedition National Park.
Read more in the article about National Parks in Queensland.
The Great Barrier Reef is an incredible reef system off the coast of Queensland. Comprised of over 2,900 individual reefs, it is the world's largest coral reef system. One of the most popular activities whilst visiting the reef is snorkelling and scuba diving.
The Whitsunday Islands are the place to go if you're looking for sun-drenched beaches and pristine waters. Situated in the midst of the Great Barrier Reef, the islands are an ideal place to base yourself while enjoying the reef.
The Undara Lava Tubes are regarded as the world's most significant and largest lava tube network. Formed 190,000 years ago the remaining underground tunnels are an explorers delight.
"Beautiful one day, perfect the next" is Queensland's mantra. It's the warm weather destination for many Australians trying to escape the relative cold of the southern states during winter (June to August). Queensland only has two real seasons: hot, and not so hot. The wet season coincides with summer (November to March, though there is usually at least one part of the state suffering from drought in any given year.
High summer (December-February) can be unbearably hot and humid in Queensland, even as far south as Brisbane and the Gold Coast. But this heat is more bearable when spent on the beach, of which there is no shortage in Queensland. Average daytime temperatures are around 30 °C, but it is the humidity that makes it worse. Humidity increases the further north you go along the coast. Temperatures are higher the further inland you go, though the humidity goes down.
Central, North and Far North Queensland are very pleasant places to travel in during winter (June-August) as the weather is generally dry, warm (an average of 25 °C or more generally during the day), and it is still warm enough to swim. South-East Queensland is cooler in winter (around 20 °C on average), though it is still balmy compared to most other winters in the world.
Get current temperatures from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website.
Brisbane International Airport (code: BNE) and Cairns International Airport (code: CNS) are the main gateways to Queensland. There are direct international flights to both places. Brisbane has the most flights with destinations including several cities in New Zealand, Fiji, Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Los Angeles. Cairns has flights to Hong Kong, Auckland and several Pacific islands. There are also good connections to Papua New Guinea from here. A number of local carriers (including low-cost airlines) fly to many destinations within Australia. Check airlines like Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia for more information about routes, schedules and prices.
Gold Coast Airport (OOL), also called Coolangatta Airport and about 20 kilometres from Surfers Paradise, has a growing number of flights. Destinations include Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington with Air New Zealand, Darwin and Mount Isa with Airnorth, Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia X, Adelaide, Auckland, Cairns, Christchurch, Melbourne, Newcastle, Osaka, Tokyo and Sydney with Jetstar Airways, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney with Tiger Airways Australia, Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, Newcastle, Sydney and Townsville with Virgin Australia and Auckland with Pacific Blue.
You can reach Queensland by good tarred roads from the Northern Territory. The crossing is near Camooweal. There are also several roads leading into Queensland from New South Wales, south and southwest from Brisbane.
Outback roads cross the border with the Northern Territory and New South Wales, as well as with South Australia. These roads are much rougher though and in most cases require a 4wd vehicle, for example along the Birdsville track into South Australia, crossing near Birdsville, Queensland.
There are no regular public services, but check out along the coastal harbors if there are any private yachts to join if you like to go north towards Asia.
Check airlines like Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Blue for more information about routes, schedules and prices. Also, the airport websites (see above) have more info on smaller airlines serving outback towns for example.
There are many trains within Queensland that offer a special way of getting around, certainly for enthusiasts. These trains are:
A car gives you maximum freedom and Queensland is a fantastic place to explore by car. Many of the roads are surfaced, including several roads travelling across the outback into New South Wales and the Northern Territory. The dirt roads mostly require a 4wd though, because roads can be rough and some of them require you to cross (hopefully dry) riverbeds. There are plenty of companies you could choose to hire a car from, including Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty. Car hire is often not available to drivers under 25, or if it is, it's more expensive for younger drivers.
Greyhound provides bus services throughout the state, including services to smaller towns in the outback.
Most travellers who will find themselves on a boat are usually undertaking a trip to the Great Barrier Reef or Whitsunday Islands among other places.
Australia's two great culinary treats are at their very best in Queensland - Steak and Seafood.
The hinterland is dotted with cattle ranches, making top quality beef available and cheap. Rockhampton is the self-proclaimed capital of steak.
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