Walk alpacas through the vineyards of the Scenic Rim. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
Walk alpacas through the vineyards of the Scenic Rim. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Best Queensland Destinations Beyond Cairns & the Gold Coast

Queensland is where Australians go when we’re seeking a laid-back holiday filled with surf, sunshine, and sensational natural beauty. The Gold Coast and Cairns are two of the most popular destinations, yet there’s more to discover far beyond their golden shores.

Within a short flight or just a few hours’ drive, you can pass through a myriad of diverse and enchanting destinations, from foodie meccas in the southeast to the UNESCO listed beauty of the Tropical North. And there really is something for every age and interest.

Looking for the best Queensland holiday destinations? Here are five worth travelling for.

Scenic Rim

Though long overlooked, the Scenic Rim is finally getting its moment in the spotlight. Lonely Planet has named it as one of the world’s hottest destinations for 2022, with its lush rainforest and undulating mountain ranges described as a haven of nature, food and adventure.

Some of the scenic highlights include the wineries and national parks of the Gold Coast Hinterland (Canungra, Beechmont and Lamington National Park), and beautiful Kooralbyn – home to winding hiking trails, horse riding and a championship golf course. Shoutout to the adorable Mountview Alpaca Farm!

The Scenic Rim is tailor-made for gourmet picnics. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
The Scenic Rim is tailor-made for gourmet picnics. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

1770 / Agnes Water

Just over 1.5 hours from Gladstone, the beachside towns of Seventeen Seventy and Agnes Water pack a punch in amazing experiences, rocky headlands, and golden beaches that make you want to stake a claim to a patch of sand and not leave it for the entire day.

Whether you’re in the mood for sunset kayaking, want to explore serene national parks, or fancy a day trip off to spectacular Lady Musgrave Island, there’s plenty to see and do.

The charming seaside town of 1770. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
The charming seaside town of 1770. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Whitsundays

Australia’s answer to the jewel-like islands of Thailand, the Whitsundays is overflowing with colourful coral cays, blinding white-sand beaches, and turquoise beaches begging you to dive right in. Whitehaven Beach (best viewed from the lookout at Hook Inlet) is the star attraction, but even on the mainland at Airlie Beach you’re in for a holiday treat.

The Whitsundays is home to 74 beautiful islands. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
The Whitsundays is home to 74 beautiful islands. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Outback Queensland

Sometimes, you just want to head on off into the sunset. When Queenslanders do it, it’s the fiery sands and remote townships of the Outback (and its locals) that greet them. And there’s so much on offer.

From historic towns like Longreach (home of the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Qantas Founders Museum) to the oasis of Carnarvon Gorge, Outback Queensland is a treasure trove of untamed beauty and one-of-a-kind experience.

Sometimes you just have to answer the call of the Outback. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
Sometimes you just have to answer the call of the Outback. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Daintree Rainforest

Home to the world’s oldest surviving rainforest, with examples of plant species that existed millions of years ago, the Daintree Rainforest is a piece of living history. Feel dwarfed by king ferns and giant bull kauri pines, marvel at the sparkling waterfalls of Mossman Gorge, or, for something different, catch a glimpse of the nocturnal wildlife of the Daintree at night.

The UNESCO World Heritage rainforest of the Daintree. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
The UNESCO World Heritage rainforest of the Daintree. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Whatever kind of holiday you seek, Queensland offers it all – and it’s not going to explore itself.

Written by
Chris Ashton

We're Chris Ashton and Simon Ceglinski, two Aussie travellers with a love of exploration and adventure, and the odd bit of luxury thrown in. We seek out street art, street food, and scuba diving wherever we go, and prefer the road less travelled over well-worn tourist paths.

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Written by Chris Ashton