Queensland is full of exciting areas to explore, where you can have new adventures and make lasting memories. Bask in the sun along the seemingly endless coastline, go trekking through the vast expanse of the outback, and go for a hike through the luscious rainforest that sweeps along the coast.
Dive and snorkel along the biggest coral reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef, and take time out to explore the tropical islands that dot this natural wonder. You won’t be short of things to do in this glorious state.
The climate in Queensland can be split into two categories: tropical in the far north and temperate in the southeast.
Summer (Wet Season): December – February
Far North Queensland sees a lot of rainfall during this period and is known to experience the occasional tropical cyclone. This time of year is hot and humid, with daytime temperatures reaching 30°C. The further down the coast you go, you can expect similar temperatures, with less humidity, and purifying thunderstorms in the late afternoon.
Autumn: March – May
In the southeast, temperatures start to drop and become more comfortable. You can expect daytime temperatures of 26°C, dipping to 16°C overnight. The far north cools down slightly, and the humidity starts to recede, with daytime temperatures reaching 29°C.
Winter: June – August
Surprisingly, this is the best time to visit Queensland. Temperatures are in a comfortable range of 21°C to 26°C during the day, there is low rainfall, and you can look forward to bright blue skies and ample sunshine.
Spring: September – November
Temperatures start to climb, and the humidity picks up again. You can look forward to daily temperatures of between 26°C and 30°C.
The 2,300km of ocean features that stretch from the tip of Cape York down the east coast of the country to Bundaberg make up the most extensive coral reef system in the world, the Great Barrier Reef. With over 900 small islands and coral cays, 3,000 stand-alone reefs, more than 1,500 species of fish and over 200 bird species, it’s not surprising that this is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world and a World Heritage Site. It is an area that is remarkably protected, which has contributed to it being one of Australia’s greatest successes in conservation, as well as being one of the best-managed marine areas on earth.
27°C during summer, rashie or 2mm shorty
25°C during winter, rashie or 2 – 3mm wetsuit
As Queensland experiences a mostly tropical climate, diving is available throughout the year. However, August to December has the best visibility and the least wind and rain. From April to September dive with manta rays and hammerhead sharks that grace the Coral Sea, while June to July marks the arrival of the Minke whales. Coral spawning season prevails between November and December
This area is made up of 20 different dive sites, most of which are only a few minutes away from the island by boat. Labelled 'one of the ten best dives on the planet' by Jacques Costeau, Heron Bommie is a must. It is the island's prize dive site and never fails to disappoint.
Look forward to seeing blacktip reef sharks, turtles, manta rays and the whole company of characters from Finding Nemo. Pelagic species are also known to make regular visits.
Lady Elliot Island
If you're visiting the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot Island is not to be missed. With its resident population of manta rays, over 1,200 species of fish, and visibility well over 20 meters, you are guaranteed to have an incredible dive experience every time you get into the water.
Lady Musgrave Island
Located along the Southern Great Barrier Reef and close enough to Brisbane for a daytrip, Lady Musgrave Island is a pristine paradise just waiting for you to explore.
The Southern Great Barrier Reef is renowned worldwide for scuba diving, and it’s pristine unspoiled beauty. Manta Rays, turtles and migrating Humpback Whales are an icon of this area, as is the fantastic visibility all year round. The Southern Barrier Reef is where scuba divers experience face to face encounters with manta rays, reef sharks, and moray eels. Snorkellers can swim with schools of tropical reef fish, giant rainbow-coloured parrotfish, and in summer months turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. So the waters are alive with Green and Loggerhead turtles over the breeding season.
Avid birdwatchers can enjoy the sight of thousands of seabirds which nest in rookeries on the island and make for some awesome and close up photograph opportunities.
Cod Hole, Ribbon Reefs & Osprey Reef
The string of long narrow reefs numbered from 1 to 10, known as the Ribbon Reefs, lies about 96 kilometres north of Cairns. The Cod Hole is the most well-known dive site on the Ribbon Reefs and is home to a group of very friendly potato cod, reaching up to 100 kilograms. These giant fish approach divers quite closely, and can be hand fed at the site. Coral pinnacles and drop offs attract large pelagic fish and a wide variety of marine life, including Maori wrasse, red bass, emperor, white tip reef sharks, anemones, giant clams and feather stars. Other significant sites include Lighthouse Bommie, Pixie Pinnacle and Steve’s Bommie.
Osprey Reef is an old volcanic atoll lying 220 kilometres off the coast in the Coral Sea. ‘North Horn’ at the tip of Osprey is a world-famous shark feeding site where grey reef sharks, silvertips, and the occasional oceanic congregate. The area is renowned for spectacular 1,000 metre walls, massive soft corals, amazing shark action and exceptional visibility
Located 30km off the coast of Brisbane, Stradbroke Island is ideally situated for a day trip, or a longer break with that tropical island feel. The main diving attraction around the island is the Moreton Marine Park, home to one of the top 10 dive sites in Australia - Manta Bommie. The warmer months of the year attract a vast array of marine life, most notably, large groups of Manta Rays. You can also look forward to encountering Eagle Rays, Stingrays, Shovelnose Rays, Turtles, Pelagic Fish, Wobbegong Sharks, and Leopard Sharks. Cherubs Cave is a macro-photographers dream come true, with an astounding collection of critters that call this dive site home. It also supports a large population of Grey Nurse Sharks, as well as Anemones and Clownfish.
Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA)
The Museum of Underwater Art is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. The 'Coral Greenhouse' is located at John Brewer Reef, 80km from Townsville (2 hours by boat). It is the first-ever underwater building created by underwater sculptor, Jason DeCaires Taylor. Weighing more than 58 tonnes, the 'Coral Greenhouse' is filled with 20 reef guardians propagating coral, spreading the message of reef conservation and coral reef restoration on the Great Barrier Reef. Work benches inside the Greenhouse contain intricate matrices for small fish looking to escape predators, and glass enclaves for octopus and sea urchins to shelter in. Trees, life-like sculptures, and coral gardens make this staggering 72 metre structure a wonderland for divers and snorkellers. Surrounding MOUA is an amazing coral reef bursting with marine life providing the perfect backdrop for the museum, a succinct blend of man-made and nature’s art.
SS Yongala is Australia’s largest, most intact historic shipwreck. The 109 metre Steam Ship sank during a cyclone on 23rd March 1911, with a loss of all 122 people on board and lay undiscovered until 1958. Resting on her starboard side 14 – 28 metres below the surface within the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the Yongala is claimed to be one of the world’s best wreck dives. Renowned for its incredible diversity of corals and abundance of marine life including Queensland Groupers, giant trevally, turtles, sea snakes, shovel-nosed rays and huge schools of fish, diving the Yongala is a bucket list trip no scuba diver should miss!
One of the most spectacular events to occur on the Great Barrier Reef is the annual synchronised spawning of corals. Once a year, coral polyps simultaneously release tiny egg and sperm bundles (spawn) into the water. This mass reproduction occurs after a full moon at night and once the water temperature is above 26ºC for the whole month prior and the seas are calmer. The phenomenon resembles an underwater snowstorm with clouds of white, red, yellow and orange infusing the reef. The time of year that corals spawn depends on their location. Inshore reef spawning usually starts one to six nights after the first full moon in October / November, whereas outer reef spawning commences during November or December.
Snorkelling with Dwarf Minke Whales
A unique opportunity exists on the Great Barrier to experience the thrill of swimming with the smallest of the baleen whale species – the Dwarf Minke Whale. These incredibly inquisitive cetaceans are mostly encountered during June and July on the Ribbon Reefs. The moment when these big, beautiful creatures slowly approach and glide past eye to eye is truly an unforgettable experience. Dedicated Minke Whale Expeditions are run each year by licensed operators out of Cairns and Port Douglas providing maximum opportunity for snorkelling interactions with the minkes whilst ensuring the whales approach on their own terms. Overnight liveaboard expeditions combine these interactions with scuba diving on the Ribbon Reefs.
The Whitsunday Islands make an ideal sailing destination. Live out your dream of being a captain by hiring a yacht and plotting your course, or if you want to kick back and relax, charter a yacht with a full crew to show you the hidden gems of this beautiful area. Sail from Hamilton Island to Airlie Beach and drop anchor alongside the many deserted beaches that dot the coastline.
To get an idea of the sheer size and splendour of the Great Barrier Reef take a once in a lifetime scenic flight. The views are breathtaking. Go for a day trip and take advantage of snorkelling at Mackay or Vlassoff cays, or enjoy a gourmet picnic on Whitehaven Beach. Scenic flights are available from Port Douglas, Cairns and Hamilton Island.
Whether you enjoy a leisurely stroll or prefer a brisk hike, Queensland has a walk for everyone. Take in the views from lovely lookouts, take a dip in a splendid secluded swimming hole, or go on a fantastic overnight camping trip where you will hike along one of Queensland's Great Walks and be bowled over by the breathtaking landscape surrounding you.
Indigenous culture contributes largely to the customs and traditions that define Australia and make it what it is today. Immerse yourself in traditional dance, arts and feasts, or take in the history of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and learn about how they share their knowledge with the younger generation to preserve their unique culture.
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