The Top Ten Queensland Tourist Destinations
The capital of Queensland, Brisbane is a world class city that is located in the busy and beautiful south east corner of the state. A rich heritage and friendly people make a visit here a pleasure, highlights of which will include the museums and the galleries of the Cultural Centre, a swim in the artificial lagoon in Southbank Parklands, a night spent enjoying the cultural festivities of Fortitude Valley, and an evening watching the sunset over the city from the spectacular Mt Cootha Lookout.

Gold Coast
The glitz and the glamour of the Gold Coast are under an hours drive away from Brisbane. Here the infamous skyscrapers of Surfers Paradise converge right onto the beach, creating the ultimate mix of city and surf. The bright lights of the casino and the nightclubs dazzle and entertain, and the shopping precincts and pristine beaches keep the tourist masses amused during the day. The hinterland consists of lush, green rainforest that is a hit amongst bushwalkers or anyone wanting to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet. The Gold Coast is host to the annual Big Day Out music festival in January.

Cairns is the regional capital of Far North Queensland, a backpackers mecca where visitors can indulge in everything from diving the Great Barrier Reef to white water rafting down rivers in the surrounding rainforest. There are accommodation options that cater to everyones needs, and the vibrant buzz of this city in the day or the night is hard to match. Nearby lie the Atherton Tablelands, which can be accessed via the Skyrail, a cableway that takes you above the rainforest. Once there a visit to Kuranda is recommended, as is one to the Barron Falls.

Sunshine Coast
An hour and a half north of Brisbane lies the strip of coastline known as the Sunshine Coast. Its collection of small seaside towns such as Noosa, Mooloolaba and Maroochydore lie next to some of the most stunning beaches in the state, and the hinterland is characterised by thick and lush rainforest. A visit to Steve Irwins Australia Zoo in Beerwah is fun and educational, and a boat ride through the Noosa Everglades is an experience not to be missed. you will always be entertained on the Sunshine Coast!

Airlie Beach
1100 kilometres north of Brisbane is Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands and tourist attraction in its own right. From here charters explore the 74 islands of the Whitsundays, including such hotspots as Whitehaven Beach and Hamilton Island. Airlie has a reputation as a party town, and you are sure to be kept entertained for the length of your stay. Stunning secluded beaches are complemented by lush forest and an abundance of wildlife, and there is accommodation to suite every budget.

Daintree Rainforest
North of Cairns, the Daintree is known to be the oldest living rainforest on the planet. Close to the pristine tourist hideaway of Port Douglas, it is home to natural attractions such as Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation. Enjoy hiring a boat on the Daintree River and doing a bit of fishing, or looking for some of the crocodiles that frequent its waters. Off the coastline here lies the Great Barrier Reef, which means two of the worlds great living organisms lie side by side.

Just a couple of hours south of Airlie Beach, Mackay is a booming regional centre that has plenty to offer visitors. The southern most Whitsunday Islands such as Keswick and Brampton lie offshore, and there are a number of beautiful beaches on the mainland such as Blacks Beach, Eimeo (home to the Eimeo Pub) and Shoal Point. The Eungella National Park also lies nearby and is home to the stunning Finch Hatton Gorge. A visit to the Marina Village in Mackay itself also comes highly recommended.

The tropical city of Townsville is an understated tourist destination that is perfect for a holiday. Just offshore lies the island paradise of Magnetic Island, which rises to a forest-covered peak in the form of Mt Cook. There are many bushwalking trails there, and the island is surrounded by beaches. In town there is a newly refurbished beachside promenade called the 'Strand', along which there are a number of shops and restaurants. Charters run out to the Barrier Reef from Townsville, and in the other direction the outback is just as accessible.

For a taste of the essential Queensland outback a visit to Longreach is the way to go. This friendly, dusty town is over 700 kilometres inland, and is home to such attractions as the Stockmans Hall of Fame, the Qantas Founders Outback Museum and also Starlights Lookout, which lies 64 kilometres out of town. Longreach is the centre of a large wool and beef industry, and in your hire car you can explore some of the large farms in the region. Why not be daring and experience a few nights under the stars?

Known as the 'beef capital' of Australia, Rockhampton is a friendly country town that has the added bonus of being about 40 kilometres from the serene Capricorn Coast. Enjoy the best steak in Australia, and watch the cowboys do their thing at the bull riding rodeos. Rocky is built on the banks of the Fitzroy River, so fishing here is a favourite pastime, especially for the famous barramundi that make very good eating.

Gavin Wyatt