Why Visit Wet Tropics of Queensland – Best places to see in Australia
This area, which stretches along the north-east coast of Australia for some 450 km, is made up largely of tropical rainforests. This biotope offers a particularly extensive and varied array of plants, as well as marsupials and singing birds, along with other rare and endangered animals and plant species.
Wet Tropics of Queensland – How to get there
There are a number of companies that operate bus services between cities and towns throughout Australia, and there are also interstate trains.
Queensland?s wide open spaces make it ideal for exploration by car. The roads are high quality and well-signed so getting here is easy.
Sydney to Brisbane – 9 hours
Melbourne to Brisbane – 21 hours
Adelaide to Brisbane – 25 hours
Darwin to Brisbane – 25-40 hours
The drive from Melbourne is ideally covered over two days (minimum), and Sydney to Brisbane can be driven in a day.
Most interstate travelers have the choice of flying to Queensland with Qantas, Virgin Australia or Jetstar. Flights to major towns are frequent and regional airports are dispersed throughout the state.
The main international airports are in Brisbane, Cairns and the Gold Coast.
Domestic airports with direct flights from interstate are at Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, the Fraser Coast and the Sunshine Coast.
Other airports in smaller towns in Queensland are served by indirect flights via one of the airports above.
Brisbane Airport is a 15 km or 20 minute drive from the CBD, or about 25 minutes by Airtrain, which also continues on to the Gold Coast.
The AirTrain runs every 30 minutes from 6am to 10pm every day and connects to Central station.
The domestic terminal is separate from the international terminal, but AirTrain provides a 5-minute connection.
There are shuttle buses which provide direct hotel transfers, and plentiful taxis and hirecar providers.
Both terminals provide undercover parking for short and long term periods.
Brisbane Airport provides a handy map of flight routes and general timetables.
Cairns Airport is located 7 kilometers north of the CBD.
Domestically, Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia all operate out of Cairns, with scheduled services to most Australian state capitals, as well as regional locations.
Cairns also handles international flights from Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.
Rental Cars can be located at the domestic terminal in the QantasLink arrival lounge.
Shuttle buses to Cairns and Port Douglas depart hourly.
Taxis are also available 24 hours a day, and the fare to the city centre costs around $16.
Short-term and long-term parking is located next to the passenger terminal.
Gold Coast Airport
Gold Coast Airport is located on the Gold Coast Highway at Bilinga (close to Coolangatta) on the southern end of the Gold Coast, and is only minutes from the beach. Part of the runway actually extends into New South Wales.
The airport 30 minutes? drive from Surfers Paradise and an hour from Byron Bay. The drive to Brisbane can take an hour and fifteen minutes.
Jetstar, Qantas, Tiger Airways and Virgin Australia all have frequent domestic flights from Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.
Internationally, AirAsia X, Air New Zealand and Freedom Air fly in from New Zealand and Malaysia.
Surfside Bus Lines and Gold Coast Tourist Shuttles offer convenient transfers to hotels and theme parks. The free Airport Link shuttle takes you straight to the Gold Coast Highway, where public transport is readily available.
Car rental companies can be located opposite the check-in counters at the airport.
Taxis are available immediately outside the terminal.
Interstate Travel Times
Sydney to Brisbane – 1 hour
Melbourne to Brisbane – 2 hours
Adelaide to Brisbane – 2.5 hours
Darwin to Brisbane – 4 hours
Perth to Brisbane – 6.5 hours
Wet Tropics of Queensland – How to Visit
Air travel in Queensland is easy to organize and commute. With international airports in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and the Gold Coast, plus many regional and island airports, air travel is an efficient and reliable way to get around. Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar and a number of smaller regional carriers.
Queensland is a very large state, and to get around you can hire a rental vehicle from any airport or downtown location from the major rental agencies, such as:
Traveltrain Holidays offers Australia’s largest and most comprehensive network of long-distance trains, carrying more than half a million passengers each year. Its premium service, Queenslander Class on The Sunlander, was recently named one of the ‘World’s Top 25 Trains’ and ‘Australia’s Best Rail Journey’ by the Society of International Railway Travellers. The dedicated tourism arm of QR Limited (formerly Queensland Rail), Traveltrain Holidays offers a fleet of long-distance passenger trains connecting Brisbane to a host of holiday destinations throughout Queensland including Cairns, Townsville, the Whitsundays, Charleville and Longreach. Each of Queensland Rail’s coastal, outback and tropical north services offer a unique travel experience.
Traveltrain Holidays packages its rail experiences with accommodation, fully-guided tours, cruises, flights and car hire. It operates travel centres throughout Queensland as well as a call centre.
Some of the services offered by Queensland Rail[:
The Inlander – Townsville to Mount Isa. A 977 km trip, enjoyed in air-conditioned comfort, traveling through Charters Towers across the Great Dividing Range and through Hughenden and Julia Creek before delivering passengers at the mining centre of Mount Isa.
The Westlander – Brisbane to Charleville. A scenic journey from Brisbane traveling across the Great Dividing Range and through the rich farmlands of South East Queensland Country before arriving in Charleville, the largest town in the south-west Outback.
The Sunlander – Brisbane to Cairns. One of Australia?s great journeys and a firm favourite with travellers venturing into the Tropical North. With its two styles of travel, ‘The Sunlander’ caters for all travellers, from the discerning to the budget conscious:
Queenslander Class – this luxurious train includes superb dining, first-class accommodation and exceptional service
Tilt Train – the fastest narrow guage trains in the world, the Tilt Trains provide an efficient, comfortable and modern standard of travel.
Most of these services depart from Brisbane?s centrally located Transit Centre/Roma Street station.
By public transport
Getting around couldn?t be easier with Queensland?s extensive public transport network.
Most of South East Queensland is serviced by buses, trains and ferries on the TransLink network, which stretches from the southernmost part of the Gold Coast to the northern tips of the Sunshine Coast.
Visit TransLink’s website for timetable information, maps and a helpful Journey Planner to get a wide range of transport options. One TransLink ticket will take you wherever you need to go within the network.
In most regional centres, the qconnect initiative connects public transport services; including buses, accessible taxis and community and subsidised transport. The site maintains a detailed list of Urban Bus Services to be found in most regional areas.
What to see in Wet Tropics of Queensland
- Great Barrier Reef – One of the seven wonders of the natural world, this magical underwater labyrinth will treat you to spectacular displays of nature found no where else in the world. Stretching from Tropical North Queensland in the north to Capricornia in the south, the rare, ancient beauty of the reef can be enjoyed from many different points of view. On the Whitsundays you can dive amongst the coral on a scuba-diving adventure, or watch the reef come on a purpose-built pontoon. From Townsville you can wonder at its beauty from the comfort of a glass-bottomed boat or view from helicopter joy-flight. On the Southern Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Mackay and Central Queensland you can go snorkelling in a sheltered coral cay, or keep your clothes dry on a leisurely reef walk.
- Mossman Gorge – A very accessible and scenic section of the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park. Strangler figs and epiphytic plants flourish and the crystal-clear Mossman River cascades over granite boulders. The area is also home to colourful Boyd’s forest dragons. Stroll along the 400 metre walking track to viewing platforms over the Mossman River. Look for the brilliant blue Ulysses butterfly and birds such as the eastern yellow robin. Take the two kilometre loop track through lush, green rainforest to learn about the plants and find out how the local Kuku Yalanji people use them in traditional ways.
Migrating Whales – The coast of Queensland provides visitors first-hand experience to view migrating whales during the winder months. There is various vantage points right downs the coast, but to really get the most for your whale watching experience, jump on board a whale watching tour with one of the many companies. The protective waters of Hervey Bay is the most popular destination to view these gentle giants of the sea. Viewing is generally only throughout July to November.
- Nesting Sea Turtles – Many varieties of turtles such as the loggerhead, green, leatherback and flatback nest from October to March each year along the Queensland coast from Bundaberg in the south to the Cape in the tropical north as well on the islands of the Southern Great Barrier Reef (Heron, Wilson, Lady Elliot, Lady Musgrave). The Turtle Nesting and Hatching season is an amazing experience and visitors to Queensland will find opportunities to witness these nocturnal events in a controlled environment at a number of island and mainland locations. Near Bundaberg, Mon Repos supports the largest concentration of nesting sea turtles on the east Australian mainland. Viewing is generally only from November to March. You can help conserve turtles by participating in a six-day camp, working alongside the Mapoon Aboriginal owners and researchers as they measure and tag nesting Flat Back and Olive Ridley turtles, fit feral pig exclusion devices to the nesting sites and remove nets from the beach. Viewing is generally only from June to September at Mapoon, Western Cape York.
- The Magnificent Moreton Bay – the mouth of the Brisbane river, and home to a collection of islands where boating, fishing, sailing, camping, holidays and day-trips make Brisbane such a brilliant out-door adventure city. Take a guided tour around beautiful St Helena Island, a former jail from when Brisbane was a penal colony. Spend the weekend at Stradbroke Island and surf on magnificent beaches or take the kids to Coochie Mudlo Island for a quiet day out on flat water beaches.
RiverFire – the last night of the annual River Festival – a night when Brisbane comes out to watch an incredible fireworks display choreographed with precision to spray from the tops of buildings, from the cities bridges and barges stretched all along the river from Southbank to the Story Bridge. The fireworks are kicked off and ended with the dump and burn by the RAAF’s F-111 fighters.
- Wallaman Falls National Park is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, boasting the highest, permanent, single-drop waterfall in Australia. Open forest dominates the ridge tops. Rainforest lines the gullies and creeks. The area is home to endangered cassowaries and musky rat-kangaroos. Stroll 800 metres along the banks of Stony Creek on the Banggurru walk, and learn about the rainforest. Look for platypus in the creek below the falls. To enjoy a closer look at the falls, take the 3.2 kilometre Jinda walk into the gorge. Experienced bushwalkers can choose from one of three overnight hikes that are part of the Wet Tropics Great Walk.
- Tamborine Mountain Glow Worm Caves are located at Cedar Creek Estate. The caves consist of two large chambers interlinked by tunnels. The first chamber is the “presentation cave”, where you will be shown an audiovisual display on glow-worms and the construction of the caves. This chamber is complete with very realistic formations (speleothems), such as stalagmites and stalactites, water features and flow stone.
- Undara Lava Tubes – only three and a half hours from Cairns in Tropical North Queensland’s Gulf Savannah lies a land so different in contrasts – and the Undara Experience. Undara is a pristine wilderness possessing one of the longest and best preserved lava tubes of its kind anywhere in the world.
- SS Yongala Wreck – lies within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, only 12 nautical miles from Yongala Dive’s base at Alva Beach in Queensland. It sank in 1911 with the loss of all aboard, creating one of Australia’s most intriguing maritime mysteries as she lay undiscovered for more than half a century. Lying in 14 to 28 metres of water and over 100 metres long it is one of the largest and most intact historic shipwrecks in Australia and provides an exciting adventure for divers due to its coral encrusted structure, the depth and the incredible array of marine life.
- Atherton Tablelands – the ‘capital’ of the lovely Tropical Tablelands, a land of beautiful lakes, waterfalls, rich red soil and tropical rainforest. Here the temperature is cooler, the pace is slower and there is a feeling of relaxation in the air. The rich Tableland area is famous for producing peanuts, maize and potatoes. The area also has a number of natural attractions such as the Curtain Fig Tree, Millaa Millaa Falls, crater lakes and amazing rock formations. Atherton is ideally situated as a base to explore most places of interest in the Tablelands area.
- Australian Age of Dinosaurs – home to the world’s largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils. A working dinosaur museum and research laboratory, they are located on 14,000 hectares of spectacular mesa plateau with vast scenery, wildlife and walking trails. At the museum you’ll see and hear about their exciting dinosaurs, including gigantic sauropods and “”Banjo””, Australia’s greatest carnivorous dinosaur.
- Underwater Observatories – There is no need to get your feet wet. Observe all the wonders of Queensland’s marine life from behind the glass of an observatory. Queensland is host to a number of underwater observatories including; Reef HQ – the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium and national reef education centre for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. UnderWater World – a multi-award winning, all weather, tourist attraction located in the heart of the Sunshine Coast.
Glass House Mountains National Park was named by Captain Cook as he mapped the Queensland coast in 1770. The ‘Glass Houses’ are distinctive volcanic plugs which rise abruptly out of a patchwork of farms and forests. The Glass House Mountains are spiritually significant to the local Aboriginal people. The park is made up of several sections that include most of the peaks and forest areas. Drive to the Glass House Mountains lookout for a great view of the multiple peaks. Within the park’s sections there are eight walking tracks ranging from 25 minutes to three hours, and catering to all levels of experience. Fit walkers with rockclimbing skills can reach the summits of Mounts Tibrogargan, Ngungun or Beerwah. Suitably equipped experienced rock climbers can climb and abseil Mount Ngungun.
- See Whitehaven Beach from the air – many commercial airline companies exist that provide flight services over Whitehaven Beach. Enjoy a helicopter flight over Islands and waterways then quality time on a secluded beach in the Whitsunday’s and treat yourself with a gourmet picnic hamper and ice-cold champagne. Flight types vary but can include scenic flights to and from the Reef as well as a stop over on Whitehaven Beach, Langford Reef area and a scenic flight over Hook, Hardy’s and the famous Heart Reef, then continue near Langford Reef where you can swim and view the breathtaking coral gardens at your leisure with a gourmet champagne picnic hamper.
- Aboriginal Rock Art – the Art Gallery in the Carnarvon Gorge National Park contains some of the finest Aboriginal rock art in Australia. Just 5.6 kilometres from the trailhead, at the junction of Kamoloo Creek, a signposted access track leaves the main walking trail upstream of crossing number 10, providing a gentle climb to the escarpment base where the site is located. Boardwalks, interpretive signs and seating facilities provide optimum conditions for visitors to appreciate this diverse range of Aboriginal artwork without endangering it. This extensive gallery contains more than 600 stencils and 1300 engravings. Aboriginal rock art on the sandstone overhangs is a fragile reminder of the Aboriginal people who used the gorge for thousands of years for ceremonies and rituals.
- Q1 Observation Deck – Australia’s only beachside observation deck, located in Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. QDeck takes you to the highest point above the city, providing stunning 360 degree views from the surf to the hinterland and beyond. Rising 235 metres into the sky, QDeck is located on level 77 of the iconic Q1 tower. Your journey begins with an inside look at the construction of this landmark development before boarding one of the world’s fastest express lifts which transports you from ground to level 77 in less than 43 seconds. Once at the top, you will see spectacular views which reach on a clear day from Brisbane to Byron Bay.
What and where to eat in Wet Tropics of Queensland
Much of Queensland’s income is still derived from agriculture, with different regions specializing in different produce. Famous examples include sugercane in the Whitsundays; peanuts for Kingaroy; mangoes for Bowen. Fresh local fish can also be found right along the coast, usually sold in “Fish & Chips” shops. Brisbane and surrounding areas like the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are becoming very well known for quality restaurants, cafes and take-aways. Whether it’s 5 star or fast food you are after there is no need to eat poor quality food in Queensland. With so much fresh food available, seek out boutique and independent operations with a focus on quality and freshness. You won’t usually pay more than its worth. Demand for organic food is also growing, as is awareness of variations in peoples dietry preferences, so gluten and dairy intolerant or vegetarian/vegan eaters will often find that choices are available in most places, or can be prepared in the kitchens on request. Pub food in QLD is no longer just the sad old counter meal variety, if you find a fairly modern pub you’ll find a fairly modern kitchen and while you can often still get lunch for $10, generally the low price won’t be reflected in the quality. Breakfast is big in Brisbane and markets are particularly good places to go for a local brekkie. Alternatively, you’ll find free and clean public BBQ’s in lots of the public parks, so bring your own picnic along and enjoy QLD’s gorgeous weather while you cook up your own true Aussie BBQ. To be fair to the other patrons, give the BBQ plate a wipe down after you’ve finished with some clean newspaper, and place your rubbish in bins provided.
How fresh can it get? Straight from the farmer to you is the latest trend and foodies throughout Queensland are loving the range and quality of local seasonal produce. It pays to get up early with the sun, pack plenty of extra bags and don’t forget a cold pack in case some divine seafood or meat takes your fancy. Stroll around the stalls and chat to the farmers, once you get past the weather you’ll discover a wealth of information about how to select, store and cook your purchases.
Brisbane – Head to The Powerhouse at New Farm in Brisbane by at least 7am on a Saturday morning and you’ll discover locals armed with trolley bags snapping up high quality produce and seasonal bargains on a regular basis. On the last Sunday of each month the stallholders move to suburban Mitchelton. If organic is your style the Green Flea Community Markets at Davies Park in West End or the Northey Street Organic Market at Windsor will keep you busy.
Gold Coast – Foodies are well catered for with the farmers markets at Banora Point, Bundall, The Spit, Miami, Mudgeeraba and Tamborine offering fresh produce.
South East Queensland Country – Enjoy fresh food right where it is grown on the Southern Downs at the Glengallan Seasonal Farmers Markets, 15km north of Warwick on the first Sunday of each season. Don’t forget to look for fresh seasonal produce across the region on road side stalls.
Sunshine Coast – The Noosa Farmers Market on Weyba Road at Noosaville showcases some of the Sunshine Coast’s best produce every Sunday from 7am to midday. All products are grown, reared, caught, baked or prepared by the stall holder. You’ll find farm fresh fruit and vegetables, breads, cheeses, preserves, seafood, red claw, poultry, beef, lamb, coffee and the chance to swap ideas with local producers. The Eumundi Markets are another food lover’s delight with everything from fresh produce to taste sensations you’ll find hard to resist.
Central Queensland – Keep your eyes open for roadside stalls just off the farm. This area is the fruit bowl of the Coral Coast and supplies chillies, tomatoes and the sweetest of peas to southern states.
Mackay – Head for the local showgrounds located in the centre of town for the Mackay Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning from 6am at the Showgrounds. This is the best spot to gather all local fresh produce and freshly cut flowers.
Tropical North Queensland – Rusty’s Markets in Cairns are an experience that should not be missed by market lovers. This is an Asian-type market experience with stalls overflowing with exotic local produce and flowers.
Dining & Eating Out
Queensland offers visitors some great locations for Dining and Eating. Australian cuisine blends fresh ingredients and uses European culinary traditions and the light touch of Asian seasoning. You’ll taste some of the best food in the world and even the most discerning diner will be satisfied. With fresh barramundi, mud crab, exotic crocodile meat, mangoes and macadamia nuts.
Where to sleep in Wet Tropics of Queensland – from budget to best lodging
Many accommodation options are available in Queensland for every traveler’s budget. Whether you are looking for a plush five star resort or a cosy Bed & Breakfast thousands of hotels, B&Bs, apartments, resorts and hostels are available to help you find the perfect place for your holiday.
The variety of accommodation available in Queensland is listed below:
Hotels and Motels – range from warm country pubs to swanky high-rises. Every convenience is available at hotels and motels to ensure your holiday spells relaxation.
Resorts – luxurious resorts in ideal locations offer comfort and service to world-class standards.
Bed and Breakfast -experience the warm welcome and the comforts of home at a Queensland B&B.
Self Contained – self-contained apartments, cabins and holiday houses offer all the conveniences of home.
Camping and Caravans – camping sites and caravan parks offer the opportunity for you to stay in superb locations, gather with other travelers or relax in complete privacy.
Backpackers – backpacker accommodation in Queensland is among the best. Enjoy modern facilities at ideally located hostels.
Farm Stay – farm stay accommodation is as down-to-earth as their friendly hosts. Immerse yourself in Queensland’s country heritage.
Holiday houses are popular in QLD. Check local papers and local internet sites for availability as they are often privately leased and generally modern and clean.
The weather in QLD is often excellent for camping, and there are fantastic camping grounds all over the state with a variety of facilities.
These include local council’s campgrounds, state conservation parks, state forests and national parks. Some national parks require pre-booking but most work on a ‘register on arrival’ basis.