Queensland

Queensland


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Queensland is Australia's major holiday playground. It is a vast state in the northeast of the country and its tropical climate, marvelous beaches, islands and rainforests attract millions of domestic and foreign visitors every year. Nowadays, tourism is more important than the two traditional earners of the state's economy, agriculture and mining. Queensland borders New South Wales to the south, the Northern Territory and South Australia to the west, the Torres Strait to the north and the Pacific Ocean and Coral Sea to the east. It measures 1,727,000 km² and it has a population of over 3,000,000 people.

Queensland's coastal strip attracts many economic refugees from other parts of Australia and in some places, the natural beauty is in danger of being overwhelmed by suburban expansion, similar to what happened in Florida several decades ago. Queensland suffers from many problems of overdevelopment and poor urban planning.

You don't have to travel too far inland to experience Australia's rugged farming life. A visit to the large, dry desert-like areas in the southwest of the state, the Cape York Peninsula, or the Gulf of Carpentaria will remember the visitor that Queensland remains a frontier state.

Queensland has four distinct geographical regions. The coastal strip is lush and green and, together with the islands of the Great Barrier Reef, it forms the basis of the state's tourist industry. Parallel to the coast runs the mountainous Great Dividing Range, while the flat agricultural tableland to the west is one of Australia's most productive grain-growing regions. The vast, sparsely populated outback, which stretches all the way into the Northern Territory, is the state's most barren region. There are more than 300 national parks in Queensland. Most of its population is concentrated on the coast.

When to go

The northern half of Queensland has two seasons. It is hot and wet between November and May, while the rest of the year it is cooler and drier. January to March is the peak wet season and Tully, in the northeast of Queensland, is the wettest place in Australia. On average it receives 4400 mm of precipitation every year. Despite of all the rain, the wet season has temperatures that average 35-40°C.

The southern half of the state has more or less the same seasons, but the extremes vary less. For example, in Brisbane temperatures rarely drop below 20°C and it is hardly ever really cold. Only during the night, inland regions, as well as the mountains can get quite cold during the winter. The further inland you go, the drier it gets.

The peak tourist seasons are the summer, from mid-December to late January, the two weeks around Easter and mid-June to mid-October. The quiet season is in February and March. Countless festivals are organized in Queensland every year. The Toowoomba Romance & Arts Festival lasts for a week and takes place around St Valentine's Day. At Surfers Paradise, the Indy Carnival car races are held in March, while the Gold Coast Boat Show is in early April. Later that month, the Charters Towers Country Music Festival takes place.

In June you can go to Noosa for the Noosa Arts Festival and in August the Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo & Mardi Gras is celebrated. From late August to early September the Great Barrier Reef Dive Festival is held and the Birdsville Races are also in September.

Places of interest

Brisbane is the scenic state-capital of Queensland. Other interesting towns include Birdsville, Cairns and Noosa. Other interesting sights include Cape York Peninsula, Carnarvon National Park, Fraser Island, Gold Coast, Great Barrier Reef, Lark Quarry Environmental Park, the Outback, the Sunshine Coast and Surfer's Paradise. The Walkabout Creek Hotel, which featured in Crocodile Dundee, is in the tiny hamlet of McKinlay. Banjo Patterson is said to have written Waltzing Matilda in 1895 at Combo Waterhole on Dagworth Station, between Winton and Kyuna.

Other activities

The Great Barrier Reef stretches along the eastern coast of Queensland from Gladstone to the edge of Papua New Guinea, a distance of some 2000 km. It offers some of the world's best scuba diving and snorkeling possibilities. Airlie Beach, Cairns and Townsville are the best places to organize diving. The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are the best places to go Surfing. North of Fraser Island, the reef protects the coast from waves. The Whitsunday Islands are a paradise for sailing and Airlie Beach is the main center for that activity. The Tully River and the North Johnstone River, especially the stretch between Townsville and Cairns are popular for White-water rafting and canoeing.

Queensland's national parks are excellent for bush walking. The best bush walking possibilities are in Lamington, in the southern Border Ranges and Cooloola, north of the Sunshine Coast. In Cairns, a wide variety of organized activities is available, including bungee jumping, tandem skydiving and deep sea fishing, as well as balloon rides, mountain bike tours and scenic flights over the reef. There is great barramundi fishing in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Charters can be arranged in Normanton.

Warning

From November to April, avoid swimming on unprotected northern beaches where deadly box-jellyfish may be present. Great Keppel Island, near Rockhampton, is usually the safest northerly place to swim during this season.

Transportation

Brisbane and Cairns have international airports. Domestic flights are available to Queensland's major centers, as well as other cities in Australia. Smaller places up and down the coast, across Cape York and into the outback are also serviced by air. During the wet season, flying is often the only option to get around the Gulf of Carpentaria or the Cape York Peninsula.

There are four major rail routes in Queensland. The lines run between Brisbane and Cairns, Brisbane and Quilpie, Rockhampton and Winton and Townsville to Mount Isa. Various bus services link coastal towns and operate inland from Townsville to Mount Isa and into the Northern Territory. Cars can be rented in most larger towns. Highway 1 runs along the coast from the border with New South Wales to Daintree. The major inland arteries connect Mount Isa with Rockhampton and Townsville.


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