BEING in lockdown need not stop you planning a dream holiday.
That is why we are taking a closer look at some of our readers’ favourite destinations and seeing what makes them so incredible. Today’s candidate for your first post-vaccination holiday is sunny Queensland in Australia . . .
The classic sight
THE world’s longest reef system is an underwater wonderland ripe for exploring with mask and snorkel. Several Great Barrier Reef trips depart from along the Queensland coast but the Quicksilver cruise from Port Douglas is a great all-rounder.
The day trip includes all snorkelling kit, a presentation by a marine biologist, an under-water viewing platform and a ride in a semi-submersible boat with massive fish-viewing windows.
Prices start at £162.
For details, see quicksilver-cruises.com.
The wow moment
IT’S not just snorkellers swimming along the Queensland coast — migrating humpback whales are a regular sight too.
From Mooloolaba, just north of state capital Brisbane, it is possible to go swimming with the whales. Tour operator Sunreef drops wonderstruck guests in the path of the gentle giants, which glide past with surprising elegance. The half-day outings cost £111.
New for 2021
PLENTY of cruises and ferries head out along the Brisbane River, but it is much more fun doing it under your own steam. The Riverlife Adventure Centre has started renting out quirky water bikes which look like a cross between an exercise bike and a catamaran.
Rent one and you can go pedalling rather than paddling along the river, taking in the city sights.
Half an hour costs £23.
The top tour
BEACHES are for sunbathing on, right? Not just that. In Queensland, some double as roads for adventurous off-road drivers. From Noosa, two hours north of Brisbane, Great Beach Drive 4WD Tours head out along the sand.
On the way are spectacular views, from the Double Island Point lighthouse, to rolling dunes and a lagoon at Rainbow Beach. Full-day tours cost £112.
A cultural fix
MOSSMAN GORGE, in the far north of Queensland, has some of Australia’s most beautiful rain-forest. But it is also a great place for learning about Aboriginal culture.
Tours with Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks show off traditional bark shelters, point out plants used as bush food and demonstrate ochre painting. The tours cost £45.
For more, see mossmangorge.com.au.
The fun neighbourhood
BRISBANE’S South Bank is lined with bars and restaurants but you might be too busy playing to stop and eat and drink. The riverside suburb is lined with imaginative gardens and the centrepiece is Streets Beach.
This giant man-made beach and lagoon is the perfect swim spot on a hot day. It is free to use and patrolled by lifeguards.
The great outdoors
FRASER ISLAND is the world’s largest sand island — and the main highway is the beach. But it is not all about the coast. Head inland and there are beautiful walks through the rainforest and dazzling lakes.
The water is so pure at Lake McKenzie, you are not allowed to apply sun cream before swimming in it. Fraser Explorer Tours runs day trips from Hervey Bay for £136.
A fantastic feast
SHIPPING containers, it seems, can be surprisingly versatile. At Eat Street Northshore in Brisbane, hundreds of containers have been gathered together to form what feels like a party village.
There are more than 100 food, drink and craft shopping stalls gathered together, with dishes from all over the world served up. In between them are mini-stages, with musicians and bands playing while you chow down.
With the kids
THE Gold Coast, just south of Brisbane, is the closest Australia gets to the American state of Florida. It is famous for its surf beaches but the Gold Coast is also where Australia’s top theme parks cluster. Dreamworld is the one with the biggest, fastest rides.
The Gold Coaster, Giant Drop and Buzz Saw should get everyone screaming their head off but there are also plenty of gentler options for younger kids. The £50 entry fee also gets you into the WhiteWater World water park.
One more treat
WITH a big selection of beaches and activities on the waterways, Noosa might just be the perfect beach town. The Noosa National Park, just to the east of main shopping strip Hastings Street, is a just one of the treats, while several walking trails show off cove beaches, clifftops and native forest.
But keep looking up in the trees for grey furballs — this is one of the best places in Australia to spot koalas in the wild.
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