As the temperature plummets and the power bills soar you might imagine there’s no escaping winter. But then you bump into someone who’s planning their midwinter getaway and you realise you can get away from the cold – by boarding a flight to tropical Queensland. With international airports handily located in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and the Gold Coast, in as little as four hours you can be swimming, wandering around in short sleeves and actually needing sunscreen. Whether you’re seeking culture or adventure, exploring the outback, the rainforest or the seaside – now is the time to book that break.
Port Douglas is one of Queensland’s sweetest little townships and, for a small village, you’ll find all manner of boutique shopping, a good range of fine and casual dining, not to mention accommodation for all budgets. Aside from being pleasant to just stroll around, Port Douglas is the perfect base for embarking on nautical adventures, including excursions to the famous Great Barrier Reef where whales, turtles and potato gropers can all be spotted. With the recent release of the Finding Dory movie, be sure to spend some of your snorkeling time looking for Pacific Blue Tangs (if you didn’t know, that’s the kind of fish Dory is). Also, ‘Winter’ in Queensland isn’t stinger season, so your chances of being bothered by jellyfish are slim. It still doesn’t hurt to wear a stinger suit in the ocean, just in case, because they also protect you from sunburn. If you prefer life on dry land, the famous Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat is two acres of fascinating flora and fauna where visitors can get up close and personal with Australia’s wildlife. The award-winning ‘immersion exhibit’ is divided into four environments, Savannah, Wetlands, Rainforest and Grasslands and features birdlife, marsupials, reptiles and more. If you’re feeling game, there are quite a few creatures you can feed or even hold.
If it’s a more urban adventure you’re after, Brisbane is hard to beat for a short holiday. At the magnificent Queensland Museum on the South Bank, curious souls can delve into Aboriginal heritage and art, the world of dinosaurs, The Body Zone or the acclaimed Hadron Collider exhibit. Perhaps botany is more your cup of green tea? Then it’s off to The Botanic Gardens at Mount Coot-Tha with you. Spread out over 52 acres of subtropical paradise, the Japanese Gardens and Freedom Wall are among the many highlights. And to get some perspective on the city as a whole, The Wheel of Brisbane, like a giant ferris wheel, is one big photo opportunity from the ground up, offering 360-degree views of this vibrant and picturesque city. And don’t forget your swimsuit, because no trip to Brizzy is complete without a stop at Street Beach, a man-made lagoon right by the river with crystal clear waters and white sand beaches. Smack bang in the middle of town, this is the grooviest place to cool off after a busy day’s sight seeing.
The heart of Australia, the vast red outback, is becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination. With the latest drought forcing many farmers to look at alternative revenue streams, tourism is a growing concern. Highlights in the rural town of Longreach include riverboat cruises down the Thomson River, the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Qantas Founders Museum. Regardless of your age or taste, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy here. For an experience like no other, book yourself a ticket on the Cobb and Co stagecoach ride with Kinnon & Co – nothing on earth can compare with this. From the sounds and smells as you clatter and rumble across the dry land, to the tall tales of the pioneers that are told as the red dust billows up behind the coach – these will be memories you’ll cherish forever. And a mere two hours drive away (a short trip by outback standards) the town or Winton is famous for dinosaur experiences. At Lark Quarry you can see the footprints of a genuine dinosaur stampede then, at The Australian Age of Dinosaurs, you can put the many paleontological marvels of this region into perspective.
Or you could just load up the kindle and lie by one of the state of Queensland’s many thousands of hotel pools for a week – because from the chill of a New Zealand winter, all of these options sound terrifically appealing.
As preparation though, don’t just book a pedicure and a spray tan, because it’s also time to think about travel insurance in case of unexpected loss or illness. So be sure to find out about Worldcare’s low-cost, high-quality travel insurance options for your trip to beautiful, sunny Queensland.
Travel Writer and Worldcare Blogger
Elisabeth has what is known in the trade as a ‘portfolio career’. Upon discovering that law school wasn’t really her bag, she completed a degree in theatre and film at Victoria University, followed by a diploma in acting from The NZ Drama School: Toi Whaakari. After a couple of years playing Shortland Street’s notorious villain, the evil Nurse Carla, she became a breakfast radio host which required a lot less make up and marginally less bloodshed. From the late 90s wanderlust took over and she spent the subsequent decade travelling the world, taking on all manner of odd jobs during which time she discovered that her vocation was writing. Today Elisabeth writes about travel and leisure, arts and culture; she is also a regular contributor to Radio NZ National and an award-winning playwright.