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Queensland’s most famous attraction is the astounding aquatic wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef, which stretches for more than 2,000km along the coast.

The Sunshine State is also home to hundreds of islands, harbouring a remarkable variety of landscapes _ giant sand dunes, colourful fringing reefs and surreal forests growing right in the sand. You’ll find idyllic island getaways, remote ocean-fronting camp sites and family-friendly resorts.

Back on the mainland, bewitching national parks dot the landscape, with lush rainforests, soaring mountains, sparkling lakes and a staggering array of wildlife that rates from cute and cuddly (koalas) to downright fearsome (crocs).

Gateway to the state is the easy-going river city of Brisbane, whose urban charms (great dining, nightlife and the arts) meld seamlessly with the natural environment (riverside cliffs, parklands and botanic gardens). In the south, the glitz and high energy of the Gold Coast vies with the laid-back beach towns of the Sunshine Coast.

BIG ADVENTURES

The great outdoors holds endless possibilities in Queensland. You can don a mask and fins and explore some of the most stunning underwater landscapes on Earth. There’s adrenaline-charged white-water rafting in the north, and smooth and scenic kayaking all along the coast. Bushwalking and hiking are first-rate, whether you opt for a challenging multi-day trek on one of the state’s scenic Great Walks, or hit a shorter trail through rainforests and gorges, up mountains or along bush-lined lakes and rivers.

You can go sailing through the turquoise waters of the Whitsundays, stopping at powdery white-sand beaches along the way; or take on a 4WD adventure, plying the ”beach highway” of Fraser Island, exploring the great open skies of the outback or jostling along the rutted Bloomfield Track en route to the Tip of Australia.

EAT, DRINK, REPEAT AS NECESSARY

With a great cafe scene, sprawling food markets and riverside restaurants serving temptations from every corner of the globe, Brisbane is redefining itself as a foodie destination. The city’s alter ego arrives after sundown, when nightclubs, lounges and bars light up the capital.

Elsewhere in the state you’ll find culinary rewards great and small, from seafood feasts along the coast to sizzling steaks in the outback. Superb dining rooms are sprinkled all over Queensland, from Noosa (which also has a worthwhile food festival) to Port Douglas (with memorable waterside restaurants). Although little known abroad, the Granite Belt has been producing some superb wines in recent years, with dozens of vineyards open for tasting (plus orchards, berry farms and cheese-makers).

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