Things to do in Queensland: The Ultimate QLD Bucket List
We have a wide range of guests stay with us at Sand Dunes Resort and we often get asked what are the ‘must do’ things in Queensland. The sunshine state may be full of wide open spaces and coastal towns, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of unique and exciting experiences to tick off your bucket list. Here are the top 30 things to do in Queensland:
1/ Take on a tent fighterOutback Queensland is one of the last places in the world that a spectator can throw down the gauntlet to a fighter in a tent. Fred Brophy, who tours with his tent boxing troupe all around Queensland, puts on the spectacle. The contestants are fully gloved and the fight is well regulated and controlled to ensure no major injuries are inflicted. If fighting isn’t your cup of tea, it’s well worth it going along as a spectator. Visit their Facebook
2/ Conquer Mount TibrogarganAs the Glass House Mountains’ second steepest peak, Tibro’s 364m summit is challenging climb. Mt Tibrogargan has been periodically closed to the public but it is now open and enjoyed by many bushwalkers and rock climbers. It’s advised that visitors plan and prepare for the climb diligently as there have been numerous deaths and emergency rescues over the years.
3/ Feed a wild dolphin in Tin Can BaySeeing a dolphin behind a glass enclosure is one thing, getting up close and personal and feeding one in the wild is a completely unique experience. A small population of the rare species of Indo Pacific Humpback Dolphins have lived in this quiet town off the southern tip of Fraser Island for many years. Visitors can feed these aquatic mammals at Barnacles Dolphin Centre. Visit the website
4/ Catch a metre-long BarramundiThey’re big, bite hard and taste magnificent. The Barramudi has got to be Australia’s most desirable fish to catch. Imagine putting along an estuary in north Queensland, fighting salt-water crocodiles for a whopping barra that’s just taken your bait! It’s a thrilling experience but it doesn’t even have to be that hard. Cast out in Lake Tinaroo in the Atherton Tablelands near Cairns and you’ll have a decent chance of hooking a monster.
5/ Swim nude at Alexandria BayThe Sunshine Coast’s only nude beach is well known among locals but still remains a well-kept secret to tourists. It’s a beautiful and private cove east of the Noosa National park. If you want to really feel alive in the ocean, swim at Alexandria Bay. It’s also a bit cheeky, as the beach is not legally recognised as a nudist beach. But that’s all part of the fun.
6/ Ride the CityCat in BrisbaneThe CityCat is more than just a mode of public transport. It’s a way of life and a cultural icon of the river city. Brisbane’s humble ferries putted up and down the Brisbane River for decades before the new and improved CityCats hit the scene. It’s also a fantastic way to see the city’s major landmarks, from New Farm Park on the inner north side to South Bank further upstream. Hop aboard, find a seat outside and take in the fresh air and wonderful city views.
7/ Whale watch in Hervey BayOnce the months get cooler (it doesn’t really get that cold in Queensland), it is the perfect time of year to take a trip to Hervey Bay on the Fraser Coast. From July to November, many of the Pacific Ocean’s Humpback Whales make a stopover to the pristine calm waters of this bay on their way to Antarctica. Boat tours can be arranged but it gets notoriously busy so be sure to plan your trip ahead of time. Try the >Quick Cat II Whale Watch trip, they've been running whale-watching tours for a few decades now and if you don't see a whale they will give you a free trip on another tour, and will continue to do so until you spot one of the majestic giants of the ocean. Visit the website
8/ Tour Fraser Island in a 4×4Just off the coast of Hervey Bay is one of Queensland’s major attractions. Fraser Island boasts over 100 freshwater lakes, incredible fishing, majestic rainforests and a secluded population of dingoes. Seeing it all with a four-wheel-drive is the best way of gaining access to the heritage-listed island, which is the biggest sand island in the world. Come over by barge or hire a 4x4 when you get there.
9/ Shop at Davies Markets in West EndBrisbane’s inner city suburb of West End may by changing but the Saturday market at Davies Park has not lost its roots. Stalls selling farm fresh fruit and vegetables stand next to second-hand vinyl records, handmade clothes and specialty crafts. Sitting beneath a shady Moreton Bay Fig Tree while listening to some local live music at brunch is the perfect way to start your weekend. The markets now serve delicious food from across the globe until lunchtime. Pro tip: Don’t bother getting there too early as it gets very crowded and hard to find a park. The best bargains can be found as the markets wrap up too. Visit the website.
10/ Chill at Peregian OriginalsBrisbane may be home to most of Queensland’s musicians and artists but the Sunshine Coast has its fair share too. Every second Sunday, local acts from around the region come and play in the super chilled location of Peregian Beach Park. The all ages event is perfect for mum and dad to enjoy the talent on offer and have a quiet drink while the kids dance near the stage. Visit the website.
13/ Save a turtle in the top endExperiencing the beauty of one of Australia’s most remote communities north of Weipa is enough of a reason to visit the western cape at the tip of Australia. The opportunity to save the local turtle population from feral pigs is surely even more of reason to pay a visit. During dry season (July to October), Camp Chivaree gives tourists a chance to help rangers and the indigenous community in Mapoon with giving nesting Flat Back and Olive Ridley turtles the best chance of ensuring their next generation lives on.
14/ Drink beer at the XXXX BreweryIf you haven’t noticed already, XXXX is one of Queensland’s most famous exports. It is as Queensland as you can get. Making the pilgrimage to the XXXX Brewery in Milton will do you any good stead when speaking to a Queenslander about what you spent your holidays doing. It’s conveniently located right by the train station so getting back to your hotel or home responsibly is not a problem. There’s also a restaurant to quench your thirst at after taking a tour. Visit the website.
15/ Drink rum at BundabergBundaberg Rum is arguably Queensland’s next biggest export and the further north you travel, the more you will see it being lovingly consumed. The product of the state’s vast cane farms has distinctive sweet taste that can be enjoyed right from the distillery’s casks. A guided tour pays homage to the much-adored Bundy Rum, first distilled in 1888. More than 85,000 people visit every year. Visit the website.
16/ Ho-down at Gympie MusterGympie Muster is probably second only to Tamworth Country Music Festival in size, atmosphere and country music talent. Originating in the 1980s as community fundraiser, the four-day festival attracts more than 20,000 people every year in late August. The location in the Mary Valley’s glorious Amamoor Creek State Forest Park is an ideal place to pitch a tent and enjoy the music. Visit the website. Check Out More Festivals
17/ Caloundra Music FestivalThis festival has become one of the Sunshine Coast’s largest annual events and one of the biggest in QLD, and with good reason. The 4-day music festival draws hugely talented Australian and international acts, with the main genres being Funk, Soul, Rock, Reggae Roots and Pop. It takes part in the purpose-built amphitheatre at Kings Beach with 4 stages beachside + Kings Club Piano Bar, as well as the surrounding parkland area. The all ages event is great for families and younger music fans with funky Forest children’s area, workshops and entertainment. This is definitely a major tourist attraction for the Sunshine Coast so it’s best to book tickets and accommodation in advance. Visit the website. Check Out More Festivals
18/ Buy a show bag at the EkkaAsk any Queenslander about their childhood and they’ll telly you how excited they were to go to their first Ekka and buy a showbag. The annual agricultural exhibition (Ekka for short) held in August is a rite of passage for locals of the sunshine state and a great opportunity for tourists to experience a typically Queensland event. More traditional attractions include seeing the wood chopping competition and getting up close to the state’s award winning livestock but more thrilling activities would be riding the many roller coasters and games in Sideshow Alley. But stopping off at the showbag pavilion is a must. Be sure to include the good value favourite Bertie Beetle bag in your purchase. Visit the website.
19/ Bar-hop on Ocean StreetOnce a quiet strip of shops with nothing much more than a supermarket and the Duporth Tavern, Ocean Street is now a booming nightlife district. Modern tapas bars, live music venues and nightclubs all share this Maroochydore street. If you were worried the Sunny Coast couldn’t provide you with decent late night entertainment, just hit Ocean Street. Have dinner at the Piano Bar at the top of the street, which gets you in the mood with live jazz and Mediterranean cuisine. Keep kicking on to Solbar for more live music or enjoy a commendable range of craft beer on tap at The Post Office. From there, the choice is yours – have a pint at the Due’y (Duporth) or dance into the early hours of the morning at Old Soul. Families and those who don’t want a huge night out can also enjoy the night markets every Friday.
20/ Surf Snapper RocksIt’s not hard to find good surf up and down the east coast but this Gold Coast beach arguably has the best swell. Snapper Rocks regularly holds professional surfing competitions and draws plenty of amateur surfers to its point break year round. As you can imagine, surfing close to rocky cliffs can be perilous and it is only advisable for those who are confident in the water. For beginner surfers who are eager to learn, any of Goldy’s beaches further up would be great places to start.
21/ Get folky at WoodfordThe Woodford Folk Festival is truly magical experience. Thousands of people attend every year over Christmas and New Year. The temporary village located at Woodfordia in the hinterland south of the Sunshine Coast swells with more than 100,000 hippies, music lovers and families making the annual pilgrimage. But the best way to do Woodford is by pitching up a tent the day before New Year’s Eve and exploring the temporary village, enjoying an eclectic selection of performances, celebrating & dancing with friends & strangers on New Years Eve and wrapping up with some time to be still & reflect on the year passed during the Fire Event Ceremony held on the eve of the 1st. Visit the website Check Out More Festivals
22/ Watch the Maroons at Lang ParkRugby League is by far the most popular sport in Queensland and the State of Origin is the series that really matters. The top league players who were born in the sunshine state take on the Blues (or cockroaches) from New South Wales in a three-game series every year. It’s a bitter rivalry that runs deep and the atmosphere at Brisbane’s Lang Park, the spiritual home of Rugby League, is electrifying. Tickets aren’t cheap and move pretty fast so if you want to experience what is arguably the most exciting game of League in the world, book early.
23/ See the Crocs Live Show at Australia ZooThe late Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo is one of the country’s top tourist attractions and even a favourite for locals. You can’t see a rhinoceros and a cheetah as well as Australia’s rare marsupials and deadly reptiles in many other places in the world. The Crocs Live show, made famous by the Crocodile Hunter himself, is a must when attending the Beerwah zoo. The crocs get hungry buy the afternoon and put on a great show while being fed by hand, especially big Bluey.
24/ Bet at the Birdsville RacesIt might seem crazy to venture out into the vast Queensland interior to see a horse race but nearly 6000 others do it every year. Every September, this quiet town 1600km from Brisbane puts on an amazing spectacle. Even if you’re not a big fan of the races, this one is not to be missed.
25/ Night-swim at South BankBrisbane’s heat and humidity in summer can be unbearable and sometimes the temperature will hardly change once the sun goes down. You’ll take a cold shower and be instantly sweating. On a hot and steamy night in Brisbane, the only way to cool off is at Brisbane’s man-made beach at South Bank.
26/ Buy something unique at Eumundi MarketsThese Sunshine Coast markets would give just about any other a run for their money. There’s just about everything you can imagine at Eumundi Markets and a lot of it is locally hand made. It’s also a grwat place to stop off for breakfast or lunch and catch some of the live music on offer. If you’re strugglng to think of a gift or souvenir to remember your trip on the Sunny Coast, hit up the Eumundi Markets every Wednesday and Sunday. Visit the Website
27/ Climb Story BridgeIt’s not the Sydney Harbour Bridge but at the end of the 50m climb, the views of Brisbane’s city skyline are just as breathtaking. Urban climbers are strapped to a harness and follow a guide to the peak of the 50-year-old bridge. Scaling the Story Bridge has only recently been available and is now a hit with locals and tourists. Check out the company that runs the climbs below. Visit the website
28/ Do lunch on Hastings StreetNoosa’s Hastings Street has an international reputation for attracting some of the world’s most talented chef. There couldn’t be a better way of enjoying a gourmet alfresco lunch than at Gaston Bar and Bistro. Walk off that lavish meal up and down Hastings and window-shop at the great many designer shops and boutiques. There are plenty of great bars to start your evening too. Visit the website
29/ Hug a koala at Lone PineThese adorable marsupials are an undoubtedly an icon of our great sunburnt land but as the east coast’s cities and highways get bigger, their natural eucalypt habitat shrinks. Thankfully, places like the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary will always have a place for the state’s koalas. It is officially the world’s largest koala sanctuary and is conveniently located in Brisbane’s western suburb of Fig Tree Pocket. Something any visitor to Queensland should do before leaving is get close and cuddly with a koala at Lone Pine. Visit the website
30/ Dive the Great Barrier ReefIt goes without saying that seeing the beauty of the world’s largest living organism, which is visible from space, is a must. The in the world has long been Queensland’s most popular tourist attraction and continues to draw millions of people to state’s tropical north. The coral bleaching and the damaging spread of the Crown of Thorns has been highly publicised but the reef’s vivid colour and diverse marine habitat is still and awe inspiring sight to behold. Diving is by far the best way to see it but snorkelling in some areas and viewing the reef from a glass bottom boat can also be just as good.