Your QLD Questions Answered
When it comes to Queensland holiday queries, let out experts (that's us!) show the way
Q. My two kids (two and eight) are obsessed with koalas. Where can they cuddle one?
A. Queensland is one of only two states in Australia where you can get close enough to a koala to cuddle it. From the Gold Coast all the way up to Cairns, there are 10 locations where you can snag a snuggle.
Heading to the Gold Coast? Pop in to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. This place has been a magnet for adults and children for more than 40 years. Australians as well as overseas visitors, young and old, come here to hold a koala – and have their photo taken with one too.
If your holiday plans take you further north, another popular spot to cuddle one of Australia’s favourite animals is Australia Zoo, Steve Irwin’s legacy, on the Sunshine Coast.
Wherever you are in Queensland you won’t have to travel to far to find a koala to cuddle. Other koala spots where you can get close to the critters include the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas, Gold Coast’s Paradise Country and also Dreamworld in the Gold Coast, Cairns Tropical Zoo, Cairns Wildlife Dome and Zoo, Wildlife on Hamilton Island, Bungalow Bay Koala Village on Magnetic Island and Rainforestation Nature Park in Kuranda.
- Luisa Parton, senior travel consultant, Flight Centre Doncaster
Q. My mates and I will be travelling to Queensland for a boys week, with some adventure thrown in, of course. We want to find some activities that take in nature and adrenalin. Any recommendations?
A. If you’re after a destination that has it all, my recommendation would be Port Douglas. It is an easy 60-minute drive from Cairns Airport, by coach or hire car.
Adventure and nature junkies can spend a day snorkelling and diving at the Great Barrier Reef, then go hiking and ‘jungle surfing’ in the Daintree Rainforest.
The next day, get up early and watch the sunrise from a hot-air balloon, then take a day trip south to Tully to experience the thrill of white-water rafting and be back in Port Douglas for happy hour.
There is a fantastic range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hotels and self-contained apartments to luxury hotels and all-inclusive resorts. Port Douglas also has a small, but buzzing, cafe and bar scene, so you won’t be short of a nice place to eat or drink.
And if you can plan your travel around events there are some great ones on in Cairns. Cairns Airport Ironman on 14 June is an exciting event to watch and a week later (20-21 June) is the Australia Classic, a two-day classic car rally.
- Daniel Beck, team leader, Flight Centre Surry Hills
Q. Where can you sail in Queensland?
A. My favourite spot to sail in Queensland would be the Whitsundays. You can sail as often as you want, and the diving, snorkelling and kayaking is also great if you want to change it up. Boat-tour company Whitsundays Sailing Adventures has a large variety of options to suit all budgets.
From performance sailing and classic cruising to outer reef and island diving, there’s a water adventure for everyone. You can choose between two days/one night, two days/two nights or a relaxing one-day adventure on the crystal-clear waters.
You can also hire a boat from Whitsunday Escape and sail it yourself (called bareboating). With no crew or a skipper you’re completely in charge of your own adventure. If you prefer someone else to do the driving, Whitsunday Holidays offer fully crewed luxury boats for hire for the ultimate sailing escapade.
- Lauren Calandro, manager, Flight Centre Gawler
Q. I used to love going out in Brisbane but haven’t been there in a few years. I’ve heard there are quite a few new cool bars. What are your picks?
A. You heard right! There are many chic and funky new bars in Brisbane. Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall was recently named 2015 bar of the year for by Australian Gourmet Traveller. I come here for great cocktails but there’s also a wide choice of whiskeys and an always-elegant vibe.
Another one of my favourites is the Riverbar & Kitchen, which has an outdoor seating area looking over Brisbane River. They serve cocktail jars and jugs, along with a selection of finger foods and mains if you want to eat.
Cloudland in Fortitude Valley is another hotspot to visit. Every Thursday is salsa night, complete with live music so you can dance the night away.
- Alyssa Du Shane, assistant manager, Flight Centre Wynnum Plaza
Q. My teenage daughter and I are heading to Queensland for a break and we both love to shop. Can you name a few places where we can grab a bargain?
A. I would recommend travelling to the Gold Coast. Pacific Fair is an amazing open-plan shopping experience with a large variety of stores to suit everyone’s needs.
There's also have Harbour Town, which is known for its factory outlets and is an ideal spot to grab a bargain. There are many other factory outlets located in the Gold Coast area, so the best way to visit as many shops as you can is by getting a Gold Coast Tourist Shuttle Freedom Pass, so you can easily get from your accommodation straight to the stores.
- Kim McNamara, consultant, Flight Centre Kogarah
Q. I’m travelling to Queensland with my husband and two teenage children. Where would you recommend we go to keep us all entertained?
A. Tropical North Queensland is a great family destination. I would recommend a few nights in Cairns for great food and shopping. On the Esplanade there's a Queensland-shaped lagoon that is ideal for swimming, safe for the kids and is a great place to relax.
If you're not a confident swimmer but still want to do the reef, I recommend the Ocean Spirit Michaelmas Cay tour. Out of Cairns, beautiful Palm Cove has many friendly resorts, fantastic cafes and lovely walks along the beach.
When it comes to things to do in the area, the list is long! The Great Barrier Reef, Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail, and the Kuranda Original Rainforest markets are all must-dos. There is also a variety of Aboriginal cultural tours, fun and a learning opportunity for all.