Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and is still growing as a city. The centre sits on a winding river which offers up nice walks, cycle paths and riverside eating and drinking.
Cosmopolitan (Fortitude Valley) - Nice pizzas with outside seating at reasonable prices
Cru (James St) - Trendy, if slightly pretentious wine bar serving delicious gourmet style food
Empire Hotel - Noisy central pub, a good base to start the night if you like shouting
Cru (James St) - Trendy, if slightly pretentious wine bar with its own wine cellar for wine tasting sessions
The Beat - Large gay friendly nightclub with $10 entry, pool tables and cheap mixer drinks
Things to do
Lamington National Park
Kangaroo Point Cliffs - Good views of Brisbane CBD
Lookout - great at night
Australia Zoo- About 1.5 hrs from Brisbane, an excellent zoo, sadly in the news recently following the tragic death of owner Steve Irwin. Entry is quite expensive but all the proceeds go back into the zoo. Live crocodile, snake and tiger shows.
Surfers Paradise - High rise resort popular with families and you've guessed it, surfers! A place to go if you enjoy fastfood restaurants and boisterous bars.
Beat Shack (Burleigh Heads) - Nice airy restaurant on front serving nice food, grilled snapper with the avocado salad is recommended, BYO
Point Danger - Captain Cook Memorial Lighthouse, Queensland/NSW border
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A good base if you are planning to do Whale Watching (Jul- Sep) or visit Fraser Island. Tours can be booked at most hostels/hotels and the many outlets along the main drag. Hervey Bay stretches along one main road, so check how far you accommodation is from all the pubs/restaurants if your planning to eat out. The harbour is about 10 minutes drive from the main drag, all tours will pick yo up from your accommodation
With most accommodation, even in winter (which is also very popular) it is worth booking in advance as it can get quite busy, especially in whale watching season.
Fraser Roving (Esplanade) - Lively hostel with bar, pool and internet. Can get noisy unless you are in the double en suites. Trips to Fraser and Whale Watching organized for you.
Happy Wanderer Village - Friendly caravan park 10-15 mins from centre, cabins
reasonably priced, book at least 2-3 days in advance
Aegean Restaurant (Esplanade) - French Cosmopolitan restaurant, service can be a little slow but its worth the wait with delicious food, the Barramundi in Almond and Lemon Butter is recommended. Good Atmos
Sails (Esplanade) - Diner style restaurant with laid back atmos. Good value Seafood Platters, please note these platters are half fresh and half battered fish.
Torquay Hotel (Esplanade) - Large and lively pub restaurant with outside seating and live music
Things to Do
Fraser Island - Depending on how much time you have you could either self drive and camp or join an organised trip. There are good one day 4WD tours in 4WD coaches that take you to a selection of the island. If you are planning to self drive it is advisable to have experience of 4WD driving as some of the driving is quite challenging and bad inexperienced drivers will hold up other traffic.
Camping is permitted in designated areas, and beware of Dingos who live on the island, make sure all food is locked in your car or in designated lock up boxes. It is also worth noting that the 'highway' on 75 miles beach is a recognised highway and as thus is subject to the same road rules and speed limits.
Highlights include: 75 mile beach, Eli Creek, The Pinnacles, Moheno Ship Wreck, Central Station where you can do nice rainforest walks, Lake MacKenzie with beautiful soothing waters.
Whale Watching (Jul - Sep) - There are a multitude of different tour companies that offer trips from large to small. We advise booking on a smaller boat as you will get a more personal experience, Blue Horizon are recommended they offer a morning trip (6AM pickup from your hostel), 10-13 passengers with champagne breakfast, good whale sightings guaranteed in season
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A good overnight stop off if driving from Hervey Bay up north towards the Whitsundays. Yeppoon is a small seaside town which is normally a base for the nearby Magnetic Island.
The YHA has now shut down so the cheapest options to be found are motel Tropical Nites Motel - Quiet, good value clean rooms right near the front.
The Deck Cafe (Keppel Bay Sailing Club) - A la carte menu with great sea views
Spinnakers - Across the road from the Sailing Club this is a budget cheap canteen serving buffet food, roasts, pasta, battered fish etc, there is also a large gaming area as the name indicates
Galaxy Chinese (26 James St) - Good Value BYO all you can eat buffet for $12.95 with a $1.50 corking charge for wine. Take away service also available.
Oscars (Sydney St/Gordon St) - Breezy Cafe/Diner serving great sandwiches/wraps.
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A good base for exploring the Whitsundays, Airlee Beach is popular with backpackers and tourists. As a result the nightlife is busy and noisy, so if your looking for quiet aim to get accommodation on the outskirts of town.
There is a plethora of cheap hostels in Airlee Beach but if your looking for a good nights sleep it's advisable to book in one just out of the centre.
Beach Front Appartments - Reasonably prices appartments right in the centre of town backing on to the lagoon. Can get a bit noisy being so near to the centre of town, but the rooms are clean and spacious.
Magnums - Expansive Bar Complex with nightclub and backpacker hostel. Cheap food as well as poor pool tables and dubious music
Moroccos - Late night bar/club playing a good mixture of music, cheap pool
Airlie Sailing Club (Esplanade) - A good place to relax with early evening views over the harbour away from the hubbub of town.
Shenanigans - Loud and lively Irish Pub with live music, club upstairs that stays open till dawn.
Beaches Backpackers - Lively bar part of backpackers, can get very busy. Has Eurosport and large screens for Aussie Sport. Live music and food.
Deja Vous - Classy, friendly restaurant in courtyard with great food and service. Outback Platter is recommended as a starter. Please note this is no longer a BYO.
Fish Divine (Beach Plaza, Esplanade) - Award winning fresh fish restaurant cafe, select your dish at the counter then order your wine at the adjoining wine bar with free wine tasting. The Baramundi with sweet potato chippings, macademia pesto on steamed bok choi. Good music and a good escape from the hustle and bustle of the centre.
Wok Inn (Beach Plaza, Esplanade) - Select your own stir fry at this budget eatery with great food.
Things to Do
The Whitsundays - You can book a multitude of different trips from Airlie Beach ranging from one day boat tours of the islands to 3-4 day sailing trips. All the islands offer something different ranging from more resort like experiences on Daydream Island to camping/yha on Hook Island.
Long Island - Club Croc Resort: A good option on stand by if you want a taste of the Whitsundays. Beach front rooms with pool/bar, games room, gym, tennis court. Rainforest walks and helicopter rides.
Fantasea Reefworld - Full on family friendly Barrier 'Resort' just past the Whitsundays. Reasonable diving and snorkeling, submersibles. You only get 3.5 hours here, serious divers should consider smaller boats or head further up past Cairns for better Reef. ($175 PP - Dives $80 + $40 2nd Dive)
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Has suffered a bit from the effects of Cyclone Larry but still a nice place to spend a few days relaxing on the beach. It is also a good place to stop off if you don't fancy the hubbub of Cairns and wish to explore the Atherton Tablelands
Treehouse YHA (Bingil Bay) - $50 double room shared facilities, free breakfast. Lovely wooden lodge built in the rainforest with breezy lounge and dining area. Can get noisy if staying in the dorms.
The Sanctuary Retreat - More up market than the YHA with double en suite rainforest cabins, this was due to reopen in September after cyclone damage.
Paronella Park (Mena Creek) - $26. Amazing ruined spanish castle & grounds set into the rainforest. Informative guided tours available.
Curtain Fig (nr Yungaburra) - Amazing 500 Year old fig tree that has enveloped its host. Think Lord of the Rings
Millaa Millaa Falls - Spectacular waterfall with swimable lake at bottom
Sleepy town near the Daintree, a good place to stop for lunch or overnight if planning some exploration of the area
Tropical Boost (Mossman front St) - Little cafe serving delicious tropical juices and possibly the best wraps in the world! The Crispy Sweet Chili Chicken and Salad (toasted) is out of this world!
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Where the rainforest meets the ocean, Cape Tribulation is a truly beautiful place worthy of at least 2-3 day stay. Entry is via the Daintree River Ferry and then a 40 minute drive, its a good idea to stock up on fuel before crossing as prices go up considerably in this area. The sealed road ends just past Cape Trib Beach so a 4WD is recommended if you intend going further. Some of the best diving can be had off the Cape Trib coast with the beautifully colourful ribbon reef that has been hardly touched by mans intervention. The Daintree Rainforest is some of the oldest rainforest in the world, some of it dating back to Gondwanaland, and is virtually untouched.
Cape Trib Farmstay - Our own personal favourite. Wood cabins set in an orchard looking out to Mount Sorrow, facilities are clean and the welcome is very friendly. Free breakfast including a hearty bowl of fruit. Trips arranged, and 7 min walk to the beach
PK's Jungle Village - Noisy but cheap Backpacker resort on the beach, book in advance
Cape Trib Beach House - Set away from the main part of 'town' this backpacker resort is recommended.
Cape Tribulation Campsite - Camp grounds just off the beach.
PK's Jungle Village - Large expansive backpacker resort with bar, cafe serving pub food bizarrely 12-2 and 6-8. Can get rowdy at night, if your after a quiet drink head to the Dragonfly or take a bottle of wine to the beach.
Dragonfly Cafe - Set in the rainforest this lovely restaurant serves up quality food, worth booking a day in advance if you want a rainforest view. The Pecan Pie is recommended. Look out for the owner who has a penchant for bringing snakes into the restaurant.
Cape Trib Beach House - Relaxing bar/restaurant subject to the same restricted dining hours as PKs. About an hours walk from the rest of town via beach.
Boardwalk Cafe - A good option if you need food fast or out of the restricted dining hours. The Burgers are well sized and with tasty chips make for a filling budget meal.
Things to do
Mount Sorrow Trek - Trek halfway up Mount Sorrow, early start 7hr return
Coopers Creek Night Walks - ($32) Excellent value and informative rainforest walks by a local family run business. Free pickup and use of torches.
Daintree Nice n Easy River Cruises - Available by the ferry, you can often just turn up and get on one of these 1 hour tours where you pretty much guaranteed to see crocodiles.
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The capital of Northern Queensland has grown considerably in the last ten years and now boasts an international airport only 5km from the centre. Cairns as a town isn't the most attractive but it serves as a good base for serious divers and backpackers, and as a result there is plenty of nightlife to keep the party animals occupied. Daytimes can be spent relaxing by the lagoon due to the absence of a natural beach. Cairns is also a good base if you want to explore the Atherton Tablelands and Kuranda
From Brisbane its a 2 hour flight ($75). From Brisbane by car, allow 3 days 10 hour non-stop driving or 30-36 continuous if you have enough drivers, mind you why not break it up over a week and half and see something on the way. Hire cars a very cheap and you can drive one way and drop off at your destination, so if your driving from Brisbane to Cairns you can drive up and then fly back or on to your next destination.
Balinese Motel (Lake St) - Doubles $100. Clean spacious rooms 15 mins walk from the centre. Free internet and breakfast.
Red Ochre - Award Winning Stylish Australian Cuisine Rest focusing on Australian produce. The french waiting staff are attentive up until the point you want the bill! Platters are on the expensive side but the bush tucker starter plate is recommended.
Phuket Thai Seafood Rest (Grafton St) - Well priced BYO let down by erratic service. Food is good, although check the heat of the food before ordering as our curry seemed devoid of chili
2 Fish (Marina) - Wonderful waterfront restaurant serving modern seafood dishes with great service as well. Choice of fish from the local catch.
Courthouse Hotel - Large Modern bar in an old courthouse. The clock is stuck at 3.56PM. They serve large litre glasses of Stella and have pool tables
Chapel Cafe - Trendy bar playing cool tunes with a large balcony overlooking the esplanade. 2 for 1 spirits on Tuesday
Johnno's Blues Br - Lively music bar with pool tables, a good place to catch up on a local band, check listings as the quieter nights can attract a few unsavouries.
Mad Cow Tavern (Spencer St) - Big outback style bar with pool tables, gets very busy on the weekends but quieter in the week. Free pool and $7 beer jugs on wed night.
Rhino Bar - Trendy bar overlooking the street on the 1st floor of an old Queenslander, a good place to unwind or dance.
Woolshed - Young, raucous wall to wall bar popular with backpackers and locals alike, as a result gets very busy. Entry Fee after 10, pizza food outlets downstairs.
Things to do
Mossman Gorge - Go for a swim in the freshwater of the gorge without fear of being eaten. Also a 30 min rainforest walk.
Kuranda - A lovely village set in the heart of the Atherton Tablelands, accessible either by the Kuranda train or Skyrail.
Most people take the train up and then get the Skyrail back down, although if you don't have the funds for that there is a cheap bus service that runs up and down or you can self-drive.
Train/Skyrail - It is advisable to book in advance as this gets very popular, most travel outlets or accommodation will book the train and the skyrail in one package. It is recommended to book on the early train (8.30) and then come back on the 3.30 skyrail to get the most amount of time. The train takes 1.75 hours whilst the Skyrail takes about an hour with brief stops at Barron Falls and the boardwalk.
Things to do
Banjos - Nice airy cafe serving up good snacks, the barramundi fish burger was tasty.
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VIEW QUEENSLAND GALLERY
Info supplied by Andy Webb