The Aussie jewel
Rainy Moran

on behalf of the Queensland Tourist Board

Queensland offers holiday makers a myriad of destinations to suit the individual. From the scorched outback to where the ancient lush rain forest meets the protected waters of the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland is a truly amazing experience for people from all walks of life. There are so many aspects that make this state an increasingly popular destination among Australians and international visitors alike.

As it is seven times larger than Great Britain, it is no surprise to see the majestic changes in landscape. Coined 'The Sunshine State', Queensland has over 300 days of sunshine per year which makes its tropical to subtropical climate beautiful even in winter. Three international airports, Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville make Queensland readily accessible to the international traveller. Transport within the state is in abundance with numerous regional and domestic airports. Trains, coaches and car hire are also affordable.

Queensland has something for everyone, from backpackers to families to business people. Five-star resorts, hotels, hostels, conference centres and camping grounds are in abundance.

The state is famed for its Great Barrier Reef which is affectionately known as 'The Eighth Wonder of The World' and stretches for 1,200 miles down the coast of Queensland. Thousands of tropical islands scattered along the reef offer visitors a diversity of choices. Secluded island retreats, with only a handful of guests at one time, allow visitors a chance to restore body, mind and spirit in utter self indulgence. Each island, equal in beauty is unique in its vegetation, marine life and atmosphere.

Camping on the islands in the National Parks is an experience not to be missed. Bush walking, birdwatching, horse riding and snorkelling and diving in the living kaleidoscope of the reef are just the start of the coast of Queensland's attractions.

The decadence of yachting through the Whitsunday Islands and picnicking on coral cays are affordable on all budgets. World-class golf courses throughout Queensland lure professional and amateur players from all around the world.

International sporting competitions such as The Indy Car Grand Prix add another dimension to the cosmopolitan atmosphere in The Sunshine State.

And for a four-day event like no other, check out the racing in the streets of Surfers Paradise on The Gold Coast every March.

Hayman Island Resort, the five star tropical island paradise is the home to the annual Hayman Island Yacht Regatta in the magnificent Whitsunday Islands which draws competitors from both local and international circuits.

Game fishing competitions on the Marlin Coast north of Cairns also attracts boats from all over the world to take part in this prestigious event.

For the adventurous at heart, white water rafting, bungee jumping, hang gliding, sky diving, water-skiing and para sailing are some of the activities available.

Many outback towns offer stays on sheep and cattle stations where the locals are as colourful as the sunsets. Country rodeos are exciting and give a strong local flavour of another side to rural Australian life.

Four-Wheel Driving on Frazer Island, southeast Queensland is an unforgettable experience. The largest sand island in the world abounds with spectacular freshwater lakes, quaint creeks and rich rain forests. And then there are the wild brumbies and dingoes which symbolise the island's undisturbed tranquillity.

The Great Dividing Range runs right down the edge of Queensland and separates the coast from the outback. Tucked away in old growth forests, mountain retreats nestle amongst waterfalls and national parks throughout southeast Queensland. These extend to The Daintree River where the forest meets the white sands on the coast of the far north of Queensland inside the tropical zone.

A rich and diverse history stems way back to 40,000 years ago when Aboriginals originally settled Australia. Culturally rich, Queensland is quite different to other parts of Australia and to the rest of world. The people are amazing storytellers and you can pick up on the region's character by enjoying their laid-back attitudes and friendliness.

Queensland is wealthy in beauty and culture. Most importantly, it is accessible, affordable, with a wide appeal. With no shortage of destinations, holiday makers can be as relaxed or as active as they desire.