Queensland is a vast and varied state, rich with both lush, natural beauty and harsh desert landscapes. There’s a lot of ground to cover and one of the best ways to do so is to grab a campervan, hit the road and get going - these are some of the top spots to stop across the state.
This tropical idyll is touted as the gateway to the tropical north for good reason; it’s at the geographical heart of popular destinations such as the Wet Tropics World Heritage Rainforest and the exceptional Great Barrier Reef. Plan to spend a few days out of the reef - Quicksilver Cruises runs day tours and ProDive Cairns has a three-day live aboard cruise for divers and snorkelers alike. Back on land, take the two-hour detour north to the Daintree Rainforest, home to the world’s most diverse range of plants and animals on earth.
Detour: Mission Beach
Plan to do little in Mission Beach, a collection of four villages strung together by a vast, wild stretch of sand. Accommodation spans luxury and secluded retreats and activities are just as inclusive: families will love exploring the largest palm rainforest in the country or searching for cassowaries and outdoorsy types can choose from skydiving or white water rafting if relaxing by the ocean is too gentle of an activity.
Undara Volcanic Park
The lava tubes of the otherworldly Undara National Park, traditional country of the Ewamian people, are like a vortex into pre-history, a time when Mother Nature made her lasting marks on the landscape. At Undara, visitors can explore the vast, cavernous tubes – some of the world’s longest flows of lava originating from a single volcano – and see how they’ve evolved to become fertile ground for rainforests and ecosystems. Access is by guided tour only and on-site accommodation is available if you’d like to stay a little longer.
The undulating edges of Cobbold Gorge carve a route through bubbled sandstone formations made some 1,700 million years ago. The cliffs that hug it are 19 metres high and are a noteworthy highlight but activities here go beyond just cruising down its waters; tours can include everything from stand-up paddle boarding and helicopter fly overs, depending on your taste for adventure. Access to the park is again only by guided tour so make sure to book ahead.
Somewhere between the Gulf of Carpentaria and Cairns is the charming former gold-rush town of Croydon, where heritage houses stand stalwart in much the same way they did back during the rush in 1887. There’s a mining museum dedicated to the town’s rich history, the pristine Lake Belmore, a great spot for anglers on the hunt for Red Claw or Barramundi and the departure point for a trip through sunburnt savannah country on the ruby red Gulflander train – it dates back to 1889.
The Australian preoccupation with ‘big things’ continues in Normanton, a rural town on the edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The town’s Big Crocodile’ isn’t actually the country’s biggest – it’s a model of the biggest one actually discovered, measuring more than eight-and-a-half metres and killed in the local area in the 1950s.