For those preferring not to drive, consider travelling by rail from Brisbane to Cairns. Queensland is located on the east coast of Australia, north of New South Wales and is the home of many iconic attractions of Australia including the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands. What better way to explore than by rail.
Queensland by Rail
For some, a driving holiday holds no appeal, or perhaps for some parts of your Australian adventure, you prefer to let the train take the strain. What better way to explore, therefore, than by rail. .
Day 1: Brisbane Day 3: Maryborough/Fraser Island Day 6: Gladstone Day 7: Heron Island Day 10: Sunlander Day 11: Proserpine/Airlie Beach, join cruise Day 14: Airlie Beach Day 15: Cairns
Queensland is located on the east coast of Australia, north of New South Wales and is the home of many iconic attractions of Australia including the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands. A diverse state with something for everyone, an itinerary here can combine cities, culture, wildlife, rainforests, hinterland, beautiful coastal resorts, islands and of course the barrier reef.
Day 1: Brisbane Arrive into Brisbane today for a two-night stay. Dissected by the Brisbane River, this city is an eclectic mix of culture, shopping and the laidback lifestyle that epitomizes Queensland. Take a riverfront walk, enjoy a sight-seeing cruise or climb the Story Bridge – one of only three bridge climbs in the world.
Day 3: Maryborough/Fraser Island Travel aboard the train today, a rail service that runs parallel to the coast (although you won’t be able to see the coast for much, if any of the journey). From here, you’ll head to the World Heritage listed Fraser Island – the largest sand island in the world. With pristine beaches, lakes and rainforests growing in the sand, a stay on Fraser Island gives you a taste of unspoilt paradise.
Day 6: Gladstone Return to the rail station today and take the train to Gladstone for an overnight stay. Here, visit the Tondoon Botanic Gardens or enjoy wine tasting at a local winery.
Day 7: Heron Island Transfer to Heron Island this morning for a three-night stay on this Great Barrier Reef Island. With crystal clear waters, incredible snorkelling and diving opportunities and white sands, a stay here will be a fantastic way to experience the reef.
Day 10: Overnight on the train Return to the station this evening, and board the train for an overnight journey north to Proserpine. At this point you could opt instead to take the Spirit of the Outback train, which heads into the interior of Queensland to Longreach. Longreach is home to the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Qantas Founders Museum – the Queensland and Northern Territories Aerial Service (Q.A.N.T.A.S) was founded here. From Longreach, one can also visit a working cattle station and visit the historic towns of Barcaldine and Ilfracombe.
Day 11: Proserpine/Airlie Beach, join cruise Arrive into Proserpine this morning from where you’ll be transferred by coach to Airlie Beach. This is the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands, and today, you’ll board a tall ship for a three-night cruise around these beautiful reef-fringed islands. Whilst onboard you’ll be able to help with the sails, or simply sit back, relax and enjoy yourself. With snorkelling at various anchor points, and diving a possibility, this is a lovely way to explore these islands in style.
Day 14: Airlie Beach The cruise returns to Airlie Beach today, where you’ll stay overnight, giving you the opportunity to enjoy this popular seaside resort.
Day 15: Cairns Back to the station early this morning for the onward journey by train to complete the journey north to Cairns.
This itinerary dovetails nicely with Tropical North Queensland if you’d like to explore the area surrounding Cairns.
Photographs courtesy of Tourism Australia
From Bargara, in the Bundaberg region, one can access the southern Great Barrier Reef. An area enjoying level 6 protection (level 3 in the north) the cooler waters make the coral colours more vibrant and the fish bigger. It is also known for loggerhead turtles.
Fraser Island Picture courtesy of Tourism Australia
Lady Elliot Island Picture Courtesy of Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort
Green Island Picture courtesy of Tourism Australia
Located on the east coast of Australia, Queensland is home to a huge number of beautiful, idyllic islands – some of which offer accommodation, making for a fantastic addition to any Australia holiday – time to relax, reflect or perhaps to explore the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef. Here, we have mentioned just some of the islands to consider off the coast of Queensland.
This is the largest sand island in the world, and is World Heritage listed. Access is by ferry from Hervey Bay, just a 3.5 hour drive north of Brisbane. With pristine beaches, lakes and rainforests growing in the sand, the island is best explored by small group four-wheel drive tours. There are no paved roads on the island but, rather uniquely, parts of the beach surrounding the island act as a ‘highway’ for the four wheel drive vehicles. Visit 75 Mile Beach, the Champagne Pools, Coloured Sands and Eli Creek. Between late July and early November whale watching cruises operate in search of humpback whales.
For many, the Whitsunday Islands bring to mind an image of a yacht sailing in crystal clear waters to beautiful white sandy beaches. Comprised of 74 islands, only a few of these offer accommodation, leaving many uninhabited and beautifully natural. Access is either by ferry from Airlie Beach on the mainland, or by flight into Hamilton Island with boat transfers from there. Hamilton Island, Hayman Island and Daydream Island are three of the key islands to consider for a stay. Alternatively, think about taking a multi-day cruise by yacht, tall ship or by motor boat. The southern part of the Great Barrier Reef can be visited from the Whitsundays by day trip.
Lady Elliot Island
This is the southernmost of the islands located within the Great Barrier Reef Marine National Park, and is a true coral cay. It is situated in a tidal lagoon, and one can simply walk into the ocean and begin snorkelling over the magnificent coral reef. You’ll also see abundant marine life and bird life. Access is by light aircraft (providing fantastic views of the reef on the approach) – the island is too remote for access by sea.
This island is another true coral cay, located right on the Great Barrier Reef – within the World Heritage Listed Marine National Park. It is perhaps best known as a significant nesting location for two turtle species – the Green Turtle and the Loggerhead Turtle. Viewing of the turtles during nesting and hatching is subject to strict guidelines, and generally begins in November. With beautifully white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, the snorkelling from here is fantastic. Access to Heron Island is by seaplane or by boat from Gladstone on the mainland.
This island is easily accessible from Cairns, located just forty five minutes away by boat. It can also be accessed by helicopter. It is one of the busier islands, and is in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Explore the reef by glass bottomed boat, or get up closer and snorkel or dive instead. Kayaking and windsurfing are readily available here as well as some walking tracks across the island.
This island is located in the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef. The island itself is a national park covering over 1000 hectares and with 24 beaches. A stay here is very much an exclusive and luxury experience, with access only by private charter flight from Cairns. The island is eco-certified, not only providing a research station for the Great Barrier Reef, but also providing guests with an education through nature walks and presentations.
Whichever island (or islands) of Queensland you choose to visit, you can be assured of an unforgettable experience – almost certainly a highlight of your tailor-made Australia holiday.
Heron Island Turtle Picture Courtesy of Tourism Australia
Visits to the Islands can easily be added to the beginning or end of your trip, but if you want to incorporate them part way through your itinerary, take a look at the links below for inspiration
Most of you will have, if not seen, heard of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series starring Johnny Depp. From the title of the films you would think that the films were shot in the Caribbean. For the first three films this was true, using places such as Jamaica, The Bahamas and Hawaii. But for the fifth film – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, filming finished last week in Queensland, Australia.
A lot of the filming was done at the Village Roadshow Studios, situated 45 minutes drive south of Brisbane International Airport. Some scenes were shot on location in Port Douglas, The Whitsundays and ‘The Spit’.
Port Douglas is a town in the north of Queensland, 40 miles north of Cairns. It is a great base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef, taking part in scuba diving/snorkelling and boat trips. Port Douglas is well known for its many walks, golf courses and five star restaurants. The best time to visit this part of Queensland is in the dry season – which runs from May through to October.
‘The Spit’, officially known as Southport Spit, can be found at the north end of MainBeach on the Gold Coast and is home to SeaWorld Resort. Some water bound scenes were filmed here but the location had to be moved to Raby Bay due to big swells causing cast and crew to suffer from sea sickness!
The Whitsundays are a group of islands situated off the coast of Queensland not far from the southern parts of the Great Barrier Reef. The best known of these islands are Hayman Island, Hamilton Island and Whitsunday Island itself. Some islands are no more than deserted areas of white sand. You can simply stay on Hamilton Island and enjoy the peace and quiet, join a cruise or get a bird’s eye view with a flight in a sea plane over the islands.
So if you want to follow in Johnny Depp’s footsteps call us on 01323 446550 or email email@example.com today to start planning your bespoke, tailor made Aussie adventure!
Explore Great Barrier Reef and the ancient Daintree Rainforest in this itinerary. ‘Beautiful one day – perfect the next’ more than adequately describes Tropical North Queensland
Tropical North Queensland
‘Beautiful one day – perfect the next’ more than adequately describes Tropical North Queensland and although travellers can and do visit year round, do beware that the months of December through to March are the wet season – you may get wet!
Day 1: Cairns Day 2: Cape Tribulation Day 3: Palm Cove Day 7: Return to Cairns
Day 1: Cairns Arrive in Cairns and collect hire car before heading north; the Captain Cook Highway soon reduces to a single carriageway, hugging the coast as it wends its way to Port Douglas. Spend two nights in Port Douglas, a pretty little town with an attractive marina, good shopping and home to the famous Iron Bar on Macrossan Street. Port Douglas 2 nights
Day 2: Cape Tribulation Take a full day drive north to the Daintree National Park and on to Cape Tribulation. See the perfect white sandy beaches as Captain Cook saw them many years before. Stop at the one of the many excellent boardwalk trails into the Rain Forest, or climb the observation tower giving you fabulous views over the canopy. Cape Tribulation 1 night
Day 3: Palm Cove Return south to Palm Cove for a further 3 nights. We suggest that on one of the days here you take a full day trip out on the Great Barrier Reef; your boat will take you to the pontoon for the opportunity to dive, snorkel or view this amazing living garden from underwater observation decks. See exotic fish of all colours and sizes. On the other full day take a trip on the Kuranda Skyrail, a gondola journey skimming you over the top of the rain forest canopy to Kuranda. You will see the Barron Falls and may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the railway on the other side of the valley. Palm Cove 3 nights
Day 7 Return to Cairns for your journey home or onward journey.
Photographs Copyright Australia Tourism
Hotels come and hotels go or change ownership, but the The Reef House in Palm Cove has remained one of our favourites for many years. Simple colonial elegance probably describes it best and the honesty bar is still as good as ever it was – we love it!
What our clients say
The end of the rainy season and the box jellyfish season in Tropical Queensland was not an issue. Virtually no rain and as we are not avid sea-bathers the ‘stingers’ (as they call them) didn’t bother us so we didn’t bother them, although we did notice some areas of beaches had an anti-stinger (and anti-shark) boom around them. We would have no hesitation in recommending all of the aspects of the itinerary and no hesitation in recommending you and your company. Thanks for a wonderful holiday.
Experience Holidays along with Destination Quebec are attending Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show, Olympia London, 29th January – 1st February 2015. This is the UK’s biggest and longest-running travel show.
Come along and visit us on stand AC12 to discuss your travel plans.
The vast country of Australia can be explored using various different means – by road, by air, by sea or by rail. Often, a combination of these is preferable, either to see more of the country in a limited timeframe, or to enjoy different experiences and landscapes along the way.
There are a number of iconic trains of Australia, which were built to transport goods as well as to provide a lifeline to many of the remote outback communities found there. Taking one or more of these rail journeys provides a chance to meet the locals, realise the sheer vastness of the country and to enjoy the varied and beautiful landscapes at leisure.
Originally named the ‘Afghan Express’, the route took its name from the migrant cameleers that created a trail into the Red Centre over 150 years ago. The first Ghan train departed from Adelaide in 1929, bound for Stuart (now called Alice Springs). In 1980, a new standard gauge rail track was opened alongside the now obsolete original narrow gauge track. In 2004, the link from Alice Springs to Darwin was completed, and it became possible to travel length of the country by rail. Taking three nights and four days, covering 2979 kilometres, the Ghan now runs from Darwin in the north of the country to Adelaide in the South. With stops in Katherine, Alice Springs and Coober Pedy it is possible to take the whole journey or just a section of it.
There are three key classes of travel to choose between – Red Service, Gold Service and Platinum Service. For those on a budget, Red Service offers a reclining seat and communal facilities. However, if the budget allows our recommendation would be to opt for Gold or Platinum Service. Gold Service offers a private cabin with upper and lower berths, en suite facilities, meals, selected drinks and off-train excursions included. Almost twice the size of the Gold Service Cabin, and in addition to the Gold inclusions, a Platinum Service Cabin provides ample space to relax in, double or twin beds, transfers at the start and end of your rail journey, in-cabin breakfast and access to the Platinum Lounge.
A journey on the Ghan can be easily combined with a self-drive itinerary between Adelaide and Melbourne (taking in Kangaroo Island, the Grampians and the Great Ocean Road), or from Alice Springs to Kings Canyon and Ayers Rock to explore the Red Centre.
Picture courtesy of Great Southern Rail
As the name suggest, this rail route links the Indian Ocean in the west with the Pacific Ocean in the east. The route began with two separate routes – one from Perth to Kalgoorlie and one from Port Augusta to Sydney but in order to improve accessibility to the remote colonies of the west, it was determined that a track be run between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta to complete the route. In 1917, the middle section was completed enabling the west and the east to be connected. Originally, passengers had to change train at least five times between Perth and Sydney due to different rail gauges but in 1969 this changed, and it was finally possible to travel from the breadth of the country uninterrupted. The Indian Pacific train took its first journey from Sydney in 1970. Taking three nights and four days, covering 4352 kilometres, the Indian Pacific runs from Perth in the west of the country to Sydney in the east. With stops in Kalgoorlie, Adelaide and Broken Hill en route, it is possible to take the whole journey or just a section of it.
As with the Ghan, the same three key classes of travel are available – Red Service, Gold Service and Platinum Service. A journey on the Indian Pacific works perfectly dove-tailed with a self-drive itinerary at either end, or perhaps alight in Adelaide and explore South Australia.
Picture courtesy of Great Southern Rail
In Queensland, there are a number of iconic train journeys to consider. These include:
The Spirit of Queensland runs from Brisbane to Cairns covering 1681 kilometres in 24 hours
The Tilt Train connects Brisbane with Bundaberg and Rockhampton, taking 4.5 hours for the former and 7.5 hours for the latter.
The Spirit of the Outback takes passengers from Brisbane to Longreach – connecting the coast with the outback. It covers 1325 kilometres in approximately 24-26 hours.
Other routes include The Westlander, The Inlander, The Kuranda Scenic Railway, The Gulflander and The Savannahlander. Whichever route you choose in Queensland, there are a number of classes of travel to choose from, as well as beautiful scenery to enjoy. These can be easily combined with a self-drive in Queensland or New South Wales.
In summary, Australia offers a fantastic range of beautiful rail journeys – to include one or more in your Australia holiday will enhance your experience and is easily combined with travel by road and by air.
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