NATURE AND WILDLIFE

World famous! 15 fabulous things to do in North Queensland

Townsville typifies the beauty and variety of North Queensland. Credit: Megan MacKinnon

Astonishing. Mesmerising. Jaw-dropping. Stunning.

You could just about chuck all the superlatives North Queensland’s way. This pristine patch explodes with epic attractions and adventures that make it a global superstar.

Where do you start? Well, we’ve rounded up a super selection of things to do in North Queensland, from bucket-listers to wallet-tamers.

Prepare to be inspired…

Mission Beach - one of many glorious stretches of sand in these parts.

1. Plant your footprints on postcard-perfect Whitehaven Beach

Paradise found. It’s abundantly clear why this gem has racked up countless ‘best beach’ awards. Join a boat tour to Whitsunday Island to marvel at the contrast of ridiculously white sand and sparkling turquoise, emerald, and azure waters – dazzling photo ops abound. Quite simply, a day trip here is one of the best things to do when in Airlie Beach.

Book now: BIG4 Whitsundays Tropical Eco Resort or BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort.

Postcard-perfect: Whitehaven Beach.

2. Witness the wonderful Wet Tropics area

This region is lucky to house two World Heritage attractions, including the Wet Tropics of Queensland area. At its southern edge is Paluma Range National Park, which is jam-packed with natural goodies. Aside from flourishing rainforest, Paluma Range features inviting swimming holes, beautiful waterfalls, and much more. Jourama Falls and rainforest-covered Mt Spec are headlining attractions.

Book now: BIG4 Rollingstone Beach Front Resort.

Green with envy: The Wet Tropics area is a photographer's dream.

3. Soak up majestic views atop Castle Hill

When it comes to what to do in Townsville, climbing Castle Hill is essential. This imposing granite monolith keeps watch over the city, and from its summit you’ll be treated to sensational panoramic vistas that showcase variable landscapes. Castle Hill is central, accessible by vehicle or on foot, and makes for pretty pics from its base, too. Note: prime viewing times are sunrise or sunset.

Book now: BIG4 Rowes Bay Beachfront Holiday Park, BIG4 Townsville Woodlands Holiday Park, or BIG4 Rollingstone Beach Front Resort.

Budget tip: Head to the top of Castle Hill. Credit: Megan MacKinnon

4. Be captivated by Barron Gorge National Park

Wow, just wow. Part of the Wet Tropics area, this popular national park teems with lush rainforest and rugged mountains as well as its signature attraction: Barron Falls. Particularly when furiously fast-flowing, these falls make for a truly spectacular sight and are best viewed from the recently opened Edge Lookout.

A signature North Queensland move is to hop on board the famous Kuranda Scenic Railway, which travels through the national park as it links Cairns with the village of Kuranda. Or witness all this blistering beauty from high above on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Whatever you choose, a day trip here is simply sensational.

Book now: BIG4 Cairns Crystal Cascades Holiday Park, BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Cairns Coconut Resort, or BIG4 NRMA Atherton Tablelands Holiday Park.

Barron not barren: Barron Gorge National Park bursts with treasure. Credit: Brad Newton

5. Share the sand with wallabies at Cape Hillsborough

Beach-loving wallabies and roos are icons of treasure-stuffed Cape Hillsborough National Park, and they’re not shy in front of the lens. Sunrise or thereabouts is the best time to spot these creatures from close range.

Inland from here, Eungella National Park provides a rare chance to spot platypus in the wild, although you’ll have to be at your eagle-eyed best!

Book now: BIG4 Mackay Blacks Beach Holiday Park or BIG4 Mackay Marine Tourist Park.

Close encounters with wildlife are a Cape Hillsborough specialty. Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland

6. Marvel at magical Paronella Park

There’s something particularly gripping about Paronella Park. Open to the public for more than 80 years, this award-winning attraction creates a sense of mystique and magic and a time-warp-like feeling. At its heart are ruins of an old castle located among gorgeous gardens and near flowing falls, and it’s all flanked by sprawling rainforest. So serene.

Book now: BIG4 Innisfail Mango Tree Tourist Park or BIG4 Beachcomber Coconut Holiday Park in Mission Beach.

Dream like: Paronella Park. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

7. Be dazzled along the Mamu Tropical Skywalk

Surround yourself in a sea of green from the most spectacular vantage points within glorious Wooroonooran National Park. A 350m-long elevated walkway gifts breathtaking views of World Heritage rainforest and is backed by a 30m-plus observation tower that allows for more magical photo ops. Additionally, a cantilever reveals wonderful vistas of the majestic North Johnstone river gorge.

Book now: BIG4 Innisfail Mango Tree Tourist Park, BIG4 NRMA Atherton Tablelands Holiday Park, or BIG4 Beachcomber Coconut Holiday Park (South Mission Beach).

The views are exceptional from the Mamu Tropical Skywalk. Credit: Mamu Tropical Skywalk

8. Head back 40,000 years at Tjapukai Cultural Park

Prepare for an authentic and wide-ranging insight into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Tjapukai retraces these rich cultures through engrossing live performances and dance as well as arts and native bush food. Exciting interactive experiences include painting, weaving, and learning to throw a spear or boomerang.

And the evening Night Fire show is sure to dazzle, making Tjapukai one of the best things to do in Cairns.

Book now: BIG4 Cairns Crystal Cascades Holiday Park or BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Cairns Coconut Resort.

Tjapukai Cultural Park allows for a wonderful glimpse into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

9. Check out Australia’s highest waterfall – Wallaman Falls

List tickers unite. A trip to Girringun National Park is essential, as it’s home to the highest permanent single-drop waterfall in Australia. Cascading a whopping 268m, Wallaman Falls makes for a breathtaking sight that photos often don’t do justice. Better yet, Girringun is also part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, so expect an array of majestic scenery.

Book now: BIG4 Beachcomber Coconut Holiday Park, South Mission Beach.

Great heights: Wallaman Falls.

10. Soak up colourful history in Charters Towers or Mackay

History abounds in North QLD and makes for fascinating exploration. Retrace Charters Towers’ exciting gold-rush past with ease: grand buildings like the Stock Exchange Arcade and the World Theatre dominate the streetscape. Or visit the quirky Venus Gold Battery or The Miner’s Cottage.

Meanwhile, Mackay is dotted with a dozen-plus striking art deco structures that easily catch the eyes: Chaseley House and the Australian Hotel are among highlights. It can all be admired on a self-guided walk, and maps are available.

Book now: BIG4 Aussie Outback Oasis Holiday Park (Charters Towers) or BIG4 Mackay Blacks Beach Holiday Park or BIG4 Mackay Marine Tourist Park.

Charters Towers' streetscape is filled with charm. Credit: Courtesy Charters Towers Regional Council

11. Explore the famous Great Barrier Reef

When it comes to what to do in North Queensland, visiting this World Heritage wonder instantly springs to mind. This is the largest coral reef on the planet, and it boasts an astounding assortment of exquisite marine life, corals, and so much more.

Naturally, diving and snorkelling are popular activities in these parts, but visitors can also stay dry and still be mesmerised by scenery on the likes of glass-bottom boat tours or scenic flights. And with hundreds of islands within the Great Barrier Reef, alongside a wealth of access points, its appeal is immense. Bucket-list material.

Explore more: Great Barrier Reef touring route.

Smile, mate, this is the Great Barrier Reef. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

12. Be captivated by Daintree National Park

Another member park of the Wet Tropics World Heritage area, the Daintree is an Australian icon. Within its mammoth reaches is the oldest-surviving tropical rainforest on earth.

Two key sections are ripe for exploring: Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation, and both emit beauty of epic proportions. The gorge is highlighted by the crystal-clear waters of Mossman River and is flanked by rainforest while Cape Tribulation blends this sprawling rainforest with sparkling beaches.

Book now: BIG4 Port Douglas Glengarry Holiday Park, BIG4 Cairns Crystal Cascades Holiday Park, or BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Cairns Coconut Resort.

Captivating: Daintree National Park. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

13. Dive one of Australia’s best wrecks

The story of how the SS Yongala wreck came to be is a gripping yarn filled with mystery, drama, and intrigue: Learn more at the Maritime Museum of Townsville. Nowadays, it is one of the nation’s best shipwreck dives. SS Yongala is incredibly intact, attracts a wealth of marine life, and is within easy access from Alva Beach near Ayr.

While in the area, check out the landmark Burdekin River Bridge, which links Ayr and Home Hill. Or enjoy excellent fishing opportunities in the Burdekin River in and around Ayr.

Book now: BIG4 Ayr Silver Link Caravan Village.

The SS Yongala wreck is popular with marine creatures, too.

14. Day trip to magical Magnetic Island

Of all the things to do in Townsville, hopping on a 20min ferry ride to reach jewel-laden Magnetic Island is a must. Glorious and oft-secluded beaches, funky rock formations, wildlife including rock wallabies and koalas, and historical finds are among its bounty of treasure. A host of water-based leisure options include swimming, fishing, sailing, snorkelling, and diving.

Book now: BIG4 Townsville Woodlands Holiday Park, BIG4 Rowes Bay Beachfront Holiday Park, or BIG4 Rollingstone Beach Front Resort.

Magnetising by name and nature: Magnetic Island.

15. Take a Texas Longhorn wagon tour

Head back to the days of the ‘Old West’ at Leahton Park, just a short drive from Charters Towers. Here, you’ll find Australia’s largest purebred herd of Texas Longhorns, and with one look at these mighty creatures it’s clear why they are so named.

A horse-drawn wagon ride or ranger safari are excellent ways to learn all about these fascinating animals, and there’s plenty more to see at the farm. Tours generally operate from May-September.

Book now: BIG4 Aussie Outback Oasis Holiday Park.

Wild west: A Texas Longhorn wagon tour will enthrall. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland/Melissa Findley

What attraction or activity is on your north QLD bucket list? Or what have you experienced in the region that’s worth sharing? We’d love to read your thoughts, so please leave a comment below.

Isn’t it time you had a North Queensland escape? Book your BIG4 break now.

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