It’s not just the mercury that’s going north. Australia’s Queensland is heating up with a bucket list of ways to get your sunshine fix. From new hotels to emerging destinations and good old-fashioned holiday classics, we’ve got six holiday hits to get your 2019 Hot List covered.
1. Booming Brisbane
Brisbane has 2.6 million residents. It’s not big. It’s not small. Just like Goldilocks, it’s just right, especially now that a succession of blockbuster hotels, (nine and counting see here) unusual tours, and a degustation of vibrant food joints have opened. At the tippy top of our Hot List is Howard Smith Wharves, a lifestyle precinct born from three hectares of abandoned riverfront land that now boasts dining joints featuring cuisine from around the world, all with box office views to the Story Bridge. As if that’s not enough, HSW – as it’s dubbed – is also ground zero for a chic Art Series Hotel set to open in March.
2. A Royally Fit Fraser Island
If it’s good enough for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, then Fraser Island is good enough for our 2019 Hot List. Ever since the royal visit in October this year, the FOMO factor has gone gangbusters and a stay at Kingfisher Bay Resort, the crowning jewel in the world’s largest sand island, is high on everyone’s bucket list. Experience Lake Mackenzie, the perched lake visited by Prince Harry and then nab some stunning wall art by resident photographer and island guide, Peter Meyer. Peter’s rainforest print was gifted to the royal couple.
3. Dreamtime At Cooktown And The Cape
History meets the highway! 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s visit and the opening of a bitumen highway all the way from Cooktown to Queensland’s northernmost tip. For those who want the romance of the rugged red track, 2019 is your last chance (unless you venture off the main road). That’s one reason why Cooktown is high on our Hit List. Another is the pivotal role Cooktown played in Australia’s history. In June 1770, Cook and his crew spent more than seven weeks moored on the banks of the Endeavour River repairing their vessel. During this time Cook noted six encounters with the Guugu Yimithirr people, including one incident diarised as an act of reconciliation. Was it Australia’s first? Today, Cooktown is a thriving community with a raft of tourism activities anchored around that historic visit including some of the most incredible Indigenous experiences. Join Guurrbi Tours and walk with Nugal-warra Elder Willie Gordon through a dramatic landscape to an ancestral Birth Site, overnight on country to the Magnificent Gallery with Jarramali Rock Art Tours or jump in a 4WD for a four and a half hour tour to Emu Dreaming and Giant Wallaroo with Steve Tresize, the foremost guide in rock art with Jowalbinna Rock Art Walks. For an aquatic venture, clock up the same views as Captain James Cook and listen to the tales of pioneers and pearlers with Riverbend Tours before stopping at the James Cook Museum.
4. Grape Expectations At The Granite Belt
Mike Hays, the chief winemaker from Granite Belt’s Symphony Hill, surprised the big names down south In November 2017 by taking out the national winemaker of the year award. Six months later, ARIA Brisbane was crowned with the best wine list in the country thanks to the little known but highly impressive wines from the Granite Belt. That’s enough to get Stanthorpe and the picturesque Granite Belt with its Strange Bird Wine Trail on next year’s Hot List.
5. Nature At Noosa Everglades
Deep dive into a real-life David Attenborough documentary with the Noosa Everglades. Twenty-five minutes’ drive north of Noosa, two biospheres – the Noosa Biosphere and the Great Sandy Biosphere – sit side by side dishing up nature by the kayak full with rainforests, beaches, woodlands, mountains and a raft of native plants and animals. Thanks to the transformation of a once-daggy campground, visitors can now stay at Habitat Noosa, a world-class eco site with glamping tents and powered and unpowered sites overlooking 500 metres of Lake Cootharaba frontage. The eco-resort is also home to a cruisy craft brewery and cool café serving locally brewed coffee. Just a few reasons to make it to our Hot List!
6. Time Out(back) with a Station Stay
Australia’s DNA runs through its Outback Stations and travellers can now experience the rugged back country, lazy blue skies, and hard-working cattle hands with a smidge of comfort thanks to three new-ish working stations. Our Hot List for station stays include:
- Mount Mulligan Lodge: 170kms west of Cairns lies in the shadow of a spectacular 18 kilometre sandstone ridge (ten times larger than Uluru). This 28,000 hectare outback property will soft open in December with 12 luxury suites and villas all with majestic views of the 400m high cliff face.
- Kinrara Expeditions: Tapping into 270 generations of Gugu Badhun creation stories, Kinrara Expeditions is a five-day, four-night outback Queensland adventure four hours south west of Cairns. Operating from the 70,000-acre MacEacherns Camp cattle station, each tour takes up to 12 guests staying in one of 10 low impact double tents with enchanting views of the Burdekin River.
- Shandonvale Station: Get a a hands-on insight to life on the land at this working cattle station located on the clay pans of Aramac creek, a 90 minute drive from Longreach. The 100 year old shearing quarters have been fully restored with four Queen size bedrooms and an endless list of outback adventures from sunset tours to riding shot gun in a helicopter.
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Author: Shelley Winkel Tourism and Events Queensland
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