Queensland serves up Some booming new attractions
Reefs Islands and Beaches
Dive the ex-HMAS Tobruk, Bundaber/Hervey Bay (February 2019): Lying metres below the surface in the Great Sandy Marine Park on the edge of the Southern Great Barrier Reef, the former amphibious heavy lift ship once belonging to the Royal Australian Navy is now an artificial reef, rich in sea life, suitable for a world-class dive site. Scuttled in June 2018 and opened for diving on February 25, 2019, divers can experience enjoy the rapid colonisation of marine species living around the ship plus sub-tropical fish darting in and out of the hull’s nooks and crannies.
YOT Club, Gold Coast (March 2019): In another coup for the Gold Coast, the world’s first superyacht lifestyle entertainment venue, YOT Club, launched in March, delivering the ultimate luxury superyacht experience. Licensed for 400 guests, and coming in at 40 metres long, 22 metres wide and with options for sit down dining and live music events, this is the ultimate venue on water for private or corporate functions, product launches or ticketed events. https://yotclub.com.au/
Sunset & Stargazing, Port Douglas (September 2018): Long known for the Hollywood stars that grace its beaches and resorts, Port Douglas has put the stars of the celestial kind under the spotlight with the launch of a Sunset and Stargazing Cruise. Departing from Port Douglas Marina twice a week, the two-hour expedition journeys along the Dickson Inlet while trained guides tell tales of the rise and fall of Port – the Goldrush, the sugar, the cyclones, the myths, the characters, and the Dreamtime – as licensed military grade lasers power up to point out the sky’s cosmic wonders. Tours leave Mondays and Thursdays and cost $50 per child and $80 per adult. http://bluedive.com.au/stargazing/
Museum of Underwater Art, Townsville (August 2019): Artistic installations, involving sculptured works placed on the seafloor near the Strand will provide a visual, emotional and physical experiences for visitors to Townsville when the first site featuring Jason de Caires Taylor, the world’s foremost underwater sculptor is installed this August. http://www.moua.com.au/
Adventure and Discovery Packages
Kinrara Expeditions, Tropical North Queensland (July 2018): 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 invites a small group of 12 guests into a low impact double tent with enchanting views of the Burdekin River. www.kinraraexpeditions.com
Self-drive Kite Surfing, Cape York (January 2019): Australian Kite Surfari, located on an isolated beach between Cape Bedford and Cape Flattery one hour north of Cooktown, have launched new packages to their permanent off-the-grid eco kite surfing camp. Guests can sign up for self-drive packages and drive from Cairns to kite surf in one of the best locations in Australia and stay in any one of the eight beach front cabins made from poly water tanks. Operating for eleven years, the new packages are more economical for travellers: https://www.australiankitesurfari.com.au/
Mary Valley Rattler picnic package, Sunshine Coast (February 2019): After years of meticulous craftmanship, the Mary Valley Rattler heritage steam train has been restored to its former glory, relaunching to the public in late 2018. New to the Rattler this year is the introduction of ‘Retro Fridays': a journey on board their 1960’s Silver Bullet railmotor with complimentary breakfast or lunch at the Platform No. 1 Café and the Mary Valley Picnic Train, a new lunchtime service onboard their ‘Red Rocket’ with guests provided with gourmet picnic hampers and a bottle of bubbles to enjoy throughout the journey. https://www.maryvalleyrattler.com.au/
Barramundi Discovery Centre, Karumba (Opens April 2019): Keen anglers can discover the secrets of Australia’s most acclaimed iconic fish at The Les Wilson Barramundi Discovery Centre, the only hatchery in the world to breed the Southern Gulf strain of barramundi. This new multi-million dollar facility, opening in April, offers one hour informative tours of the life of barramundi at Karumba, one the shore of Gulf of Carpentaria in North Queensland. https://www.barracentre.com.au/
Old Mary Kathleen Mine Tours, Mary Kathleen (September 2018): North West Tours’ new four-hour tour to the deserted township of Mary Kathleen and its old uranium mine which at its closing caused the demise of the bustling little town. Get picked up by your North West Tours guide in Mt Isa and adventure through the eerie mine and look at its cemented remains. A four-hour tour, including morning tea, starts from $119 per person. W: https://northwesttours.com.au/tour/old-mary-kathleen-uranium-mine-4-hour-interpretive-tour-2/
Daintree Air Scenic Flights, Cooktown (January 2019): Daintree Air, based out of Cooktown are offering scenic flights over the Great Barrier Reef to Lizard Island and Cape York. Multi-engine planes depart Cairns at 08:00 am and fly at a low level above the World-heritage listed rainforests and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park before landing on Lizard Island for six hours of exploration. www.daintreeair.com.au/index.html.
Gone Fishing, Cooktown (January 2019): Tropical North Queensland will hook serious anglers with the one, three and five day Gone Fishing packages based out of Cooktown. Try the Three Rivers Fishing Tour and fly or live bait for barramundi, mangrove jack, trevally and queenfish in the Endeavour, Anan and Bloomfield rivers. Cost is AUD $2600 per person based on two people http://fishingcooktown.com/packages/
People, Lifesyle and Culture
Culture Connect Tours, Cooktown (2018): Join Balngarrawarra guides as they reconnect with their land on a half day tour that reveals exquisite rock art rarely been seen by outsiders. Discover traditional food and medicine and learn about the colourful history of Normanby Station. https://cultureconnect.com.au/tours-departing-cooktown/
Jowalbinna Rock Art Walks, Laura (2018): Located one hour south west of the town of Laura, and accessed only by 4WD, Steve Trezise is a foremost guide in rock art and anthropology and has been continuing the role of Percy Trezise, who first began exploring and recording Quinkan art since 1960. Take the Emu Dreaming and Giant Wallaroo, a 4.5hrs tour for $75pp (kids free) www.jowalbinna.com.au/
Jarramali Rock Art Tours, Laura (2018): Take a day tour or camp overnight on country with Jarramali Rock Art tours. Departing from Cairns, the tours highlight the Indigenous people’s connection to the land focusing on plants used traditionally for bush tucker and medicinal purposes. The tour will take you to Magnificent Gallery off the Laura-Maytown Coach Road. See the pick axe marks where the old timers forged the coach road and an old Cobb and Co staging post. www.jarramalirockarttours.com.au/
New Precincts in Brisbane
Howard Smith Wharves, Brisbane (November 2018): The link between New Farm and Brisbane’s booming inner city finally connected when Howard Smith Wharves’ opened late last year, dishing up 2.7 hectares of green space beside an expansive brewery (named after the four convicts to first discover the city) and a raft of gastronomic venues. Rising from an abandoned industrialised area first built in 1935 to offer relief work during the Great Depression, the $200 million project is part of a large-scale vision to transform Brisbane into a world-class tourism, recreation and lifestyle destination. Culinary highlights that cosy up under the broad shoulders of the iconic Story Bridge include: Mr Percivals, a 600-metre square octagon shaped outdoor bar, Stanley, a Hong Kong-inspired restaurant housed in a two-storey, 1930s heritage-listed former water-police building, GRECA, a modern interpretation of the Greek taverna, Felons Brewing Co., a 500-seat wholesale and retail brewery and Arc Dining, a restaurant headed up by talented Alana Sapwell with interiors designed by Brisbane local, Anna Spiro. The centrepiece of the new precinct is Rivershed, a former heritage wharf building re-engineered into a flexible event space with giant glass windows offering uninterrupted views of the river and Story Bridge and space for up to 1000 visitors.
Here on the same grounds, carved into the cliff under the iconic Story Bridge, Art Series Hotels have opened the doors to The Fantauzzo its eighth art inspired hotel. A masterful blend of architecture, nature and art inspired by acclaimed Australian painter, Vincent Fantauzzo, the stunning six-storey and 166 suite hote enjoys breathtaking views of the Brisbane River and CBD. IMAGERY: https://bit.ly/2TSxjdf
Queen’s Wharf, Brisbane (opening 2022): Queen’s Wharf is a $3.6 billion integrated tourism and leisure centre sandwiched between a row of heritage buildings and the expansive Brisbane River. Expected to open in 2022, Queens Wharf will transform 26 hectares of land thanks to more than 100 additional hotel rooms, 2000 apartments, a 100m high Skydeck, one new pedestrian bridge across the river and a ballroom to seat 1000 pax. It’s also forecast to attract 1.4 million additional guests.
New Turtle Centre, Bundaberg (to open 2019): After more than four decades serving nature lovers with the ultimate Nat Geo style close up turtle encounters, Bundaberg will launch a multi-million dollar new turtle centre to a year-round visitor experience with a focus on its conservation efforts. https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/parks/mon-repos/turtle-centre.html
Natural Encounters – Hiking
Trekwest young man, Mt Isa (2018): Calling all adventurers! Follow founder Shelley Hawkins as she takes you on a tour across the north western pocket of Outback Queensland – on foot. Small group tours depart from Mt Isa and take on multi-day hikes, covering at least 20km of outback landscape each day, with food, beverages, and tent equipment supplied. https://trekwesthiking.com.au/
Walk the rabbit board fence, Killarney (2018): A Southern Queensland Country mountain trail dubbed by one happy hiker as “a time traveller’s journey through ancient forests in the footsteps of pioneers and graziers.” Starting near Killarney, the hike follows the historic Rabbit Board Fence for 35km to the foothills of Wilson’s Peak and includes a night camping on Farmer Mal’s property and one night in Spring Creek Mountain Cottages. www.horizonguides.com.au/item/284-spring-creek-mountain-trail
Blue Lakes Hike, K’gari/Fraser Island, (September 2018): Ticking off five of the island’s most beautiful freshwater lakes over a three-day, two-night, self-guided, fully supported trail, the Blue Lake Hike includes 4WD transfers to the daily starting point, luggage transfers, and a daily hosted arrival that also comes with a pre-pitched campsite and a hearty meal. Prices start from $650 per person for four to six people, and $850 per person for two people www.fraserislandhiking.com/glamping-hiker.html