Queensland is Australia's holiday state. You're certain to find something to suit your taste, whether you prefer glossy, neon-lit Surfers Paradise, long deserted beaches, the island resorts and excellent diving of the Great Barrier Reef, or remote national parks.
area: 1,727,200 sq km
population: 3,196,900 people (1995)
density of population: 1.85 people per sq km
Brisbane, the state capital, is an increasingly lively city. In the north, Cairns is a busy travellers centre and base for a whole range of side trips and activities. Between Brisbane and Cairns there are strings of towns and islands, offering virtually every pastime you can imagine connected with the sea. Inland, several spectacular national parks are scattered over the ranges and between the isolated towns and cattle stations.
North of Cairns, the Cape York Peninsula remains a wilderness against which people still test themselves. You can get an easy taste of this frontier in Cooktown, Australia's first British settlement and once a riotous goldrush town. Just inland from Cairns is the lush Atherton Tableland with countless beautiful waterfalls and scenic spots.
Queensland has a series of distinct regions, generally running parallel to the coast. First there is the coastal strip - the basis for the booming tourist trade. Along this strip there are beaches, bays, islands and, of course, the Great Barrier Reef. Much of the coastal region is green and productive with lush rainforests, endless fields of sugar cane and stunning national parks.
Next comes the Great Dividing Range, the mountain range that continues down through New South Wales and Victoria. The mountais come closest to the coast in Queensland and are most spectacular in the far north, near Cairns, and in the far south.
Then there are the tablelands - areas of flat agricultural land that run to the west in the south where the Darling Downs have some of the most productive grain-growing land in Australia.
Finally there's the vast inland area, the barren outback fading into the Northern Territory. Rain can temporarily make this desert bloom but basically it's an area of long empty roads and tiny settlements.
The Queensland seasons are more a case of hotter and wetter or cooler and drier than of summer and winter. November/December to April/May is the wetter, hotter half of the year, while the real Wet, particularly affecting northern coastal areas, is January to March. Queensland doesn't really get 'cold weather', except at night inland or upland from about May to September. Inland, of course, there's also a lot less rain than near the coast.
source: lonely planet travel survival kit, Australia
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