Thursday, September 8, 2016

Guest post: The curious case of Queensland

Queensland has such a dizzying variety of experiences that there is no one way to describe it. From wildlife to marine life, night life to culture, beaches to rainforests, this Australian State has it all. And, last but in no way the least, it is home to the Great Barrier Reef; the largest World Heritage site, and the only one that can be seen from outer space. Here are some of my favourite moments in the State.

Cuddle a koala
I know, I know… I speak about all these brilliant contrasts, and then I start with a marsupial! But the warm feeling that rushes through when you get to cuddle one of these fur balls is hard to describe - even though their claws dig in while they hang on to you for dear life! At the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, about an hour’s drive from Gold Coast’s Surfers Paradise, you can cuddle a Koala, pet the kangaroos, feed the emus, and even zip line over the open areas!

A change of scenery
In stark contrast to the popular beaches of Gold Coast, is a rainforest region tucked away a small distance from the coastal city in Mount Tambourine. A 4-wheel drive vehicle picks you up from the hotel, and drives you out to the rainforest, and you find yourself on a half day tour through nature that has stood the test of time, and whose significance to the Australian Aboriginals opens your eyes to their culture.

Soar High
Ever woken up at 2am while on holiday? Can’t imagine you’d want to. I sure didn’t! But then I was taken for a ride that made sleep unimportant! A car ambles into your hotel’s driveway at 3am, drives you out to an airfield where the pilot fires up the hot air machine(or whatever the technical term for it is), and helps you into a big basket, and then takes you off on the ride of a lifetime! As the Hot Air Balloon rises, so does the sun, giving you one of the most spectacular sunrise views you will ever see. If that wasn’t splendid enough, peak over the side of the basket, and you may just be treated to the sight of kangaroos peering curiously up at the balloon, or hopping about, content in their natural habitat.

Dive in! 
I thought it only fitting to follow a tale of air and sun with one of the sea. Cairns in Queensland’s Tropical North is home to The Great Barrier Reef, and the starting port for the Reef Cruises. There are various ways to experience the Reef, each more exhilarating than the last. Take a scenic heli flight over the Reef, snorkel through the magnificent marine life, dive into the deep blue sea, or get up close to the various fish in the waters during a seabed walker experience.

Less than 30 minutes from Cairns is the Kuranda rainforest village, home to a great rainforest experience, as well as a host of Aboriginal activities. Take a skyrail cable car and soar over rainforest thickets to get to the other side for a day full of activities. On the way, hop off and get a glimpse of a magnificent waterfall and take a guided walk through the rainforest on the way. Once on the other side, hop into an army duck and take a tour of the rainforest through land and water, while the guide points out the curious plants and creatures that call the rainforest their home. Then meet the aboriginals who try and teach you their way of life, from spear and boomerang throwing lessons to Didgeridoo demonstrations. Judging from my tries at these activities, I am not entering their fold any time soon! 

At the end of the day, board the Kuranda scenic rail, a heritage train that trudges at a leisurely pace through the rainforest on the way back to Cairns, and leaves you wanting more of the scenery.

Not just child’s play
I cannot wrap up a piece about Queensland without talking about Gold Coast’s theme parks. The unofficial theme park capital of the country keeps the child in you alive like no other. You can have Superman push you out of harm’s way on a roller coaster in Warner Brothers Movie World or get propelled backwards at a dizzying speed on the Tower of Terror in DreamWorld. Water parks, petting zoos, photo opportunities – you can enjoy it all! Even cuddle a Koala! (yes, I did it twice!) Enjoy a day on the rides, and spend your evening at the Australian Outback Spectacular, a re-enactment of the cowboy culture in the Australian Outback, right from the large cowboy hat handed out at the entrance, to the horseback stunts the show has aplenty.

In the city
Cairns city is a quiet beachside town that lazes around all evening before retiring early. But there is one impressive bit I can’t not talk about. The promenade, all lit up at night, has lovely picnic tables laid out, with electric barbeque pits set up, all free to use! So, while in Cairns, a picnic in the evening should definitely feature in your plans.

Gold Coast, in stark contrast, stays up late, parties hard, and has long stretches of beachside roads peppered with bars you cannot just walk past! Another delightful sight at then promenades are the cycle rickshaw drivers, all dressed as superheroes (you can’t make this stuff up) ready to ferry kids around!

If you happen to be there on a day that the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Market is set up, a stroll through these stalls is a must do to pick up the attractive trinkets and accessories that make for the perfect gifts for friends and family. After all, loved ones deserve more than bags from the airport souvenir shops, don’t you agree?

Maansi Sharma got fed up of all the free food and booze so she decided to leave journalism behind and earn more money to fuel her gadget obsession. If you enjoy LOTR/Harry Potter or similar trivia or have some technology-related query, you can contact her at

Read her earlier post Simply Sydney here.

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