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15 Undiscovered Gems In Queensland That Even Locals May Not Have Experienced

I literally cannot believe there's a Spanish Castle in Queensland.

As the summer season is upon us, it's almost time for some much needed R&R. And if you're a Queenslander, there's no better place to explore than your own backyard.

Here are 15 unique experiences to do in Queensland this summer.

1. Rent an entire island with a dozen of your mates.

Tourism and Events Queensland

If you've ever dreamed of having a whole tropical island to yourself, now's your chance — grab a bunch of mates and rent out Pumpkin Island. Nestled in the Southern Great Barrier Reef’s Keppel islands, which is 14 kilometres off the coast of Yeppoon, the Pumpkin Island Eco Resort accommodates up to 34 guests — which is perfect for a long weekend away with your nearest and dearest.

Pumpkin Island is also Australia's first and only carbon-positive inhabited island, which amazingly offsets 150% of its annual carbon emissions — so you'll feel good about spending your hard-earned dollars here!

2. Watch the turtles hatch on Heron Island.

Mark Fitz / Tourism and Events Queensland

It's a big claim but I'm calling it: One of the most magical experiences you can have in Queensland — and probably in your life — is watching the turtles hatch on the beach. The best place to catch the action? On the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

If you fancy making a trip of it, head straight to Heron Island. Between December and April, jump on a Turtle Adventure and get up-close-and-personal with baby turtles as you help them make their way into the ocean.

And don't worry, the tours are lead by qualified naturalists who ensure the turtles stay safe and the whole experience is performed ethically.

3. Swim in the waterhole underneath Booloumba Creek Falls.

Tourism and Events Queensland

Situated in the idyllic Conondale National Park, Booloumba Creek Falls is the perfect place to cool down on a hot summer's day. Located about two and a half hours north west of Brisbane — or about an hour twenty southwest of Noosa — the 3km round stroll through ancient rainforests will lead you to this crystal-clear plunge pool.

If you're a keen hiker, this area also marks the beginning of a four day, 56km hike through the Conondale Range.

4. Learn about local Aboriginal culture with Walkabout Cultural Adventures.

@walkaboutculturaladventures / Via

To discover the indigenous history and culture behind some of Queensland's most iconic natural spots, take a Walkabout Cultural Adventures tour. Led by local Aboriginal guides, explore Kuku Yalanji country, which encapsulates parts of the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

In these full or half day tours, you'll learn about local flora and fauna, swim in freshwater streams and taste bush tucker — including indulging in delicious mud crabs, cooked on an open fire by the clear waters of a rainforest stream.

5. Stroll through the colourful Kuranda Markets.

@elisarqs / Via

If you love arts, crafts and delicious plant-based foods, you need to head on up to Kuranda. Located about half an hour from Cairns, this mountain town is oozing with chilled out, hippie vibes and their markets are no exception. Stroll through the colourful laneways and discover organic soaps, vegan curries and eclectic fashion in this one-of-a-kind destination.

If you want the complete Kuranda experience, be sure to jump onboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway, which runs twice daily to and from Cairns. This breathtaking voyage winds up and down the mountain, over rivers and through the lush rainforest.

6. Visit the Spanish Castle at Paronella Park.

@dimpu004 / Via

It might surprise you to find out that there's a Spanish-style castle located about an hour and a half south of Cairns, but this unique destination is definitely worth the visit. Built by José Paronella, who migrated from Catalonia to Australia in the 20th century, this castle is situated in the middle of the Queensland bush and surrounded by beautiful gardens. It's the perfect spot for a summer picnic with your mates and a snap for the 'gram.

7. Go paddle boarding at Cobbold Gorge.

Tourism and Events Queensland

If you've never visited outback Queensland, put this experience on the very top of your bucket list. Located about six hours from Cairns, Cobbold Gorge is one of the youngest in the state — at a spritely 10,000 years old! Surrounded by red dessert sands and orange rock formations, this location is sure to take your breath away.

This narrow savannah is best traversed with a kayak or paddle board, so get the gang together, fill the boot with camping gear and your vessel of choice and spend a few days surrounded by nature.

8. Go abseiling at the Glass House Mountains.

Tourism and Events Queensland

You may have hiked the Glass House Mountains, but have you ever aseiled down them? Surrounded by pine plantations, volcanic peaks, eucalypt forests and open fields, there's no better way to explore this incredible natural region than on an abseiling adventure.

9. Share a cheese platter at the bottom of the largest single drop waterfall in Australia.

Tourism and Events Queensland

For the ultimate girl's day out, go chasing waterfalls and head straight to Wallaman Falls in the Girringun National Park. Only 2 hours north of Townsville, this tropical park is perfect for hiking, camping and barbeques with the gang.

If you're keen to pick up some delicious small goods for the journey, swing by Lou's Deli in Ingham. Just try to walk out with only one wheel of cheese, I dare you!

10. Splash out and do the Heart Island Experience.

Tourism and Events Queensland

An icon of the stunning Whitsunday Islands, Heart Island is the heart-shaped land mass located deep in the Great Barrier Reef. If you want to explore this beautiful place, you have to book the Heart Island Experience. Departing from Hamilton Island's Qualia Resort, you and up to five friends will be helicoptered over to the Heart Island pontoon — which is essentially a private, floating slice of heaven you can book for the day.

Did I mention that champagne, canapes and a glass-bottom boat await your arrival? Sign me up.

11. Dine under the canopy of the Daintree at Flames of the Forest.

@flamesoftheforest / Via

If you're into fine dining, Flames of the Forest needs to be crossed off your bucket list immediately. Located in the heart of the Daintree in the Port Douglas region, this intimate, candle-lit experience is one for the books. Indulge in unique and delicious tropics-inspired menu, while sitting under a black silk canopy surrounded by sparkling, handmade crystal and bud light chandeliers.

Flames of the Forest also offers two distinct experiences: A deep dive into Aboriginal culture through music and storytelling, or a romantic rainforest experience, set to the sounds of an acoustic guitar.

This unique experience is set to reopen in April 2021, so start planning ahead!

12. Cool off at Byfield National Park.

Tourism and Events Queensland

If you're itching to go camping, put hiking Byfield National Park on your summer to-do list. With everything from hiking trails to fishing spots, ocean beaches to crystal clear lagoons, there's something for everyone at this little slice of paradise located just north of Rockhampton.

13. Eat too much at Daintree Ice Cream Company.

@daintreeicecream / Via

Ice cream with a view? Yes please. Located in the heart of the Daintree in the Cape Tribulation region, the Daintree Ice Cream Company whips up delicious artisen flavours using organic, tropical fruit grown in their orchards.

Chow down on flavours like plum, mango, wattleseed and jackfruit. Yum!

14. Go bungy jumping with a BMX bike.

@ajhackettcairns / Via

Thrill seekers and adrenaline junkees, Cairns is where you need to go to get your fix. AJ Hackett is the only bungy jumping destination in the world where you can ride off into the abyss on the back of a BMX bike!

If you're not game enough for that, you can do a standard bungy jump or take it easy on the Giant Swing.

15. And finally, camp under the stars on Whitehaven Beach.

Tourism and Events Queensland

It's one of the most famous beaches in the world and now's the best time to make the most of it. This summer, grab some friends, pack a backpack and get ready to sleep under the stars on a white sand beach.

If you want the freedom of exploring the local area at your own pace, charter a boat from Airlie Beach, bring some fishing lines and a kayak and enjoy a weekend full of water activities.

Travel is looking a little different this year, but luckily for us, Queensland is open for business. Discover the variety of world-class experiences in Queensland this summer!