Around the world without a visa
It's been the year of the ‘staycation’ with 4.7 million Queenslanders (up 3%) holidaying at home over the year to September 2011.
This summer, leave the passport at home and take a holiday in Queensland that dishes up all the exoticism of an overseas trip without the worry.
Queensland has some hidden gems that are doppelgangers for glamorous international locations. Best yet, none require a visa or a long-haul flight in cattle class!
Forget Africa, head to Cairns or the Sunshine Coast instead for a fully fledged wildlife experience. The ‘Breakfast with the Beasts’ at the Cairns Wildlife Safari Reserve will dish up morning muesli with a pride of lions and all at a fraction of the price of an airfare to Cape Town.
Alternatively, with the arrival of baby rhino Savannah, three new zebra and an African giraffe, nature lovers can tick off three of the ‘big five’ from the comfort of a Safari Shuttle at Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast.
If exotic is what you are after, but you can’t afford the $5000 flight to the Antarctic, check out Seaworld on the Gold Coast instead. Everyone knows about their polar bear exhibit, but the penguin encounter allows guests to walk on ice and hand feed metre-high emperor penguins before they scoot off on an underwater foraging adventure.
Trade a sailing trip in Greece for the Whitsundays where an archipelago of 74 magical islands awaits. With the same climate and landscape as Hawaii, the Whitsunday Islands’ lush, emerald tipped mountains are surrounded by glorious deserted beaches and warm, turquoise blue water. The locals are friendly, the food is fabulous and just like in Greece, you can hire a yacht and sail the seas.
Dreaming of lazy island days on Bora Bora? Head to celebrity-favourite Lizard Island. This exclusive island is a serious contender in the island style stakes and cconsistently ranks as one of the Conde Naste Top 10 hotels of the world. Its unique setting offers unrivalled tranquility.
If the rolling hills of Ireland are beckoning, take a drive along Spring Creek Mountain Road in the Scenic Rim just outside Brisbane. With Queen Mary Falls, a lush dairy land and even a town called Killarney, you would be forgiven for thinking you were in Europe. Alternatively, take any one of the winding mountain roads to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat at Mount Tamborine where there’s enough bush walking trails to keep the Scottish going for a month of morning rambles.
Immerse yourself in France for 48 hours without leaving the Fraser Coast. Speak French, eat French, watch French movies, play French games and hopefully end up dreaming like a Gallic native while staying at the quaint Eco Queenslander just outside Maryborough.
Live the life of a Lone Star cowboy without stepping foot in the USA. Leighton Park in Charters Towers, just 90 minutes drive west of Townsville, offers authentic longhorn wagon and saddle shop tours that will take you back in time to the legendary west. Enjoy a hearty camp oven cooked meal served from the back of a genuine Cowboy Chuck Wagon then cosy up to the resident Longhorn that’s smashed its way into the Guinness Book of Records for having the longest horn span in the world.
Cook up a Thai storm and bypass Bangkok at the stunning Spirit House cooking school or Tamarind Spicers Retreat, both in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
For more information:
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