Queensland, Australia: What’s New and Coming Soon

Queensland, Australia is seeing a steadily growing list of new and notable attractions, with its capital, Brisbane, unveiling new hotels and offering immersive nature-based experiences encompassing indigenous arts, culture, conservation and wildlife.

First: United Airlines is adding new direct flights from Los Angeles to Brisbane starting in November 2023 and has increased service to Queensland from its San Francisco hub with daily flights to Brisbane. Air Canada has also recently expanded to daily flights between Vancouver and Brisbane, now seven services per week.

New and Notable in Brisbane 

FIFA Women's World Cup: From July 20 to August 20, the Women’s World Cup will light up Brisbane Stadium. Caxton Street is the place to eat, drink and soak up the electric atmosphere.

Queen’s Wharf Update: The Queen’s Wharf Sky Deck has been lifted into place more than 300 feet above the Brisbane River, topping out the Star Grand Hotel. It's poised to become one of the city’s most recognizable skyscapes elevating Brisbane’s already growing international reputation as a must-visit destination ahead of the 2032 Olympics. Other hotels to open as part of the Queen’s Wharf mega-development: The Star Brisbane and a Rosewood Hotel, making its brand debut in Australia.

Hotels and Resorts

Pelorus Private Island
Pelorus Private Island (Photo by Pelorus Private Island)

Essence Boutique Hotel and Holiday Homes: Just south of Noosa at Peregian Beach, located between beach and biosphere, a 32-suite boutique hotel and 20 custom-built vacation homes are complete on the "Sunshine Coast" and will open this August.

Pelorus Private Island: The hotel is an exclusive new retreat in the Great Barrier Reef, accessible by helicopter or private yacht, opening in November. This secluded island offers a spacious residence with four luxurious suites, making it the only luxury private island in the Townsville region. Activities include diving, snorkeling, guided tours on jet skis and sea bobs, reef fishing, visits to the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) and boat charters. The island also offers access to the untouched wilderness of Hinchinbrook Island, known for its rainforest trails, waterfalls, wildlife and diverse flora

Ardo Hotel in Townsville: Opening in late 2023, this $88 million resort will offer premium accommodation, world-class dining, a luxurious day spa, and a rooftop pool deck and bar with panoramic views across the Coral Sea to Magnetic Island. Developed by the Morris Group, the family-owned hospitality group behind Queensland’s Orpheus Island Lodge, Mt Mulligan Lodge and Beechmont Estate.

Indigenous Arts and Culture

Immersive Indigenous Experience on the Great Barrier Reef (March 2023): Two iconic Bundaberg tourism operators, Lady Musgrave Experience and Taribelang Bunda Cultural Tours have curated a three-day cultural exploration of Djagun Bunda (land and sea people) for guests staying onboard Lady Musgrave HQ pontoon on the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Travelers can learn about Aboriginal culture and history while encountering abundant marine life and coral before retreating to a queen glamping bed under the stars on the zero-carbon footprint Lady Musgrave HQ pontoon.

The Grand Return of Jarramali Rock Art Tours (May 2023): In the remote backdrop of Cape York Peninsula and helmed by Kuku Yalanji traditional owners, this intimate Indigenous wilderness experience is archeologically and culturally remarkable, exploring Quinkan Rock Art (among UNESCO’s most significant bodies of rock art in the world) via 4WD or helicopter camping tours, discovery of bush tucker foods, aboriginal medicinal practices and land regeneration.

Daintree Rainforest
Daintree Rainforest (Photo by Tourism Tropical North Queensland)

Daintree Back Country Bliss: To complement its iconic River Drift Snorkeling Tour floating beneath the rainforest canopy, Kuku Yalanji Elder CJ welcomes guests to his country in a remote part of the Daintree rainforest on the new Back Country Bliss Unseen Daintree Heli-Experience for just five guests. The 30-minute helicopter flight over World Heritage rainforest lands at Yindilli Campsite where CJ shares his life story and rainforest knowledge on a guided walk followed by a fresh barramundi lunch. 

Conservation and Wildlife 

Sunshine Coast Sustainability Program: As part of this program, visitors contribute towards reducing carbon emissions though local reforestation projects. Encouraged to actively calculate their trip emissions, travelers receive sustainable travel tips to reduce their carbon footprint, learn how to make their trip “climate friendly” and contribute toward replanting of trees at one of two sites in the program. By regenerating the native vegetation of the area, the ecosystem and biodiversity of the site will be restored, and it will provide habitat and protection for species including a number of vulnerable and endangered wildlife including rare birds and koalas.

Great Barrier Reef Accessible Upgrades: In the "Year of Accessible Tourism," Quicksilver Dive in Port Douglas has become the first PADI Adaptive Service Facility in Queensland, and is the only facility of its kind on the Great Barrier Reef to hold this accreditation. Opened in 2018, Quicksilver Dive’s diver training center is now one of only four facilities in Australia with PADI Adaptive Service Facility accreditation.

Humpback and Dwarf Minke Whale-Watching: It's whale watching season in the Great Barrier Reef, where Dwarf minke whales gather for only six weeks each year. July and August are the prime months for sightings. This rare and magical encounter is limited to a few hundred people annually. Boating excursions from Cairns or Port Douglas provide the best opportunity to see humpback and dwarf minke whales in the outer reef. A liveaboard experience offers an extended chance to swim and interact with dwarf minke whales over several days. Freedom Whale Watch, a tour operator in Hervey Bay, has been recognized in Trip Advisor's Traveller's Choice Awards for their exceptional whale watching experiences.

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