Pelican Waters, Queensland © thinboyfatter
Queensland, situated in the northeast corner of Australia, is the country's holiday playground, attracting visitors all year round. It is known as the 'Sunshine State', and the major attraction is the incredible underwater world provided off its coastline along the Great Barrier Reef. The Reef is a UNESCO-listed marine park that stretches for more than 1,250 miles (2,000km) along the Queensland coast, home to one of the most diverse animal and plant ecosystems on earth, and is dotted with idyllic island resorts. Queensland is also home to four other UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites at Riversleigh, the Wet Tropics of Queensland, the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, and Fraser Island.
Further south, beyond Brisbane, the coastline is known as the Gold Coast. Here visitors can swim and surf all year round at 35 patrolled beaches along the 45 miles (70km) of coastline. Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland, while Cairns, in the tropical north, is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Brisbane boasts some world-class attractions too, such as the iconic Story Bridge and the oldest and largest koala sanctuary in the world, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, where lucky visitors can feed, pet and hold the lovable koalas.
Travellers should be aware that especially during the summer months (usually between October and May) the shallow coastal waters of Queensland become infested with marine stingers, commonly known as box jellyfish, whose sting is highly dangerous and can be deadly. Many beaches offer protected swimming with stinger nets in place, or enclosed tidal pools, and surf lifesavers may warn people off infested beaches. A lycra 'stinger suit' may be worn by swimmers as protection.