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Once you make it to the land down under, most people generally go Sydney or maybe Melbourne. But the third largest city of Australia is Brisbane and that’s in the state of Queensland.
Queensland has many areas of natural beauty, including the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast, home to many of the state's most popular beaches. There’s the Bunya Mountains and the Great Dividing Range, with numerous lookouts, waterfalls and picnic areas; Carnarvon Gorge; Whitsunday Islands; and Hinchinbrook Island. The state contains six World Heritage-listed preservation areas: Australian Fossil Mammal Sites at Riversleigh in the Gulf Country, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, Fraser Island, Great Barrier Reef, Lamington National Park and the Wet Tropics of Queensland.
These escapes offer a chance to get away from the mundane, and have a completely unique outlook on Queensland. From the tropical gleaming waters of the Pacific, through the lush rain forests, to the relaxing inland backdrops, nothing can prepare you for the beauty of Queensland.
The only problem are the tourists. That’s why sometimes it really pays off packing up and taking a weekend getaway from the bustle of the towns. And because there is no shortage of places to visit in Queensland you might want to consider these getaways as part of your next Aussie adventure. You only have to choose one during your next trip to the Land Down Under to experience an adventure of a lifetime.
An Action-Packed Island Escape
Cross the waves in your car and head off to World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world. A day’s trip there features the single greatest beach highway, ideal for a soothing drive, and the best way to explore the island. The stunning swimming experience starts at the azure waters of the Pacific, and takes you inland to the hidden lagoons and fresh water lakes, awaiting discovery. The adrenaline junkie in you can head to one of the many sand dunes for a real off-road buggy rush. And once the sun gets scorching you can always cool yourself under the shade of coconuts and palms, beside the gleaming waterfalls.
A Healthy and Relaxing Retreat
For a calming escape away from the hum-drum of towns and tourist destinations, go for a relaxing weekend into Noosa Hinterland. Make it a real adventure, and embark on a ferry ride through Noosaville, and the meandering waterways of Noosa Everglades. Explore the traditions of the Gubbi Gubbi tribe on the shore of Lake Cooroibah, before you head to the health resort. What makes these life-changing relaxation retreats amazing is their incorporation of the natural surroundings into their activities. A horseback ride across Kin Kin and to Mt. Cooroora with mesmerizing panoramic vistas is truly one of the most rejuvenating experiences Queensland has to offer.
Adrenaline Rich Adventure
Boasting of some of the best waves in the world, Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is a real water sport extravaganza. Surfers from around the world gather for the notorious surfing festivals, while beginners have a chance to try on something uniquely Australian. The action-packed Aussie adventure doesn’t stop there because the Coast also offers intense wind surfing, and for a really extreme challenge you might try barefoot skiing. Once you get off the water you can enjoy endless pale sandy beaches, along the high-end beachside resorts and world class dining experiences.
The World’s Greatest Diving and Snorkeling Experience
Dive into a getaway of a lifetime and explore the hidden depths of the Great Barrier Reef. Starting from Cairns, book a cruise along the largest reef system in the world. You can dive into the clear blue waters surrounded by dolphins and be introduced to a treasure trove of marine life. As you enter the water, schools of technicolored fish, magnificent sea turtles, and elegant manta rays will pass you overhead. For a personal encounter with dolphins visit a dolphin sanctuary; it offers a snorkeling experience you won’t forget. And for a day’s adventure on land, be sure to hit the many hidden coves, underwater caverns, and secluded beaches this side of Queensland.
South Queensland’s Granite Belt provides a real luxurious wining and dining escape. In recent decades Australia’s wines have been considered one of the best in the world, and Queensland’s southern valleys are among the best in the country. Exploring the rich Chardonnays, fruity Cabernets and flavorful Grenache, you will also enjoy high-end dinning among the numerous restaurants scattered across this wine region. This escape is all about quality in life, and the beauty of setting provides sunsets to match.
About 10 years ago, I left Cleveland, Ohio — where I grew up — because the economy was still slow and struggling for this mid-western post-industrial age city. For me, an architect by training, opportunities were very limited. Like most things, you don't realize “what you’ve got until it's gone.” Or in my case, until after I had left.
Immigrants from Eastern Europe and elsewhere came to cities like Cleveland in the latter part of the 19th and early part of the 20th Century to work and make a better life. They recreated what they knew and in turn, altered and adapted their culture to the city of Cleveland. I really miss the various ethnic enclaves in different pockets of neighborhoods.
Every city has a Little Italy, but do they have a Slavic Village? Neighborhood places that readily serve fish and perogies on Fridays? They do in this city on Lake Erie.
I was back home recently during the July 4th holiday and was given a tour of a city I had forgotten about. The West Side Market is still there and improving. The joy of experiencing the WSM should never be taken for granted. I used to live a block away and treated the Market like it was my pantry. West 25th Street was struggling to become something. Now, it is a destination.
Almost across the street from the West Side Market is the renovated Market Square next to Great Lakes Brewery. I can get the GLBC beer in other cities now, but being back home and sitting in that bar eating perogies and drinking a beer is an experience of its own.
The city of Cleveland may have shed a few people over the years, but those people always seem to come back. I was amazed at the change of the Public Square and new Convention Center. I do have to admit that I have my own opinion of the casino inside of a historic old building. but everything else that was happening with it seems amazing.
There are some other things that I miss about my hometown such as easily being able to see a band play in a neighborhood bar. People are laid back, blue-collar folks. Some cities just don't get it, but Cleveland now has it. The following is a baker’s dozen of things to experience if you make it to Cleveland:
A media hullaballoo was stirred this week at the Cincinnati Zoo. A longtime gorilla resident named Harambe [which, ironically, means in Swahili, “all pull together” — as in communal action for social benefit] was shot and killed when a three-year-old boy snuck past a railing and fell into a watery moat in the gorilla’s enclosure. Eastern and Western gorillas — and a further subdivision of four or five subspecies — are the largest living primates, with DNA very similar to our own.
In terrestrial zoology, gorillas are ground-dwelling, mostly herbivorous, apes that inhabit the central African forests. They have been unjustly slandered as being brutish, as when people call a shambling, loutish big male an “ape.” In the wild, gorillas are said to live 35 to 40 years. But in captivity, despite what appears to be ferocious resentment and acting-out episodes, they have been seen to live 50 to 60 years. So Harambe could have lived maybe another 40 years had zoo officials not rushed to fell him.
New video footage of the 17-year-old silverback suggests he was trying to protect the three-year-old who fell into the zoo enclosure just minutes before the 400-pound animal was fatally shot.
For a few moments, Harambe and the boy had held hands, and footage shows Harambe was indeed being protective of the boy, not aggressive. There are now significant questions as to whether the gorilla needed to be shot. Zoo officials said that a tranquilizer may have taken too long to take effect, had there been imminent danger to the child. Protests are already up and running against the shooting.
So our treatment of animals is in the public eye again.
I somewhat share the sadness and grief of our poor treatment of primates, our close cousins, as well as intelligent animals such as elephants, dolphins, whales; I would include another favorite, giraffes, all of whom require huge acreage to feel at home, to feed, forage and thrive.
I also believe, as does the writer of this NY Times piece — that, in the future, we will regard the current-day treatment of these sentient beings with huge discomfort and embarrassment. Who doesn’t love seeing animals in the wild? I have been to Africa eight times, but a zoo, for all its convenience, is a prison of hopelessness in many cases. It is rare to find a zoo that does not enrage and defeat the spirits of these noble creatures. One exception is the wonderful San Diego Zoo with its large roaming spaces, though, in fact, there’s never enough space for the needs of mega-fauna.
In China I saw domestic dogs caged in zoos, and the Westerner's heart broke for the evident senselessness and cruelty. These loving companion animals do not warrant a cage. The killing of the mature gorilla this weekend may have been necessary to save the life of the child who invaded its cage-space but I still believe they could have tranquillized the animal rather than killing it (though not being there, I can’t tell).
In any case, a full-grown gorilla is in a sense sacred. There is not a huge oversupply of these magnificent near-humans. They are being hunted and shot and “accidented” out of existence, their numbers steadily dwindling. It is estimated that there are some 150,000 to 200,000 left in the wild, numbers notably reduced from a century ago, when habitat was less invaded, less violated by hunters, and assuredly less “touristified.” In years to come, when more research is done, we will know much more of the intelligence of these creatures given us by a beneficent Deity. Our magnanimity to them will enlarge. Perhaps the zoos will be emptier, but larger. And the inhabitants of these zoos will be less afflicted and diseased, wracked with sores and grieving expressions. Satisfying, to me, is the flamboyantly fabulous aquarium in Dubai's largest mall and hotel complex. There is an enormous depth of voluminous water, and thousands of genera of fish and mammalia, all fed steadily to avoid cannibalism of some of the species who would eat each other if not provided food.
I loved the vastness of the swim-space — hundreds of feet deep — which afforded the species room to circle and dive and explore and propagate. I know fish have split-second memories, but the kindness of the aquarium's capacity cheered the children and adult viewers, instinctually. Zoos need to be like that, too -- expansive enough to let the animal's nature not be constricted and bruised for all his barred and minimized life. This is not to say we should all be in court clamoring for Raymour & Flanigan bedroom suites for chimps, or the latest tablets for orangutans. But a measure of empathy and kindness would not be out of place for humans as they regard those less free than we.
Honestly, if you live in New York City, you don’t need to drive — you don’t even need a driver’s license. However, if taxis are nowhere around (because you don’t live in Manhattan) or the only way you can get somewhere is by bus (because you don’t live in Manhattan), then having a bike can be helpful.
There are a few rules of the road you'll need to know before you get on two wheels, though:
1. Everyone Hates You
You’re riding down a busy intersection, fearing that that person texting to your left won’t see you and will cut you off. You, being the more alert and safer one, slow down and go on the curb to avoid getting hit. A pedestrian then shouts, “Sidewalks are for people.” You are filled with rage and adrenaline and yell, “Then what am I?” Now you continue on your route, feeling pleased with your well-timed comeback, all while avoiding danger.
The thing is, people hate bikers for no reason. Drivers get angry because they can’t make those illegal turns or speed up with you around. Pedestrians will never understand that you’re on the sidewalk for a total of five seconds and you have better coordination than their multitasking selves can handle.
And even then, they can never understand that you’re taking a safer route than crossing a very dangerous road (like Queens Boulevard, coincidentally named the “Boulevard of Death”).
2. Idiots Will Be Idiots
No seriously, go ahead and make that illegal turn. Sure, it’s OK for you to cut through a gas station to save 30 seconds at the red light. No, why would I be mad if you double-parked when there was a completely empty spot available literally right behind you?
The first thing you’ll learn while biking is that the stupidity level of people is just off the charts.
You would think that that people would have learned something from their driving test or mandatory five-hour class, but that’s only a dream. I am convinced that the DMV only passes people with sob stories and anyone who pays them a fee. Sooner or later, you will realize that if you worked for the police, you would hand out enough tickets to get New York state out of debt. For now, you’ll have to live with the people who refuse to signal and the jaywalkers who believe it’s OK for them to walk at a red light but it’s illegal for cars and bikes. 3. It’s Free Exercise and Transportation in One!
I’ve just told you why it sucks to bike ride in any city, but let me tell you why it’s amazing. You sail on by joggers, dog walkers, pedestrians, drivers, motorcyclists, and boarders. When you weigh the pros and cons of it all, biking is technically the best form of exercise and transportation. You get to places faster, you use muscles not used in other transportation modes, and you even get to rest and still go places. You basically are “fun exercising.”
Former Mayor Bloomberg caught onto this fact, and took the initiative to make New York City healthier. More bike lanes, stairs, food ratings, calorie counts, anything to do with smoking, trans fats, salts, and more.
And those are the ones that got passed, not like the infamous soda bans and taxes on sugary drinks. The best part? New Yorkers hated him but loved his initiatives.
What am I saying? Take a walk instead of a bus for three blocks, or ride a bike that mile to the shopping center. It’s way better than sitting down across someone who just won’t stop staring at you in that creepy way.
Or even when there’s no subway to a place that’s five miles away, just take the bike out and ride. The main thing is, biking places is so much easier since you’re reliant on yourself to get somewhere, you are getting there quicker by avoiding traffic, and you’re helping the environment as well as your body.
For the drivers out there — learn to follow the rules of the road, and hope you learn that those three seconds you save speeding or cutting people could cost someone a life.
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