/ Adventure Travel
adventure — By Lauren Katulka on August 28, 2010 at 3:42 pm
Filed under: adventure travel, extreme sports, featuredarticle

Adrenalin Activities in Queensland – Extreme Sports in Australia’s Sunshine State

Queensland is known as Australia’s adventure playground, with many activities designed to get the most from the state’s weather, famously called “beautiful one day, perfect the next.” From the oceans of the Great Barrier Reef to the beaches of the Gold Coast, there’s no excuse for boredom when vacationing in the Sunshine State.

The Great Barrier Reef is regarded as one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and the best way to see it is to jump right in. Tourist cruises on glass bottomed boats are fine, but it’s much more exciting to get up close and personal with the world’s largest coral reef and almost 2000 different species of marine life.

A humpback wrasse in the Great Barrier Reef

A humpback wrasse in the Great Barrier Reef

Don’t let a lack of experience hold you back. Many of the region’s dive companies have day-trips designed for novices. They’ll take you to the calm waters of Oyster or Arlington Reefs, or the tranquil Upolu Cay for a spot of snorkeling or diving. This waterway is sheltered with a sandy bottom, so it’s perfect for folks finding their sea legs.

If you’ve got more experience under your belt, make sure you get to Yalonga Wreck. Tours here tend to require a minimum number of logged dives and open water certification to get involved, but if you’ve got the credentials this is an experience worth taking. The site of the Yalonga Wreck is famous for attracting the biggest fish in the Reef.

Surfing in the Gold Coast

Surfing in the Gold Coast

Queensland’s surf beaches are almost as legendary as the Reef, and most of them are conveniently located along the tourist stretch known as The Gold Coast. You’ll find some of the best breaks at The Spit, Mermaid Beach, Narrowneck, and Main Beach. If you’re after bigger waves head to the point breaks at Burleigh Heads, Kirra, and Snapper Rocks. These large waves bring in large crowds, but it’s worth braving them if you really want to get your blood pumping. Venture out in the morning to enjoy the swell from the east. You can count on one to two foot waves any time of year, although conditions are even more radical when the cyclones swing through.

If you don’t want to take your board on vacation you can hire one from several places along the strip, who have shortboards, mini mals, Malibu longboards, and learner boards available. Most are also happy to lend out wax, wetsuits and roof racks, which is really everything you need to enjoy those big breaks. If you’re spending a lot of time in Queensland look for stores that offer extended equipment hire. That way it’s always on hand when you’ve got the urge to hit the beach.

If you’ve never surfed before, Australian holidays are the perfect excuse to learn. There are several surf schools on the Gold Coast which promise to help you get up on a board and stay safe while you’re enjoying the waves.

But there’s more to Queensland than the coast. The Tully River near Cairns is regarded as one of Oceania’s best white water rafting locations. Traversing it is not for the faint-hearted, which is just why enthusiasts love it. It might seem dangerous, but local tour companies guarantee your safety. Their guides have extensive training and know just how to handle the raging waters. No experience is required, but you’ll need to be a confident swimmer if you want to take on the most extreme tours. Rock jumping, rapid swimming, and raft surfing make these experiences extra hair raising. The standard Tully Rafting tours are a little tamer, but they’ll still get your blood pumping. For that reason, you’ll need to stay on dry land if you’re pregnant or under 13 years.

Sand dunes around Cape Flattery, Cape York

Sand dunes around Cape Flattery, Cape York

You’d be forgiven for thinking all Queensland’s action happens on the water, but you can have plenty of fun on the land. The most popular adventure sport on terra firma is exploring the state’s northernmost point Cape York in a four-wheel drive.

It might not sound very adventurous to sit behind the wheel of a large, modern vehicle, but Cape York will put any experienced driver through his paces. Many of the roads have humps and bumps, and you’ll also need to cross deep rivers, which may be inhabited by saltwater crocodiles, to get where you want to go. The conditions also vary wildly depending on the time you go. A dirt road that may be as smooth as a paved highway one day, and then become a nightmare after heavy rain or interruption from road trains. Make sure you arrange your vacation for the dry season, which runs between May to October. The journey is challenging enough without adding thunderstorms and tropical cyclones to the mix. Remember to plan for the worst before you set off. This area is truly in the middle of nowhere, so you may be miles away from supplies or help if you get into trouble. It’s advisable to travel in a convey of vehicles, pack plenty of supplies and equipment for repairs, and familiarize yourself with these all-terrain vehicles before you commence the journey.

It’s worth putting yourself to the test though. While the journey to Cape York is memorable, the destination is also something special with its isolated beaches and fantastic fishing spots.

A Queensland vacation is about more than sunbathing, theme parks, and nightlife. It’s a place that can get your blood pumping, no matter what adventure activity takes your fancy.

Image sources: Brewbooks, Aristrocrats-hat, Roisterer

This post is sponsored by Quantas Holidays; the opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author.

Tags: adventure travel, extreme sports, featuredarticle

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