A view to what’s new in the Sunshine State
When it comes to the latest hot spots and unmissable things to do in Queensland, Helen Flanagan has some suggestions.
Gracing the east coast on the humpback highway north, are the majestic humpback whales. It’s truly a sight to behold watching them slap pecs and tails in perfect harmony, also spy hop, breach or clear two-thirds of their gargantuan 400 tonne bodies out of the water, showing off gleaming white underbellies before crashing with a thunderous splash, leaving behind a calm area of water or footprint. It’s all about whales en-masse or whale soup in Hervey Bay Marine Park, the social networking hub of the universe for the gentle giants of the sea and their calves.
Book a whale watching cruise and be rewarded with numerous blows which occur when an adult baleen (toothless) humpback whale empties and refills its two lungs, the size of a small car, in less than two seconds. Once near the surface, they exhale forcefully through two blowholes on top of their heads at 40kph with the distinctive cloud formed from vapour condensation. Watch them shimmy under the boat, some just an arm’s length away, continually showing off by seemingly ‘lying’ on the water and slapping one or both fins, submerging themselves nearly vertically slapping tail flukes and rising out of the water so their eyes are just clear of the surface, before slipping back into their aquatic playground. Often the more inquisitive leap out of the calm waters and lift their great heads to watch whale watchers watching them.
Thirty minutes from Brisbane on the shores of Margate Beach near Redcliffe is The Sebel Brisbane Margate Beach, a sparkling new 4.5-star hotel with 58 very chic rooms, breath-taking water views overlooking Moreton Bay plus stunning natural surroundings.
Stroll the 2km timber boardwalk, cycle along the beachside pathways with free bike hire, swim in the bay (yes, remember it’s Queensland), paddleboard or windsurf. First class facilities include a rooftop pool and terrace, the Margate Beach House bar and kitchen offers relaxed waterfront dining every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner with an innovative menu designed by executive chef Steve Bestwick and focussing on local seasonal produce.
Big kids rejoice! Let the little ones have some hair-raising fun at the new DreamWorks Animation Trolls Village precinct at Dreamworld. Based on the 2016 Academy Award-nominated movie, transport into the colourful world of Trolls and join your favourite characters at interactive live shows and a one-of-a-kind beauty salon where kids can get “trolled up” to become one of the Trolls themselves. This world-first Trolls attraction will be at Dreamworld for 12-months only.
Carpe diem! Seize the day, swap snooze for roos and wake up with the local wallabies on the Cape Hillsborough Sunrise with the Wallabies Tours in Mackay. Led by experienced guides, the tour is designed to enhance the natural encounter while preserving Cape Hillsborough National Park through the incorporation of educational commentary as well as tips on optimal positioning for photography. The 90-minute tours commence half an hour before the sun rises.
Get thee to the chopper for the best seat in the house, 1,500ft above on the Sunshine Coast with Oceanview Helicopters. Departing from Caloundra, the chartered tours explore the region's hottest spots from the 55kms of glistening coastline to the Glass House Mountains with the added option of a local food and wine package . Oceanview Helicopter's Sunshine Coast tours start from $69pp and operate seven days a week.
It’s a lagoon swoon on Yeppoon's foreshore with its dramatic transformation into a $53m leisure space with the opening of the Yeppoon Lagoon precinct. Located right on the beachfront, the resort style lagoon pool includes a shallow children's play area and a swim-up infinity edge with panoramic views over the Keppel Islands. The surrounding parklands are equipped with barbecues and shaded areas making it the perfect place to soak up the sun. Entry to the Lagoon is free and is patrolled Monday to Sunday including public holidays.
Saving the best till last, how about the Whitsundays for the most amazing holiday deals ever offered. Save up to 50% on tours to stunning Whitehaven Beach and the Great Barrier Reef also accommodation on Hamilton Island, Long Island and Camp Island (just off the coast of Bowen).
You can sail the turquoise waters, get up close and personal with colourful marine life as you snorkel or dive the Reef, walk the long stretch of white silica sand of Whitehaven Beach and admire the swirling sand formation of Hill Inlet, fly over famous Heart Reef, spot a humpback whale and so much more. To take advantage of the Escape Winter in the Whitsundays’ deals, visit www.thewhitsundays.com.au
Get up close and personal with colourful marine life as you snorkel or dive the Reef
Images: As supplied
1 Majestic humpback whales
2 Sebel Brisbane Margate
3 Cape Hillsborough Sunrise with Wallabies Tours
4 The resort-like Yeppoon Lagoon Precinct