10 of the best adventure experiences in Queensland

Packing more adventure than an Indiana Jones film, the 1.7 million square kilometres of Queensland territory is brimming with bucket-list worthy experiences to keep you on the edge of your seat and your comfort zone.

Hugged by the Great Barrier Reef from the east, red dirt Australian outback from the west, and dotted with islands, rainforests, gorges and World Heritage-listed wonders in between, Queensland’s adventure playground is ready to ramp up your adrenaline.

Say bon voyage to bland holiday activities that won’t make the brag-worthy return to real life. If you’re chasing belly-dropping, heart-racing, one-of-a-kind activities that’ll push your limits and potentially push you off the edge; step right this way.

1. Bungy jump on a BMX bike

AJ Hackett, Cairns, Tropical North Queensland | Top adventure experiences in Queensland

Photo by @kate_duffy

Nothing says crazy like leaving your fate in the ankle straps of a single strand of rubber and jumping head-first off a 50m tower.

A.J Hackett, the man who launched bungy jumping to the world and attracted global attention when he dived head first off the Eiffel Tower in the ’80s has set up an adventure company of his own. AJ Hackett Cairns is Australia’s one and only bungy tower and giant Minjin Jungle Swing right in the heart of the rainforest. And did we mention the sweeping views of Cairns all the way out to the Great Barrier Reef?

With 16 different bungy jump styles, you’re guaranteed that almighty ‘belly in your throat’ kind of feeling. Want to take it to the next level (literally)? For a wheely good time, opt for the BMXtreme where you ride a BMX bike off the roof!

2. Dive with sharks at Osprey Reef

Shark dive, Mike Ball Dive Expeditions | Top adventure experiences in Queensland

Photo by Jayne Jenkins / Mike Ball Dive Expeditions

If you thought cage diving with sharks would evoke nervous butterflies, try removing the cage and free diving with these agile reef predators. Mike Ball Dive Expeditions trip to Osprey Reef provides the chance to observe sharks up close with three unique offerings that will leave no-fin to the imagination.

Not only will you join the underwater party with up to 40 sharks during a shark feed, you’ll also be surrounded by a plethora of fish species.

If the thought of shark diving already makes you wizz your wetsuit, don’t be alarmed. Mike Ball Dive Expeditions takes safety extremely seriously and divers will be comprehensively briefed prior to shark diving.

3. Whitewater rafting on the Tully River

Tackle grade three and four rapids while navigating your raft through World Heritage-listed rainforest on the Tully River.

For your full day of Tully River rafting with Raging Thunder Adventures, you’ll be kitted out with a helmet and life jacket and BYO swimmers and change of clothes as you can expect to get very wet!

A riverside BBQ lunch is provided to refuel after an adventurous morning honing your rafting skills.

4. Heli muster in Outback Queensland

Helicopter mustering Outback Queensland

As Arnie would say (cue accent), “get to the chopper!” And get there quick. The outback heli mustering experience at Shandonvale Station will knock your socks off as your low-flying helicopter musters the animals through the paddocks of this outback working station.

With no windows and a big pull from the propeller, you’ll want to keep your arms and camera inside the heli while you enjoy this epic Outback experience. Keep your eyes peeled for other animals you may see from your birds-eye view from the best seat in the house chopper.

5. Hike up Queensland’s tallest mountain

Mount Bartle Frere, Tropical North Queensland | Top adventure experiences in Queensland

Photo by @therawphoto

With an elevation of 1611m, Mount Bartle Frere is Queensland’s tallest mountain. If you manage to hike the final ascent to the broad summit, you can consider yourself a bouldering boss.

And your reward? Standing at the only tropical peak of the State 8 (the eight highest mountains in each Australian state and territory). To put it mildly – views for days!

The Bartle Frere trail can be accessed from the coast at Josephine Falls or from the west via the Atherton Tablelands. Regardless of which route you take, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and your ears open for the rainforest orchestra.

6. MTB the World Championship course at Smithfield

Calling all aspiring mountain bikers to challenge themselves on the world championship downhill course at Smithfield.

Follow in the tyre marks of the pros as you manoeuvre through the volcanic-clay sculpted tracks of one of the highest profile rainforest trail systems in the world.

This spectacular network, twisting through the rainforest, is only 20 minutes from Cairns and levels range from green for beginners to double black diamond for the advanced riders.

7. Jump on a thrill ride at a Gold Coast theme park

Nothing will get your heart pumping and leave your stomach churning like a rollercoaster.

Movie World is home to the DC Rivals HyperCoaster which is the tallest, longest and fastest HyperCoaster of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. The Hypercoaster track is almost double the length of any other Gold Coast theme park ride so hold onto your socks, smile for the camera and enjoy the 1.4km of twists, turns and heart-stopping speed.

If you’re headed to Dreamworld why not tackle the park’s big 9 thrill rides? If you can only stomach one, start with the BuzzSaw, which is the Southern Hemisphere’s highest inversion thrill ride.

Picture being held upside-down, 15 storeys up, before falling through a 360-degree heart roll and plummeting vertically at speeds of up to 105km per hour. Excuse me while I pick my jaw back up from the floor.

8. Skydive over the Whitsundays

Is there is any place more spectacular to jump out of a plane above the clouds than over the 74 islands of the Whitsundays? We can’t think of one.

Take the plunge with Skydive Australia and experience the ultimate thrill of skydiving from 15,000 feet over the turquoise waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

A jump from this height will give you a crazy 60-second free fall and 5-7 minutes of stunning views as you float your way down to Airlie Beach. Bucket list worthy? Abso-chutely!

9. Swim with whales

There’s something so mesmerising about witnessing whales in the wild. Seeing these gentle giants from a boat as they migrate north for the winter is an awe-inspiring experience in itself. But, did you know you can actually swim with these enormous mammals in Queensland?

Submerge yourself in the deep blue and come fin to fin with the gentle giants. You will find humpback whales on the Fraser Coast and Sunshine Coast from June to October and dwarf minke whales in Tropical North Queensland in June and July.

For this whale-y incredible experience, read on for further for the what, where and how to swim with whales in the wild.

10. Jungle surf in the rainforest

Hold onto your loincloth, Tarzan! We’re going jungle surfing in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest. Unlike Tarzan, shirts are mandatory, and we’ll switch the jungle vine for a zip line, but the experience is just as thrilling.

Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours at Cape Tribulation is one of the most exciting ways to experience the World Heritage-listed rainforest from right in the thick of it.

And when you’re standing on the platforms, between 5m and 20m above the ground, you can see as far as the Great Barrier Reef.

Harness on, feet up and away you go!

Do you have the need for speed? Tell us your favourite adventure activity below.

*This post was first published in 2015 and updated in March 2018.