Noosa-Everglades

10 stunning places you had no idea were in Queensland

We’re not accusing mother nature of playing favourites, but it would seem some parts of Queensland got special treatment when she was carving out the landscape.

We’re talking stunning oases hiding in some of the driest parts of the country, infinity pools dangling over rocky outcrops and colours so bright you could accuse some swimming holes of being man-made imposters claiming to be natural beauties.

For proof these places are 100% made by Queensland, not man, make holiday plans around these magazine-worthy wonders.

1. Windin Falls, Tropical North Queensland

Windin Falls | stunning Queensland

Photo by @mitch.cox

Natural infinity pools are the stuff Instagram feeds are made of – and Queensland has a few hiding in its rainforests.

The best seat in the house for the Wet Tropics wonderland is Windin Falls, nestled in Wooroonooran National Park.

If you’re the sort of person who believes the journey is all part of the adventure – you’ll be pleased to find it dished up in spades as you take the Old Cairns Track and take your hiking boots offroad 90 minutes.

Your reward will be sweeping valley views and a natural swimming pool that’s almost always just yours for the money shot.

2. SS Adelaide, Townsville

The pesky thing about Queensland’s best shipwrecks, is you usually have to be an experienced scuba diver to be able to enjoy them.

That is, unless you own a drone and are a confident pilot to explore the SS Adelaide, one of the 20 shipwrecks off Magnetic Island, whose main deck just happens to be above the surface.

After running aground in 1916 in Cockle Bay, the SS Adelaide has been used by all manner of locals. In the early days following the grounding, people would use the cabins as changing rooms before swimming and also collected oysters from the hull. These days mangroves have colonised the rusting hulk.

At low tide, you can even walk 300m to explore this shipwreck on foot, but if the photos we’ve seen on Instagram are anything to go by – you’ll want an aerial view of this man-made ecosystem.

3. Wallaman Falls, Townsville

Wallaman Falls | stunning Queensland

Photo by @elisehalina

Australia’s highest permanent drop waterfall, Wallaman Falls, needs no introduction for longtime readers of this blog.

But if this is the first you’ve heard of this 268m waterfall (incidentally reported by James Cook University scientists to have the cleanest water in the world), these photos will make you put down your smartphone and fly to Townsville today. You’ll find this 10/10 within Girringun National Park, west of Ingham, amidst the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics rainforest.

The London Eye and Wallaman Falls have more than just their height in common; their views are spectacular too. But you can experience Wallaman both from the top-down and bottom-up, with two lookouts for an aerial perspective and a 3.2km return walk to see the base of the falls.  

4. Cardwell Pools, Tropical North Queensland

This blue pool broke the internet in 2016 when a social media post portraying Amalfi Coast blue water had the Facebook community wondering what sort of Photoshop sorcery Tropical North Queensland were using on their images.

Little did they know this waterhole requires #nofilter with mysteriously bright blue aqua water.

While the scientific explanation for these blue pools is too geeky for this little writer, all you need to know is the Cardwell Pools are naturally-fed and 100% safe for swimming.

Set your GPS to the Cassowary Coast to make a weekend out of visiting the Cardwell Pools and neighbours Mission Beach and Tully.

5. Lawn Hill Gorge, Outback Queensland

Boodjamulla NP | stunning Queensland

Photo by @_aswewander

If you thought Outback Queensland was all red dirt and flat plains, your mind is about to be blown 35-million times over – that’s once for every year this gorge has been in existence.

Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park bucks the Outback’s dusty presumption with colourful waterways that weave silently through giant sandstone gorges.

You can explore the gorge via seven walking trails which lead you along its cliffs to waterfalls and lookouts, but we’d recommend taking to the water for the best views of its red sandstone cliffs that drop into the emerald water.

Sure, you could tackle the 2820km2 of this National Park solo, but a little interpretation from a Savannah Guide via Adels Grove or our ‘how to’ guide is always advised.

After all, this isn’t just any old landform. David Attenborough describes the Riversleigh Fossil Fields, which make up part of this national park, as “one of the top four most important deposits in the world”.

6. Jimbour House, Southern Queensland Country

Jimbour House | stunning QueenslandYou don’t have to travel to the UK for your Downton Abbey fix.

Queensland has its own sandstone manor, Jimbour House, and you’ll find it three hours from Brisbane in the Western Downs.

Although it’s a private residence (and not owned by the Grantham’s if you’re wondering), the public are welcome to visit any time and stroll through its immaculate gardens, which keep three full-time gardeners busy each week.

If you want to see Jimbour House come to life, join them in May for the Big Skies festival which turns their rolling lawns into an amphitheatre for live music.

7. Frankland Islands, Tropical North Queensland

Frankland Islands | stunning Queensland

Photo by @elisehalina

If you don’t have Mabel, Round, High, Normanby and Russell on speed dial already, then maybe you should.

This fabulous five are islands, and they make up the Frankland Group National Park, 45km south-east and offshore from Cairns.

Access is only by private boat, which makes this quintuplet the textbook definition of “remote tropical island” being uninhabited, remote and absolutely pristine.

More than just your run-of-the-mill sand islands, you’ll find outcrops of weathered rocks and lush vegetation, throwbacks to when this group of islands was connected to the mainland more than 6000 years ago.  

8. Finch Hatton Gorge, Mackay

Finch Hatton Gorge | stunning Queensland

Photo by @tim_vlastuin

Swimming holes don’t come more picture-perfect than Finch Hatton Gorge in Mackay’s Highlands.

Surrounded entirely by granite boulders, mother nature broke the mould when she laid Finch Hatton’s foundations.

There is no doubt you’ll be warm enough for a dip – it’s a 1.5-hour walk on the Araluen Cascade Track or a two-hour hike if you go the extra 1.4km to the Wheel of Fire Track. Spoiler Alert: there are over 300 steps to get to the Wheel of Fire cascades.

Swim to the soundtrack of whip birds and immerse yourself in nature that leaves no clues that there’s just 80km between you and the sugar city.

For more Mackay-magic, discover the rest of the highlands on foot with this guide.

9. Cobbold Gorge, Outback Queensland

Proving age is no barrier to beauty, the 1700-million-year-old Cobbold Gorge sits in Outback Queensland’s Gulf Savannah region.

If you’re not that into bushwalking, you can leave your boots and a backpack at home – Cobbold Gorge offers the kind of outback adventure where sandals and a big hat are your major packing essentials.

Every day from March to October, guided tours take visitors through the gorge via silently powered electric boats, custom-built to fit between even the narrowest stretches of the gorge (2m wide in parts). You can expect some neck craning as you look up to 30m in the air to the cliffs which span for more than 80km2.

It’s not all natural beauty either – Cobbold Village’s infinity pool (with Queensland’s first swim-up bar) is just as ‘grammable as the gorge itself.

To make the most of your time in the gorge, we made you this 48-hour guide.

10. Noosa Everglades, Sunshine Coast

Now that you know the Sunshine Coast is home to one of only two everglades on the planet, you’d be crazy to put beach time ahead of the wilderness and wonder of the Noosa Everglades.

You’ll find this network of waterways and its ‘River of Mirrors’ between Boreen Point, 35 minutes north of downtown Noosaand Rainbow Beach,

Given there’s over 60km of reflective waterways, the most photogenic way to discover it is by kayak.

Kanu Kapers takes off from Boreen Point, with both half-day and longer overnight expeditions available so you can explore Lake Cootharaba and the Upper Noosa River at a leisurely pace.  

Need more convincing? We’ve got 4 more reasons why you need to do the Noosa Everglades.

What do you think is Queensland’s best-kept stunning secret?