It’s a long journey – but very comfortable on the Qantas A380 airbus. Time and I just flew in my big seat, feet up on the footrest and plugged into my personal entertainment system!

I arrived in Brisbane at night to the buzz of the bars and clubs in full swing but I preferred Brisbane when I woke next morning, the light sparkling on the river.

Most everyone visits Australia Zoo, when they come to Brisbane; it’s the famous home of the late Steve Irwin. Now in the third Irwin generation it has grown, and is internationally recognized for its dedication to animal conservation. What a fun place too! “cuddle” a Koala, feed the Kangaroos, see the Tigers too! There are escorted tours in golf buggies, capturing all the highlights, accompanied by an excellent guide. It’s ever changing, so there’s always something new for 2nd and 3rd visits – we ended the tour at the Hospital, inspired by Steve Irwin and dedicated to his mum.

Just North of Brisbane is the Sunshine coast and Maroochydore and Mooloolaba, which have lovely beaches and a few bars and cafes.

The next part of my trip was on the Sunlander Train! I was to travel North along the Queensland Coast to Cairns. The train was relaxing, a lounge car, a bar, and an excellent dining car. There are also comfortable cabins and seats, and stops to get off and stretch your legs.

At last I arrived in tropical Cairns. There’s lots to do here, shopping, night markets, the lagoon, a Casino, and lots of bars and restaurants. Cairns is also a good base for all the ‘must dos’

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Kuranda, a small village, high up in the rainforest, is one of the “must dos”. I went up by Skyrail,a cable car and came down on the Karunda scenic train. The views are breathtaking and there are stops and viewpoints to take in. The village is lovely. I enjoyed a lovely lunch and then strolled and browsed in the shops. There is a wildlife centre up here and a fun river cruise. On the cultural side, you can learn about Daintree Rainforest with your own aboriginal guide, and Tjapukai By Night Tour is enchanting. Enjoy a meal as the Tjapukai tribe relate their stories on stage in song and dance.

Or take to the air and see it all from above in a Hot Air Balloon!

Balloons take off up in the Atherton Tablelands, about an hour north of Cairns.

Sunrise over the bush, silently watching the dawn …oh, what a sight!

Just a little way from Cairns are the delightful seaside towns of Palm Cove and Port Douglas. Small resorts where buildings cannot rise above the height of the palm trees

But, Queensland is most famous for its ultimate experience – the Great Barrier Reef. My experience was with Quicksilver. A catamaran and a day to enjoy their pontoon over on the reef. Your day can include a helicopter ride for a view from above, or scuba diving and snorkeling for a view from below. There’s even an underwater observation deck, and a semi-submersible to see the wonderful colourful fish and coral, and stay dry!

Then I headed South – and I left the natural wonders of tropical Queensland for the hustle and bustle of the city of Sydney. And it’s such an iconic city! Circular Quay, lively and busy with ships and harbour cruises coming and going; the Opera House, and its wonderful views of the Bridge, are just two of the most famous. Of course, I climbed the Bridge and it was in glorious sunshine too, so the views from the top were stunning.

Tours of the magnificent Sydney Opera House will astound you too. The story is that the design was originally disregarded and discarded.

Darling Harbour has stories too – this is where the convict ships arrived, but now it’s the best place for malls! Sydney’s historic Rocks area was built as an English village green with the pub one end and the church the other!

I loved the contrast between peaceful and tropical Queensland. White sandy beaches, blue skies with the lush of the green of the rain forest and the wonder of the vast big blue reef, compared with the skyscrapers of Sydney – its iconic sights, history and excitement. A really great combination for a twin Australian experience!

If you’d like to know more email me: gill@hallmarktravel.com

Meet me in the gallery!