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 Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef

Base yourself in cosmopolitan Cairns and take a day trip to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef. Snorkel or dive in warm tropical water with rainbow colored coral, sponges and fish. Or head to the magical, primeval Daintree Rainforest. Here you can cruise the Daintree River past birds, animals and crocodiles or cross over on a ferry to the four-wheel drive country of Cape Tribulation. See a performance by the world-famous Aboriginal dance theater Tjapukai, then ride the Kuranda Scenic Railway to the rainforest village of Kuranda. Fish from tranquil Mission Beach, where the rainforest meets the reef, or sip cocktails in the vibrant resort town of Port Douglas. Pamper yourself in a Palm Cove spa or camp, fish and four-wheel drive through the remote wilderness of Cape York Peninsula. Explore the world's longest lava tube system in Undara Volcanic National Park and a 1930s Spanish-inspired castle in Paronella Park.

 Whitsundays

You can sail, swim, snorkel, dive or just relax in the Whitsundays–74 pristine, palm-fringed islands tucked inside the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Enjoy five stars of resort luxury on Hayman Island and party on Daydream or Hamilton islands. Visit Whitsunday Island and walk the pure white, silica sands of Whitehaven Beach. Camp on the wilderness of Hook Island or get a natural holiday on South Molle Island. You can stay in the carefree, backpacker town of Airlie Beach or take in the tropical islands from a chartered sailboat.

 Fraser Coast

Four-wheel drive past colored cliffs, rainforest and fresh water lagoons on World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island. Or, visit Lady Elliot Island on the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Cruise next to giant humpback whales and their calves from Hervey Bay between early July and late October. See the gracious Queenslander and colonial homes in historic Maryborough. Follow a wine trail through the fertile South Burnett Valley, then camp and bushwalk amongst strangler figs and Bunya Pines in the Bunya Mountains rising up behind.

Next: Explore Central Queensland, Outback Queensland and Mackay
FROM: Oprah's Ultimate Australian Adventure
Published on January 18, 2011

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