Holy heat! As soon as the calendar flips to spring, Mother Nature dials up the warmth with temperatures soaring into the high 30's in Queensland. If the word 'heat' hasn't already created a mental shopping list of bathing suits and tropical escapes, read on to see what new aqua adventures and thrill-seeker delights await in the sunshine state.
Into the blue
A six-year anticipation and the $54 million Cairns Aquarium and Reef Research Centre is open, inviting eco-lovers on a 2.5-hour interactive journey from the rainforest to the reef, through 10 North Queensland ecosystems and 71 habitats. Get acquainted with the $1.8mil Oceanarium, home to a school of Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks, best admired from a 360-degree, five-metre-deep viewing platform. The 300,000-litre Deep Reef exhibit, an Australian first, is a replica of the reef 'drop off' ecosystem, at 10 metres high and 8.5 metres wide, showcasing the array of marine life usually only seen from a scuba diver's perspective. Other exhibits include The Tropical Rainforest, A Life in the Mangroves, River Monsters, Dangers of the Reef and Talk and Touch exhibits. Dine on the rainforest-style Daintree Deck or Under the Pier at the 220-seat Aqualuna Italian restaurant, set beside a 70,000-litre floor-to-ceiling marine tank with lurking black tip reef sharks. Located in Cairns CBD, the Cairns Aquarium is open 365 days from 9am until 5pm from Saturday to Thursday and 9am until 7pm on Friday. Tickets start from $28 for kids and $42 for adults, with family and concession prices available.
Pip Miller PR
P: +61 7 419 681 543
Theme park thrills
Whizz, whip and whirl your way along Movie World's new 1.4km DC Rivals HyperCoaster – the Southern Hemisphere's longest, fastest at 115km/hr and highest at 61.6 metres. Themed around Batman, DC's most well-regarded Super Hero, this is no ordinary rollercoaster, with a world first non-inverted loop and a 'Stengel dive' (that's an overbanked turn with a camelback hill). Located in Oxenford on the Gold Coast, it's a must-ride for thrill seekers. A $120 Mega Pass is the best way to experience not only the Movie World fun, but all Village Roadshow Theme Parks like Sea World, Wet 'n' Wild and Paradise Country for 12 months.
Communications Manager, Village Roadshow Theme Parks
P: +61 7 55738478
Stairway to heaven
The sight of sweeping Gold Coast beaches never gets old, especially when viewed from 270 metres above sea level. Adrenalin junkies have been trekking up the 298 stairs of the Q1 Tower's SkyPoint climb for five years, and now can experience the glittering Surfers Paradise coastline by night. The climb takes approximately 90 minutes to complete and costs $84 per person, running daily during school holidays, and on Friday and Saturday's in off-peak periods.
Head of PR and Internal Comms, Dreamworld, WhiteWater World and SkyPoint
P: +61 7 5605 8277
Cairns icon Sunshine Tower Hotel is celebrating 25 years with a multi-million-dollar makeover, including contemporary furnishings, a Chinese restaurant and a beauty salon. The 61 rooms comprising of standard and superior studio apartments and one-bedroom suites, come with simple yet stylish décor and furniture (think marble tiling and chocolate timber-look furnishings). Located in the heart of Cairns, a short walk from The Esplanade, prices start from $99 for a standard studio with a five-night minimum and range to $169 for a one-night minimum stay in a superior studio with a balcony.
Pip Miller PR
P: +61 7 419 681 543
Lamington National Park, tucked around 46 kilometres inland of the Gold Coast CBD, is interlaced with epic hiking trails and home to renowned O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat. Their Guesthouse is now a haven for walkers, with eight compact Hikers Hangout rooms available for trekkers to kick off their boots and rest after a day of exploring the lush surrounds. The cabin-feel fit out is cosy and homely, complete with an ensuite bathroom, a queen bed, and a balcony posing stellar views into the hinterland. There is no telephone or television and ideal for those wanting to disconnect. Rates start from $152 per night and include morning and afternoon tea and morning bird walk.
Public Relations, O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat
P: +61 7 5502 4900
Slide into summer
The Whitsundays may already be an aquatic paradise, but its latest edition, a mega Waterslide Park at BIG4 Adventure Whitsundays in Airlie Beach, is a family's dream. Featuring 13 colourful slides winding their way off a two-metre tall platform, large tipping buckets flowing into the pool area and smaller slides for little ones, the fun park covers the surface area equivalent to an Olympic swimming pool. The Waterslide Park, which is only accessible for resort guests, is the icing on what is already a heavily decorated cake, with offerings like 18-hole mini golf, outdoor cinema, tennis court, lagoon pool, two giant jumping pillows and more. The resort offers one, two and three-bedroom cabins, studios and powered camping and caravanning sites, with prices starting from $29 per night.
Sales & Marketing, BIG4 Adventure Whitsundays
P: +61 7 417 008 161
Stop. Cabana time.
It's a universally-known fact that cabana time means the feet go up, the outside world is zoned out and relaxation mode is activated. That's why Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort have introduced 'cabana culture' to their already luxurious offering. Five summery spaces by the resort pool can host up to four guests each, complete with a fresh fruit platter, a selection of magazines, personalised butler service and an iPad to select goodies from a bespoke menu. Prices start from $125 per cabana for a half day or $175 for a full day hire, and can be booked via the resort's website. Only available to resort guests.
The Red Republic
Step back in time
Ever wondered what life was like in a 19th century Australian village, a time when British settlement changed forever the aboriginal people's way of life? The new Spirts of the Red Sand experience in Beenleigh is a 2.5-hour journey through the 1800s, led by Jarrah, the only survivor of three Aboriginal brothers, based on the true story of his family. This interactive experience with indigenous culture takes up to 120 guests through seven sets of live theatre, like the Dreamtime, a precolonial village and a jail, with an 18-strong cast of direct descendants. The cast will join guests for a warm damper dinner in the dining hall when the show concludes. Located in the Beenleigh Historical Village, 45km from the Gold Coast CBD and 36km from Brisbane's CBD, tickets include transfers from either location, and start from $25 to $65 for kids and $120 for adults. The Spirits of the Red Sand experience will commence from December 1, though online pre-booking is now available.
Marketing Manager, Great Australian Experiences
P: 1300 259 016
Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises now have a big boat to boot. The new $430,000 glass bottom boat is the largest in Tropical North Queensland, re-engineered with bigger windows and uninterrupted coral views, seating 50 reef-goers. Owned and operated by the Wallace family since 1990, they enlisted local Naval architects GA Glanville to design the new addition. Big Cat Green Island tours depart from The Reef Fleet Terminal in Cairns and offer a variety of cruises and activities from half- and full-day ferry trips, snorkelling, scuba and helmet diving, to sunset and harbour cruises. Their 30-minute Glass Bottom Boat Tour and Cruise starts from $47 for kids aged 4-14 and $94 for adults, with the option to add on extra activities.
Sales & Marketing Manager, Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises
P: +61 7 417 753 317
Keep it reel
Long known as a camper's and fisherman's hub, the small town of Biloela is cheering for the opening of Lake Callide Retreat. Five self-contained cabins, powered sites and camping sites are perched around the Callide Dam, offering prime position to dive in, stand-up paddleboard, wet a line and fish for Barra or soak up the rural sun. The cabins are complete with a kitchenette, bathroom, reverse-cycle air-conditioning, a barbeque, Wi-Fi and veranda area. Prices start from $7 per night for campers and range to $120 per night for a cabin.
P: +61 7 4993 9010
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Author: Maddison Tanner
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