The Queensland leg of Network 10's Amazing Race may be over, but for the 600,000 Aussies who tuned in for six nights to follow contestants as they scampered around four tropical islands, three Indigenous experiences, one outback adventure and a hyper coloured Great Barrier Reef, the series has provided plenty of inspiration to get off the couch and see Queensland IRL (in real life).
From Cairns in the far north to Kirra Beach on the Gold Coast, here's how to recreate your own amazing Queensland race … without once having to raise a sweat nor clean turtle poop.
- Welcome to Country: A TV series that opens with a 60,000-year-old welcome in the middle of the world's oldest rainforest sets the right tone for an Aussie adventure. Meet the face of the opening scene and join proud Kuku Yalanji Man, Juan Walker of Walkabout Cultural Adventures, on a half-day tour that follows a typical outing for a 10 year old Kuku Yalanji child. Listen to stories of his culture as you walk through ankle-deep tidal waters foraging for the planet's oldest food sources; mud crabs, cockles and stingrays.
- Set your afternoon session on a shady veranda: There's a tipple challenge at the Mossman Exchange Hotel (incidentally rated on Trip Advisor as the #1 pick in Mossman for grilled food), but the entire Cairns region is dotted with heritage hotels propped up by friendly locals. Try the Court House Hotel in Port Douglas or the Grand Hotel Cairns.
- Surf the southern Gold Coast: No trip to Queensland is complete without a visit to the Gold Coast, a destination hailed by the show host as “Australia's adrenalin capital filled with thrill rides and slides, home to some of the best surf breaks on the planet.” Newbies and rookies can point their board at Go Ride a Wave, Get Wet Surf School or Surfing Services Australia to learn how to surf the swells.
- Slide into an endless Gold Coast summer: Wet'n'Wild's Aqualoop is a gut wrenching 40-foot vertical freefall drop that ejects thrill seekers from a trap door down a transparent slide at an insane 60km/hour. Go further than the Race contestants did and tick off other thrill slides like the Tornado, Constrictor, and Kamikaze the Triple Vortex at nearby White Water World. Tip: you might want to leave the fastest ride, The Wedgie, until last.
- Go Outback to Winton: This tiny Outback town about 1.5 hours' flight west of Brisbane punches above the combined weight of its 1600 residents. Winton is home of the nation's unofficial anthem, Waltzing Matilda, (The song was first performed at the iconic North Gregory Hotel spotted in one episode) and there's anmuseum dedicated to the tune. The town is also the backdrop for three seriously good events. The Winton Way Out West Fest in April brings Aussie music legends to perform in traditional pub settings, The Vision Splendid is an ode to the film industry and a small town in which just about every resident has jagged a movie cameo, and The Outback Festival a hilarious event headlined by the Dunny Derby. This is a high stakes Ben Hur style race has runners dragging old fashioned Outhouses around the town. If you don't believe us tune in to the TV show.
- Dig a Dinosaur: 95 million years ago, the landscape around Winton was littered with cycads and dinosaurs roamed outback Queensland in huge numbers. Some of them, like the fondly dubbed "Clancy" and "Banjo" have since been dug from the ground, rebuilt and are now on show at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs. This is the only place in Australia where travellers can get down and dirty with dinosaurs, even signing up to dust off giant bones or take part in a paid dinosaur dig.
- Bush camp on a sheep station: Closer to Longreach lies Camden Park Station, a working sheep and cattle station with a gracious old homestead housing the oldest private ballroom in the Outback. This is the sameb place that a younger Queen Elizabeth visited and is said to have remarked, “Where else in the world can you stand in a landscape and see 360 degrees right around and see nothing man made?' Like our race contestants, visitors can take a guided tour and meet a real outback pioneer.
- Townsville Tripping: Townsville gets 320 days of sunshine each year and the best place to see its radiance is from Castle Hill, a towering monolith used for one frightning challenge. The city is also famous for nearby Magnetic Island – named by Captain James Cook when he noted a magnetic effect on his compass as he sailed by in 1770 - and a jump off point for the new Museum of Underwater Art. This magnificent art installation submerged beneath the clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef features 20 life-sized sculptures that pay homage to sustainability.
- Island time: The Great Barrier Reef is made up of 3000 individual reef systems and 600 beautiful tropical islands. In the sixth and final episode of the Queensland leg, contestants stop at two Great Barrier Reef islands both off the coast of Cairns. The family-friendly Fitzroy Island is renowned for two things: a remarkable snorkel trail that parallels the beach (putting you goggles to snout with a marvellous turtle) and guided tours of the nearby Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. Here, majestic creatures like Lou recuperate in five-star suites.
- Go for Green: Ending the Queensland leg on a high note is Green Island, a gem-toned rainforest-coated island just 45 minutes ferry ride from Cairns. Long a tourist destination noted for its colourful fringing reefs, Green Island offers helmet diving and can also be the location for one of the funkiest adventures the world over: Great Adventure's SCUBA-DOO diving.
So, there you have it. On screen or in real life, Queensland inspires with amazing adventures.
Editor's note: For the latest information on COVID-19 travel restrictions in Queensland, click here.
Images (please note credit and disclaimers as per file name): https://www.dropbox.com/sh/3og576o2nb19j3l/AADKJeZYcXKR-w5VVq5--Rhna?dl=0HERE
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