Just how big is Queensland?

Do you know how big this state really is? No idea how much time you will need to tour it? Then you must read this if planning to visit Queensland!

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A long straight road right to the horizon, Queensland
When driving through Queensland
expect some long long long drives!

For those of you who didn't already know, Australia is big. Queensland, which is Australia's second biggest state, is a massive 1,730,648 km². It is hard to appreciate just how big this is from the map on this page.

So the important questions are:
Just how big is the state, and how long will it take to tour it?

Just how big is it?

It is big... really BIG. This should help to put things in perspective for you.

If it was its own independent country it would be ranked as the 18th biggest in the world - bigger than countries such as Iran, Mongolia, and Peru! It is 7 times bigger than the entire United Kingdom, about 5 times bigger than Germany, and almost 3 times the size of France.

A popular tourist route is from Brisbane (right down south on the coast), to Cairns (about 3/4 of the way up the coast). This journey is a staggering 1,750 kms! And that's not including any side trips, tours, or scenic routes, let alone heading inland to see the sites in there. To drive from the most southern point of the Queensland coast to the most northern is about 2,400 kms. Let's put this into perspective for you again:

2,400 kms is the distance from London to the Russian border! That's right across Europe!

How long will it take to tour Queensland?

Well this all depends on how much time and money you have in Australia. Due to its massive size, you could virtually spend a whole year touring (while stopping off and doing fruit picking jobs to charge your bank account up) this state, and still not have seen everything.

However, I doubt that that is very helpful to most people planning to tour QLD, so I will try to break it down into two different categories:

1. Only in Australia for a short time (less than 3 months)

If you are on a REALLY tight schedule, and if you only get to see two places, I would recommend seeing the Great Barrier Reef and Fraser Island. This would require spending 1 week in the state and would break down something like this:

  • Day 1:
    Transit, arriving and checking into your accommodation at the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Day 2 - 3:
    Two full days enjoying the reef and islands.
  • Day 4:
    Checking out, transit to Fraser Island, checking into your accommodation (or your tour 4WD).
  • Day 5 - 6:
    Two full days enjoying the island.
  • Day 7:
    Leaving the island and your transit to the next state or another country.

Close up of the head of a crocodile, teeth showing, swimming straight for the camera
Watch out for the croc's up north, they are man
eaters! But women, don't let that fool you, they
will still happily take a bite out of you too!

That is what I consider to be the absolute minimum that you could tour Queensland in. But let's face it, two destinations is not much of a tour (although it will still be an amazing time). You could fit more in by only spending 1 day on the reef and 1 day on Fraser island, but I wouldn't suggest it, both are destinations where you need a couple of days to enjoy just a small taste of what they have to offer.

If you have a little more time than just one week I would recommend you spend at least 2 weeks minimum. The extra week would allow you to also, for example, do this:

  • Day 1-7:
    As outlined above with day 7 being your transit day to Brisbane.
  • Day 8:
    A full day exploring Brisbane.
  • Day 9:
    A full day exploring the Sunshine Coast, 1 hour drive north of Brisbane.
  • Day 10:
    A full day exploring the Gold Coast/Surfers Paradise, 1 hour drive south of Brisbane.
  • Day 11 - 12:
    Tangalooma Dolphin Resort/Morton Island, a 1 hour ferry ride from Brisbane
  • Day 13 - 14:
    Byron Bay, a 2.5 hour drive south of Brisbane (technically in NSW, but hey, it is close and beautiful!)

Okay, so by this point, you've either done a nice 1 or 2 week tour of the state. For those of you who can spare an extra week or two I highly recommend it, there really is so much more to see and do!

2. In Australia for a longer time (3 months or longer)

If you are in the luxury position of being able to spend longer than 2 or 3 weeks in Queensland you are in for an absolute treat and the time of your life.

As already mentioned, one of the most popular trips people do in Australia is Brisbane to Cairns, an epic 1,750 km journey. There is so much to see and do along the way that I recommend spending a minimum of 4 weeks on this drive.

This would allow you to do the itinerary mentioned in the above section, but also with an extra 2 weeks spare to stop off at other great places.

And if you are really adventurous why not spend 3 months doing this trip? This gives you a chance to really see all that the coast has to offer and explore some inland areas as you go. If you need to you can stop somewhere for a month and do some fruit picking to get those extra dollars in your bank account!

So there you have it, 1 month minimum is what I recommend for all you backpackers. Enjoy the beauty that the state has waiting for you!

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