Monday, 14 November 2016

What's New in Queensland in 2017

As Queensland gears up to celebrate the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Australia's Sunshine State welcomes a host of new accommodation options, attractions and experiences in 2017.

From luxury villas on an Outback station and sleeping with sharks in Tropical North Queensland to welcoming the world's best at four new blockbuster events and sailing the Great Barrier Reef from Cape Tribulation – here are 9 new reasons to (re-)visit Queensland in 2017:


Queensland is gearing up to host the largest sporting event in Australia this decade and 2017 will see a flurry of activity and festivities with the celebration of one year out from GC2018 (4 April 2017) and the start of the worldwide baton relay from Buckingham Palace through 70 Commonwealth nations to Australia.

From 4-15 April 2018, 6,600 athletes and team officials from 70 nations and territories will flock to the Sunshine State for GC2018. Billion-dollar infrastructure projects and the completion of sporting venues are well underway and the Gold Coast is buzzing with excitement fuelled by a growing scene of creatives and young entrepreneurs opening new businesses – from restaurants and funky cafes to art galleries and designer boutiques.


2016 saw a flurry of new hotel openings in Brisbane with many more opening their doors in 2017. Add to this some great new restaurants, urban haunts, two new events and one major exhibition and you start to understand why Brisbane will be THE place to visit in the new year.

New hotels expected to open in 2017: W Hotel is finally making its way to Queensland with the construction of a $800 million, 305-room six-star hotel in Brisbane's CBD, expected to open on 22 December 2017. Emporium 2 – The Emporium Hotel Group's new five star, 146-room hotel in South Bank is scheduled for completion in late 2017. The redevelopment of the Howard Smith Wharves into a five-star, 164-room boutique Art Series Hotel, alongside urban chic restaurants, cafes, coffee-roasting and a craft brewery – all located under Brisbane's iconic Story Bridge - is scheduled to be unveiled in mid-2017.


A new luxury Outback lodge is set to open on North Queensland's Mount Mulligan Station in mid-2017. The 12 luxury accommodations will boast majestic views of the stunning 400m high cliff face (ten times larger than Uluru) and offer guests a bespoke and world-class experience of a working Outback station.
If you're more drawn towards the colourful underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef, visit the Cairns Aquarium (set to open in April 2017) where the sleepover experience allows you to snuggle into bed with hammerhead sharks and their mates circling you in their open ocean lagoon (if you dare!).
You can also bunker down in one of 15 new environmentally sustainable safari tents planned for the Green Mountain Campground in the World Heritage-listed Lamington National Park – a rainforest system that's been around for 100 million years. The safari tents have rainforest and mountain views and will be operated by O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat. Construction is set to begin mid-2017.


Have you ever been to the Near North Coast? Chances are you have. The year 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the official naming of the Sunshine Coast under the Queensland Act on 1 August 1967, replacing the term 'Near North Coast'. With activities and celebrations planned for 2017, it's time to revisit the Sunshine Coast. If you think you've seen it all, escape to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Learn about the region's fresh local produce on a tour through the Hinterland where you'll meet the producers. Harvest, spin and taste honey with the help of Paula West – or Queen Bee – who is saving the world one honey bee at a time with her Adopt A Beehive social enterprise. Then, travel to Brouhaha Brewery in Maleny and meet Head Brewer and Founder, Matt Jancauskas who is using local ingredients such as finger limes, sour cherries and raspberries to create different saisons that will convert even the most discerning wine drinker. At the end of a great day, get up close with Maxi, Gracey and all the other camels at the Sunshine Coast's only camel farm, QCamel during a Camels and Canapes tour – all to the backdrop of the majestic Glasshouse Mountains.


From 1 April 2017, Sailaway will expand its operations to Cape Tribulation offering a premium sailing experience to the outer Great Barrier Reef. 
Step onto the sandy beach of Cape Tribulation in the Daintree National Park and clamber aboard Sailaway's luxury sailing catamaran for a relaxed eco-adventure to the outer Great Barrier Reef. The full-day tour includes guided snorkelling tours with a marine biologist and glass bottom boat tours to the pristine reefs of Mackay and Undine Coral Cays. 


Caravans and camping holidays are back in vogue with Tourism Research Australia releasing data showing the largest growth in the history of data collection for domestic caravanning and camping trips. And it's the not-so-grey nomads (20-29 year olds) who are fuelling the growth, accounting for 18 per cent of caravanning and camping trips (up 19 per cent) for the year ending June 2016. This means it's time to hit the road in 2017. Don't know where to go? We've scoped out the best caravanning itineraries and camping spots for you here.


2017 marks the 80th anniversary of the famous Stinson Plane crash. 
To commemorate the anniversary of the Stinson airliner disappearance on 19 February 1937 and to celebrate the life of Bernard O'Reilly, who heroically saved the lives of two plane crash survivors, O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat is hosting two walks on 17-19 February. Follow in the footsteps of Bernard O'Reilly and gather at the crash site to listen to a history talk and enjoy some fresh billy tea. Afterwards, indulge in a vino-therapy spa treatment (hey- you deserve it!) and retreat to your private villa overlooking the World Heritage-listed rainforest.


In 2017, we expect to see more eateries popping up in the laneways across Toowoomba. Imagine the atmosphere of a food festival in a Melbourne laneway. That's the kind of vibe you can expect when you head to Walton Stores in Toowoomba. This new urban haunt is thriving with energy from an eclectic mix of cafes, laneways, restaurants, shops and boutiques that pay homage to the historic area while staying contemporary. Tip: Head to Full Of Life Organics for the best chai latte in Southern Queensland Country. Coffee in hand, check out Australia's largest outdoor galleries. Toowoomba's streets and laneways are home to over 55 street art murals.

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