Fresh off the boat from 3 weeks over in Queensland, Australia, and my mind is still reeling.
Where to begin?
From the soft hustle and bustle of Brisbane and the Gold Coast to the heady silence of the Daintree Rainforest, from neverending sprawl of the Great Barrier Reef to the sheer remoteness of Cooktown in the far north, Queensland never ceased to amaze, astound and surprise.
But I think what stuck with the most about this vast chunk of Australia was just how colorful, vibrant and ALIVE it felt. Looking back through the thousands of photos I took (seriously, how do I take so many?) I can’t believe how much each and every one stands out, in one color or another.
As it turns out, Queensland is universally colorful.
Tucked away in New Zealand for the past 6 months, my color palette unknowingly shifted to greens and blues, two shades that dominate these islands.
But four hours flying west across three time zones not only brought me to a place where summer never ends, but also reawakened my love for bright colors, something I didn’t even know I was missing in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
3 weeks in the kaleidoscope that is Queensland barely scratched the surface, but it was enough for me to get a feel for the place, start to learn what makes things tick there, and of course, internally categorize my epic adventure through color, you know, like any normal person does, right? Right?!
Sigh, sometimes I think I will never understand the way my mind works.
But anyways, I digress. Let me take you on a visual and colorful journey to the ginormous region of Queensland.
Blue – Brisbane
My first stop in Queensland was Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city, which to be honest, I was a bit nervous about exploring, afraid it would be just another boring sprawling metropolis like so many cities around the world.
Lucky for me, Brissie has a really fun, young, laid-back vibe to it, with none of the stress or coldness I’ve encountered in other big cities.
Phew, what a relief!
Reflecting back on my adventurous days (and nights) getting to know Brisbane, my memories seem a bit blue – and I mean blue in a warm summery, might thunderstorm kind of way. In a weird way it reminded me almost of DC and hot summers in Virginia and Maryland, only on the far reaches of the other side of the world.
From kayaking the river to climbing the Story Bridge to rappelling down Kangaroo Point, the whole city seemed to twinkle blue. Or maybe just to me.
Grey – The koalas at Lone Pine
On a scale of 1 to 10, how weird is it that holding a koala was the most important thing I wanted to do in Australia?
Be honest here. I mean, look at them, OMG, I can’t even! Please excuse me while I have a total girl-animal-cuteness-overload-freak-out-moment.
Luckily outside Brisbane, there exists a magical land where you can cuddle koalas at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Every girl’s dream, am I right?
Observing these grey teddy bear animals is frankly boring and uneventful since the pretty much do nothing but nom some eucalyptus leaves and snooze the day away, but it was nonetheless exciting to get really close to them and see them yawn and wiggle around.
Cue girly squeals.
Turquoise – The Great Barrier Reef
Besides the koala cuddling, I was really really REALLY looking forward to visiting the Great Barrier Reef. I’m pretty sure I was a fish in a past life because I love being in the water, though growing up swimming in the cold murky waters of Virginia Beach left a lot to be desired.
As soon as I got my first glimpse of the sparkling turquoise waters of the reef, I knew I would be hooked. Putting on the snorkel and fins only affirmed what I already expected – this would be the highlight of my trip.
Speaking of color, I couldn’t believe how colorful the reef was. From the bright rainbow fish and coral to the neon giant clams to the magnificent shade of turquoise of the water itself, I was shocked.
Oh, and the best part? The helicopter flight over the reef itself. At boat level, you can’t really see or appreciate the great, neverending expanse of the reef like you can from the skies.
Oh, and did I mention sea turtles?
White – The Whitsundays and Whitehaven Beach
Ever since I joined the addicting world of Pinterest years ago, I’ve always dreamed of getting to see the famous Whitsundays for myself.
And if there was one beach calling to me, it would have to be Whitehaven, which I’m pretty sure wins the award for most beautiful beach in THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE HOLY CRAP.
Bereft of tourists who don’t want to make the long boat journey out to an undeveloped, protected beach, you can totally have a Leo moment, imagining you’ve discovered this amazing place all on your own.
Not to mention the sand is like powder, it’s really bizarre in a way, but it must be the softest, finest white sand I’ve ever encountered while traveling. Basically like a beach of cooking flour. Of course it was a bit blustery the day I visited which meant I was coated in sand from head to toe after only a few minutes, and I’m pretty sure I was shaking it out of my bag and cleaning it from my ears days after returning to the mainland.
I can think of worse souvenirs though, how about you?
Yellow – The Gold Coast and #Room753
Synonymous with parties, beaches and theme parks, I really had no idea what to expect when I arrived at Peppers Broadbeach for a week at #Room753 on the Gold Coast.
Lucky for me, it was 7 days of pure awesomeness, taking in the cute shops and tasty restaurants and hip bars of Broadbeach, to exploring the different yellow sand beaches and markets around town, and of course beach time.
The Gold Coast pretty much has everything you could want for a vacation, plus no shortage of amazing sunsets and sunrises, which you all know I am a big fan of.
Not to mention the rainbows. I don’t know if it was just me, but man I got to witness some remarkable rainbows on the Gold Coast. It sure added a finishing touch of perfection to an already amazing week.
Where have you seen the best rainbow?
Orange – Nemos on Lady Elliot Island
If you thought I was excited getting to hold a koala, you should have seen my reaction when my boat driver on Lady Elliot Island casually mentioned there was a large colony of clownfish just over yonder.
Popping my head up faster than you can say “crikey” I sputtered through my snorkel, “Nemos?! WHERE?!”
I proceeded to spend the next half an hour playing games with the different Nemos popping in and out of the anemone colonies, taking heaps of video that I’ll never use while quoting Finding Nemo in my head.
Sounds about right.
Green – The Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation
After two weeks of exploring the coasts and magnificent beaches around Queensland, I really wanted to see more of the diverse region, and chose to head back to the far north to the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest in the world.
Forget swimming on those beaches, you’re in gator country now.
From getting to sleep in the rainforest at the Daintree Ecolodge to roadtripping via ferry across to wild Cape Tribulation, I think for an entire week I was pretty much sheltered underneath an ancient rainforest canopy.
My god, it even smelled green out there.
Red – The Outback to Cooktown
While I didn’t have enough time to go properly deep into the Outback while in Queensland, I did get a little taste driving the inland road from Port Douglas to Cooktown.
I mean sweet jesus, that 3 hour drive made New Zealand look populated. I think I saw 10 cars *maybe* but plenty of kangaroos.
Since March was still the wet season in the far north in Queensland, the drive was still relatively green. But passing through various farmlands and tracks, I began to notice the iconic umber and burnt orange soil.
Since Cooktown is basically the end of the known world in northern Queensland, all roads out of it aren’t paved or sealed, which means after a little adventuring (nobody tell Hertz), my rental car was proper red and filthy.
Just how I like it.
Pink and Purple – Sunsets at Palm Cove
I went out with a bang on my last few days in Australia at Peppers Palm Cove just 20 minutes north of Cairns. Beautiful beaches, palm trees, hot weather, and relaxation was just what I needed to wind down and begin to process an amazing trip.
Somehow the weather was on my side and for 3 days I was treated to both a perfect sunrise and sunset. I’m talking fiery pink clouds, purple skies and orange lines.
While I had to come to terms with actually having to leave paradise, it was great to have Queensland show off and give me one last parting hooray before I had to leave.
It was also a good reminder of how much I fell in love with this area of Australia, knowing that one day I would definitely be coming back.
After all, there are plenty more colors out there, right?
Have you been to Queensland or Australia? Are any of these places on your dream travel list? Where’s the most colorful place you’ve ever been?
Many thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland for hosting me in Australia, like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own, like you could expect anything less from me!