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Queensland is worth the time (and money)

You heard it from a kids’ perspective, and it’s true—Queensland is really pretty incredible. One of a kind, really, seeing as it’s the only place in the world with two World Heritage Sites side-by-side: the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest (the oldest rainforest in the world).

I recently wrote on the Tourism Queensland blog about how to realistically afford this must-see place on a budget—because let’s face it, Australia’s not exactly known for being affordable. But the two key to our experience being budget-friendly? The two little words camping and cooking.


Yep, we stayed at campsites—though really, they were incredible campsites and definitely fall under the “glamping” category—and we ate almost every meal at our homebase (which was the case with all of our time in Australia, actually).


It’s worth doing Queensland with kids because it’s pretty much the greatest field trip in the world. We learned about the 4,000 species of bugs in the rainforest alone, the 2,300 plant species (more than 670 are found nowhere else in the world), the four types of coral on the Reef, and the untold number of gorgeously colorful water life that calls the Reef home (you know—Nemo, Dory).

Giant Clam Great Barrier Reef


Tatum Great Barrier Reef




We were so glad to have a car rental during our week in Queensland—not only was it actually nice to go back to a certain normalcy, having used public transport for so much of our trip up till then—but it made slow travel much more possible. We could leisurely drive along Captain Cook Highway, picnic along the beaches, make trips to the grocery store, and explore the state on our own time. Worth the penny of petrol, easily.


Here are the fantastic resources we used to immerse ourselves in Queensland’s awesomeness—all are highly recommended:

Australia deserves its reputation for being pricey, but Queensland really is worth saving for. Fantastic family travel spot.

A big thanks to Tourism Queensland for generously sponsoring part of our time there! All opinions are my own.

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  1. Mandi Watts

    Thank you for this post! I am bookmarking it for when we are preparing for that part of our journey. Definitely seems like a neat place to visit! I’m especially excited about the camping (glamping!) opportunities! That’s right up our alley!

  2. Emily Dale

    I lived in Australia for 7 years and it is crazy expensive esp compared to the part of the US where I grew up and now live. BUT for me the food is definitely part of the experience of travel. Grocery stores are part of that but so are coffee shops, bakeries, & fish & chip shops. It would be a little different if you were living or staying with some locals, but it doesn’t sound like that was the case. I also get budgets so I’d love to here more of your thoughts on balancing cost vs cultural experience. Personally I’d go for flake and chips any day over some of the touristy things in Queensland or New South Wales (can you tell I’m married to a Victorian? ; )

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I might agree with you sometimes, Emily, except that on an extended trip like this, we were thrilled to finally cook for ourselves. We ate out almost exclusively during our two months in Thailand, since it’s so cheap and delicious there, so with Aussie sticker shock, it was a no brainer for us. 😉

    • Matthew Isabela

      Thank you for your post. Love your page!

    • Matthew Isabela

      Love your page! Very informative yet simple on its truest sense. Keep it up!

  3. LEE @ Modern Granola

    Wow this looks amazing! I have never been to Australia, but I’ve really been wanting to go lately. Queensland looks incredible.

  4. Stephanie @ EntreFamily

    Oh, it all looks so familiar! I loved driving the Captain Cook Highway. It was so gorgeous, it was hard not to drive off the road because we were too distracted by the scenery. And our time scuba diving at the reef was was one of the absolute highlights of our entire trip, especially for our two big kids. I’ll agree that Australia in general is crazy expensive, but still, I’d love to go back one day. 🙂

  5. Alysa

    EASILY my favorite place in the world and the one place I would choose to take my family back to (I went when I was 16).

  6. Jade Olsen

    I’m Australian and live in Brisbane (Queensland’s capital city) and even I agree that travel in this country is hugely expensive! It’s cheaper for me to go to Bali or Thailand than travel in my own country. Having said that, glamping is a very good option that I hadn’t considered previously. Can you believe I’ve only been as far north as Townsville? And that’s only because my brother lives there. I really should go further north and check out Cairns and Port Douglas. Maybe a glamping trip is on the cards for 2015!

  7. Rachael

    Hey another person from Brisbane here. We are expensive in Australia? Oh… Didn’t know that! I haven’t been to The Great Barrier Reef or the Daintree Rainforest. Actually I didn’t even know that it is the oldest rainforest in the world. Thanks for sharing. Maybe one day we might travel around in our own state!

  8. Karen Carlson

    I spent a summer in Queensland way back in 1996 (doing a study abroad program, living in and studying the rainforest) and I still think about it all the time! Thanks for bringing back those memories afresh and I’m so glad you all had such a great time. Really hoping we can go as a family someday 🙂

  9. Jacqui

    We road tripped around the eastern half of Australia a year ago with our six kids and a tent. Around Cairns was our favourite of all! If you are set up with a car, tent and stove, it is much more affordable. $50 a night in most caravan parks but there are a few good free camping grounds around which make it even cheaper. With the exception of fish and chips occasionally, buying food from supermarkets is a must!

    I recently bought a Scrubba wash bag (thanks to you!) it’s very useful on camping trips!

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