Queensland’s $400m long weekend
IT'S our national day but it's Queensland's weekend as the Sunshine State prepares to bask in a tourism goldmine.
The Australia Day long weekend has created a perfect opportunity for the state's tourism industry to cash in on an economic bonanza worth up to $400 million.
Not bad for three days work.
Across the state, hotels and resorts are hanging out ''no vacancy'' signs as a combination of fortuitous timing and idyllic weather play perfectly into the hands of Queensland tourism operators.
On the Sunshine Coast, there is barely a room available as holiday-makers grab the chance for one final fling of summer before the start of the school year next week.
It is a similar story up the length of the Queensland coast and comes after a lucrative holiday period for much of our coastal hot spots.
Tourism and accommodation statistics for January are not due to be collated for several weeks, but it is estimated the long weekend will generate about $380 million for the state's economy.
Australia Day traditionally generates a significant increase in average tourism spending when the public holiday creates a long weekend, as it does this year.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said a number of factors had come together to deliver an outstanding result for the state heading in to the long weekend.
"Every indication we have had is that this will be a very good period for tourism," Mr Gschwind said.
"The long weekend makes people more inclined to travel than if the holiday falls midweek and the excellent weather also inspires people to take a break, not to mention the day-trippers. There's a really good mood around the tourism industry at the moment.
"It has been an excellent summer, in terms of favourable weather, some outstanding events, and there have been very high levels of visitor spending, even for many businesses that may not even think they are part of the tourism industry."
QUEENSLAND'S BEST BARBECUE SPOTS
La Balsa Park, Sunshine Coast
This low-key locals favourite has prime position near the Mooloolah River Inlet. It boasts a good playground for the kids and great water views for the adults.
Dunk Island, Far North Queensland
It takes some effort to get there, but the rewards are plenty. A water taxi from Mission Beach takes you to Dunk Island and The Point, one of the best barbecue spots in the north.
Town of 1770
From Captain Cook to barbecue cooks, this has been a favourite with visitors for hundreds of years. One of the state's prettiest beachfront areas also delivers a free serving of Australian history, courtesy of its claim as a surprise stopping point for Captain Cook during his expedition to Australia almost 250 years ago.
Yeppoon Lagoon, Capricorn Coast
With tropical palm trees, a revamped foreshore and the allure of Great Keppel Island just offshore, this barbie location is quintessential Queensland. Cool off in the lagoon's infinity pool before taking the tongs to heat up the public barbecues.
Happy Valley, Caloundra
Nestled on the banks of Pumicestone Passage and just a stone's throw from top surfing breaks, this is an all-round winner. And if you butcher the barbecue, you can always head across the road to grab some fish and chips.
Rainbow Bay, Gold Coast
The Gold Coast's most southerly beach is also one of its most spectacular, but retains a laid-back beach village vibe (except when surfing's world tour stops by for two weeks in April).
The council-owned barbies here come with a brilliant view looking north with all of the Queensland coastline spread out before you.
Townsville's Strand has come a long way, but the region's best barbie outlook is on its tourism jewel, Magnetic Island. Plus, as an added extra, you get to tell your mates you're 'goin' to Maggie for a barbie'. You can't get much more Aussie than that.
Alexandra Headland, Sunshine Coast
Just near the memorial to the HMAS Brisbane is one of the state's most picturesque barbecue spots. Boasting sweeping views from Point Cartwright north to Noosa, it's even more beautiful at sunset.
Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays
You can't do a best beach barbecue list without including Queensland's most beautiful beach, the stunning Whitehaven in the Whitsundays. And now, thanks to an ingenious tour operator, you can take a day trip barbecue to this slice of paradise for a bucket list barbie. And you don't even have to pack the snags.
Beaches don't get much more iconic than Burleigh Headland. Any day of the year Burleigh Hill is packed with picnickers and families firing up the barbie. On Australia Day crowds start arriving not long after sunrise to stake out the best positions, but with such a spectacular setting, any position is pretty hard to beat.