PHOTO: Breathtaking sunset skyline at O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat in Lamington National Park
Welcome, fellow vegan travellers, to the vibrant state of Queensland, Australia! With its stunning landscapes, bustling cities, and diverse marine life, Queensland offers a paradise for those seeking a vegan-friendly adventure. In this travel blog, we will delve into six compelling reasons why Queensland should be at the top of your travel bucket list. Join us as we explore the vegan delights of Brisbane, the captivating beauty of the Gold Coast, the idyllic shores of Airlie Beach, climb Tamborine Mountain and escape to Lamington National Park, and the awe-inspiring wonder of the Great Barrier Reef.
This past May, I was lucky enough to be chosen to visit Queensland Australia as part of a small group of Canadian travel agents. We were invited to experience all this beautiful state in Australia has to offer and specifically to experience how vegan-friendly this destination can be. It was an exhilarating experience with some of the most amazing opportunities I’ve ever enjoyed in my life. I couldn’t wait to share them all with you, to help inspire your own bucket-list Australian adventure.
Here’s the description of Queensland right from their website:
“In Queensland, there’s plenty to do. But there’s even more to find. Like swimming through the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef among coral that’s thousands of years old, or getting lost in wonder as you explore the world’s oldest surviving rainforest. Up there, calling it a night means curling up in an eco-certified rainforest hideaway. Or drifting off to the sound of waves lapping at the shore of your own private carbon-positive island. Nestled amongst the Great Barrier Reef, obviously.
Maybe you’re going there to lock eyes with a gentle giant on the Humpback Highway, or come face-to-face with history at a dinosaur dig site in the Outback.
Wish you were sinking into the sandy shores of one of their pristine beaches, lost in a good book, with your “out of office” on? Don’t worry, they’ll save you a spot on the sand.
You’ve come to the right place.
Watch the sunrise on a beach empty except for the friendly local wallabies. Slip your snorkel on and help survey the reef with just your iPhone. Experience the wonder of new life as you watch baby turtles hatch on the shores of the beach their mother was born at. In Queensland, there’s so much more to do than just relax.
It’s probably not just the landscape you’re going there for, though. Pull up a stool at an historic country bar and have a yarn with the friendly locals. Or, slip away into the ancient rainforest with an Indigenous guide; Queensland is home to Australia’s two unique First Nations cultures – the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”
1. Brisbane: A Veggie Wonderland
PHOTO: View of Brisbane Skyline and Story Bridge from a River to Bay Cruise Boat
Our journey begins in Brisbane, the cosmopolitan capital city of Queensland. This vibrant metropolis boasts an array of vegan options that will leave you spoiled for choice. Brisbane's thriving vegan scene can be found predominantly in the West End district. As you wander through its bustling streets, you'll discover a multitude of vegan-friendly cafes, restaurants, and food markets.
One must-visit destination in West End on the Southshore is Boundary Street, which serves as the heart of Brisbane's vegan community. Here, you can indulge in mouthwatering plant-based treats that cater to all tastes. Craving a delicious vegan pizza? Head to a trendy pizza joint that offers a variety of plant-based toppings and melty vegan cheese. How about a satisfying vegan burger? You'll find several burger joints that specialize in meat-free patties made from mushrooms, lentils, or black beans. And don't forget to satisfy your sweet tooth with decadent vegan desserts like raw cheesecakes, bliss balls, and creamy vegan gelato.
Brisbane is also home to the famous Eat Street Northshore, a bustling night market that showcases an impressive selection of global flavors. While exploring the stalls, you'll be delighted to find numerous vegan options. From flavoursome tofu stir-fries to mouthwatering jackfruit tacos, you'll discover an array of vegan street food that will keep your taste buds dancing.
If you want a spectacular dining experience, you have got to hit Za Za Ta which is attached to the Ovolo The Valley. It is vegetarian Middle-Eastern cuisine, but their head chef is vegan and made the most exquisite meal for me on my last night in Brisbane. Reservations are strongly recommended. We can arrange these on your behalf when planning your ideal itinerary. Keep your eyes on our blog for a new post soon specifically about this outstanding establishment.
I recommend at least 2 days (if not 3 days) to truly experience all Brisbane has to offer.
2. Gold Coast: Sun, Surf, and Vegan Delights
PHOTO: View from our accommodations in the Gold Coast, Broadbeach
From Brisbane, make your way south to the captivating Gold Coast, a sun-soaked destination renowned for its golden beaches and thrilling attractions. It’s about an hour from Brisbane and makes a perfect side trip to any Queensland itinerary. The Gold Coast boasts an impressive array of vegan-friendly eateries that cater to all tastes, ensuring you'll never go hungry during your stay.
Surfers Paradise, the beating heart of the Gold Coast, is a vegan paradise. Here, you can enjoy a wide selection of plant-based dining options that range from trendy beachfront cafes to cozy vegan bistros. Start your day with a refreshing açai bowl topped with fresh fruits and crunchy granola or indulge in a vegan breakfast feast featuring fluffy pancakes, scrambled tofu, and crispy vegan bacon.
PHOTO: Brisbane Skyline View from a local Gold Coast beach
When hunger strikes in the afternoon, explore the vibrant dining scene of the Gold Coast. Visit local vegan restaurants that offer innovative plant-based dishes inspired by international cuisines. Whether you're craving a nourishing Buddha bowl packed with colourful vegetables, a flavourful Thai curry made with plant-based proteins, or a plant-based twist on classic fish and chips, the Gold Coast has it all.
My absolute #1 recommendation in the Gold Coast is Rick Shores. This stunning spot offers Pan-Asian flavours in one of the Gold Coast’s most iconic locations. And I am not joking about it. They can easily accommodate any dietary requirements and if you order from their set menu you get plate after plate of unbelievable vegan-friendly Asian-inspired cuisine while getting to enjoy the most spectacular views. Be prepared to never want to leave! haha. (you’ve been warned!)
PHOTO: Jason enjoying the beautiful views at Rick Shores restaurant in the Gold Coast
For an authentic Gold Coast experience, visit The Village Markets in Burleigh Heads. This bohemian-style market is a hub of creativity, showcasing an eclectic mix of fashion, art, and, of course, vegan food. Meander through the stalls and discover a treasure trove of vegan delights. Indulge in flaky vegan pastries, savor handcrafted vegan cheeses, and try innovative plant-based dishes that will tantalize your taste buds.
3. Airlie Beach: Gateway to the Whitsundays
PHOTO: Sunsetting on Airlie Beach, Queensland Australia
The next stop on our vegan journey is the breathtaking coastal town of Airlie Beach, the gateway to the world-famous Whitsunday Islands. While Airlie Beach may be known for its stunning scenery and aquatic adventures, it also offers a surprising range of vegan-friendly dining experiences.
Begin your day with a visit to one of the charming waterfront cafes, where you can enjoy a delicious vegan breakfast accompanied by panoramic ocean views. Start with a refreshing smoothie bowl bursting with tropical fruits, coconut, and granola. Or savor a stack of fluffy vegan pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and topped with fresh berries.
For lunch or dinner, explore the town's vibrant dining scene, where you'll find vegan-friendly options that cater to a variety of tastes. Indulge in plant-based sushi rolls filled with avocado, cucumber, and marinated tofu, or try nourishing Buddha bowls packed with vibrant vegetables, quinoa, and legumes. And don't miss the opportunity to sample refreshing vegan smoothies made with tropical fruits like mangoes and pineapple.
Airlie Beach is also home to a delightful array of vegan-friendly ice creameries. Cool down on a hot day with a scoop (or two!) of vegan gelato, made from locally grown fruits like mangoes and passion fruit. The tropical flavours will transport you to paradise while you stroll along the palm-fringed streets of this idyllic coastal town.
If you are cruising the Whitsundays be sure to check out their little cafe at the marina where the ships depart. It was convenient, had fresh food options and even a non-dairy panna cotta and oatmeal that was delicious with some fresh fruit.
4. Great Barrier Reef: A Majestic Underwater World
PHOTO: Jason sailing back to his ReefWorld Pontoon for a day of Adventures on the Reef
No visit to Queensland would be complete without immersing yourself in the awe-inspiring wonder of the Great Barrier Reef. This natural marvel stretches along the state's coastline and is a haven for marine biodiversity. As a vegan traveler, you can experience the wonders of the reef in an ethical and sustainable manner.
Embark on a guided snorkeling or diving tour that promotes eco-conscious practices. Choose operators who prioritize reef conservation, such as those that provide reef-friendly sunscreen and avoid damaging practices like anchoring on coral. These responsible tour operators are committed to preserving the fragile ecosystem of the reef, ensuring that future generations can also enjoy its magnificence.
PHOTO: A Marvelous School of Fish swimming at the Great Barrier Reef
As you explore the underwater world, be prepared to encounter a dazzling array of marine life. Swim alongside graceful sea turtles, admire the vibrant colours of the coral formations, and marvel at the majestic rays gracefully gliding through the water. The Great Barrier Reef offers an opportunity to connect with nature and gain a deeper appreciation for the delicate balance of marine ecosystems.
I was very lucky to be able to enjoy an incredible overnight experience on the reef called Reef Sleep. Imagine it: you venture out to a pontoon that is just off Hardy Reef and thenyou get to sleep out under the stars in your own personal tented bed.
We enjoyed extended snorkeling and diving and savoured the most incredible vegan-friendly dishes. . On this exclusive excursion, you are one of fewer than 20 people enjoying this overnight experience and getting to watch the sun set and rise in all its majesty right next to a Wonder of the World. This is an n experience not to be missed on your Queensland itinerary.
5. Tamborine Mountain and Lamington National Park: Nature's Vegan Oasis
PHOTO: Spectacular views from the various lookouts available on Tamborine Mountain
Located just a short drive from the Gold Coast, Tamborine Mountain and Lamington National Park offer a serene escape into the lush rainforests and breathtaking landscapes of Queensland. These pristine natural areas not only provide awe-inspiring beauty but also offer vegan travelers an abundance of opportunities to connect with nature and indulge in plant-based delights.
Tamborine Mountain, nestled in the Gold Coast Hinterland, is a hidden gem for vegan foodies and nature enthusiasts alike. The mountain village is home to a thriving vegan scene, with several cafes and restaurants catering to plant-based diets. Start your day with a visit to one of the charming cafes, where you can savor a freshly brewed cup of coffee or a fragrant herbal tea alongside a delectable vegan breakfast. From creamy avocado toast to fluffy vegan pancakes drizzled with maple syrup, you'll find a variety of delightful options to energize your day.
PHOTO: Jason enjoying the Australian rainforest at Curtis Falls
After breakfast, explore the vibrant arts and crafts scene that Tamborine Mountain is known for. Stroll through the Gallery Walk, a charming street lined with boutique shops and art galleries, where you can discover unique handmade treasures and locally crafted vegan products.
For nature lovers, Lamington National Park is a must-visit destination. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed park is renowned for its pristine rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking hiking trails. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on an adventure through the ancient Gondwana Rainforests, where you'll be surrounded by a symphony of wildlife and vibrant flora.
As you explore the park, be sure to pack a vegan picnic to enjoy amidst the natural beauty. You can find vegan-friendly provisions at local markets or specialty stores in nearby towns. Choose from an array of plant-based sandwiches, wraps, and salads filled with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Don't forget to savor some tropical fruits and energy-boosting vegan snacks to keep you fueled throughout your explorations.
Don’t want to pack your own picnic? No problem! We’ll introduce you to some expert day trip partners who can put together delectable picnic baskets and personalized itineraries to guide you through this wonderful part of Queensland. On our trip, we enjoyed a half-day excursion with Eco Safaris Queensland. We visited 3 or 4 different spots to experience this unique part of the state and had one of the best look out experiences on our itinerary.
If you're looking for a unique culinary experience, consider booking a vegan cooking class in the Tamborine Mountain area. Learn the art of plant-based cooking from skilled chefs who will guide you through the creation of delicious vegan dishes using seasonal and locally sourced produce. You'll not only expand your culinary skills but also gain insights into the sustainable and ethical aspects of vegan cuisine.
After a day of immersing yourself in nature and savoring vegan delights, unwind and rejuvenate at one of Tamborine Mountain's wellness retreats or eco-friendly accommodations. These tranquil havens offer a range of vegan-friendly amenities, from organic spa treatments to plant-based dining options. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the surroundings and reconnect with your inner self while being mindful of your ecological footprint.
6. Embracing Sustainable Tourism
Finally, Queensland’s commitment to sustainable tourism makes it an ideal destination for eco-conscious travelers. The state actively promotes ethical practices and initiatives that benefit both the environment and its inhabitants.
When choosing accommodations, look for eco-friendly hotels and resorts that embrace sustainable practices. Many establishments in Queensland have implemented recycling programs, energy-efficient systems, and initiatives to minimize waste. Some even offer vegan-friendly menus, sourcing their produce locally and supporting the region's farmers and producers.
During your travels, be mindful of the environment and follow responsible tourism practices. Respect wildlife habitats and observe from a distance, ensuring minimal disturbance to the animals and their natural behaviors. Avoid single-use plastics by carrying a reusable water bottle and shopping bag. Support local initiatives focused on conservation and protection, such as beach cleanups and wildlife rehabilitation centers.
Queensland, Australia, presents an enticing blend of vibrant city life, breathtaking coastal beauty, and natural wonders that are a dream come true for vegan travelers. From the bustling streets of Brisbane to the golden beaches of the Gold Coast, the idyllic shores of Airlie Beach, and the stunning underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland offers an unforgettable experience.
As you embark on your Vegan Vacation you'll discover an array of vegan-friendly dining options that celebrate the flavors of plant-based cuisine. Moreover, you can feel good about supporting destinations that prioritize sustainability and promote ethical practices. So pack your bags, indulge in delectable vegan delights, and immerse yourself in the wonders of Queensland, a true haven for vegan travelers.
Contact us today to start planning your Aussie Adventure!
PHOTO: "With Love From Brisbane" Sign at the Brisbane Airport
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