Gregg Homme
Queensland is a huge chunk of land comprising the northeast corner of Australia, and is four times the size of California.
Queensland is often sliced into more digestible segments for visitors to swallow. The upper coast is called Tropical North Queensland, with Cairns the jumping-off point for the rain forest and reef adventures of far north Queensland.

This region is also home to a spectacular resort which started out entirely aimed at gay men. OutUK's Ernie Alderete has been to see it all.

The sun sets over one of the Liberty Resort's pools.
In a land of superlatives, it is only appropriate to find what was once the largest gay and lesbian resort in the world, Liberty. The facilities and grounds are nothing less than magnificent. Two free-form swimming pools fringed by mature palm trees adjoin the enormous reception area and lobby, which are enclosed beneath a soaring A-frame roof. We’re talking airport hangar huge here, but remarkably, never impersonal. The grand shelter is well furnished with antique sofas, comfy chairs and coffee tables loaded with gay magazines creating a warm, personal and inviting space you might never want to leave.

Nowadays it's no longer exclusively gay, but it's still very gay friendly. "It was a bold and courageous concept that didn't work," says Liberty's original owner, Alistair Brown. "I think we focused too much on the Sydney party crowd and not enough on the more eclectic gay market." The global gay travel market is estimated at £31bn. But Mr Brown said the Australian market was not big or rich enough to sustain the business. So it's broadened its appeal - but there's still lots to enjoy.

The full service bar in the lobby faces both the dining area and the pool, and on one side features swim-up underwater bar stools! The romantic one and two bedroom private hardwood villas built on stilts are Polynesian in design, like you might expect to find in Hawaii or Tahiti. The grounds at Liberty Resort.
Every room is the epitome of tropical elegance. Colour cable TV in the two-level villas is featured both in the downstairs bedroom and the upstairs loft reached by ladder. The fine linens cocoon your body in style.

The chef at Liberty was always glad to whip up whatever I wanted, whether it was on the extensive menu or not. One of my favourite dishes is his Rib Eye Steak, which is served on a bed of mildly curried mashed vegetables. Of course fish dishes abound, often some reef fish you never heard of but will never forget. Breakfast is so good you can’t wait to open your eyes in the morning.

Facilities apart from the restaurant include a theatre area and a gymnasium with a steam room.

The breezy villas at Liberty are reasonably priced. Half the price of a deluxe hotel room in a major city. Liberty even offers shared bunkhouse accommodations for budget travellers.

There are of course plenty of other hotel options in all price ranges available in the area and you can get unbeatable offers from our hotel partners Bookings.

Spotting in Liberty's gym.

RAINFOREST & REEF

Liberty is located in the cool Tablelands a thousand feet above the coast. There's no beachfront, which is Liberty’s only fault, but it makes an excellent base of operations to visit the two top tourist sites in Queensland, the Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

It would border on insanity to miss visiting either the oldest rainforest in the world or the largest, at 1,200 miles long, barrier reef on the planet which is the only living thing visible from outer space.

The 2,300km-long ecosystem comprises thousands of reefs and hundreds of islands made of over 600 types of hard and soft coral. It's home to countless species of colourful fish, molluscs and starfish, plus turtles, dolphins and sharks.

Exploring the Rainforest with a 4WD.
The best way to initially get a feel for the Daintree Rainforest National Park is from above, aboard Skyrail, the longest, at five miles, cable car ride in the world. The four-person gondolas seem to glide through the clouds, affording you a perspective previously reserved only for the eagles that soar below you.

Daytrips to the reef feature a boat ride to the Frankland Islands, where you can spend hours snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, beach combing, hiking around the island with a naturalist guide, or just lounging on the sand while the staff cooks up lunch on portable stoves. Everything has to be carted in and out with each visit, as the ten thousand year-old Great Barrier Reef is a national park.


Skyrail over the rainforest.

GARDEN OF EDEN

Queensland is currently a virtual Garden of Eden. It's an oasis of calm and peace in a world beset by instability and problems. You can walk the streets virtually anywhere with little concern about safety. Public health services are efficient, roadways are well maintained, the streets are clean, water is safe to drink.
In effect, you have the exoticness of the third world combined with the security of the first. With a state government actively encouraging gay visitors, Queensland could well develop into the number one adventure tourist destination for gay travellers worldwide. Michaelemas Cay on the Great Barrier Reef off Cairns.

Queensland images supplied courtesy Tourism Queensland.

Revised July 2017.

 

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