Following months of park closures and restrictions across the state, the Department of Environment and Science (DES) is inviting Queenslanders of all ages and fitness levels to get back outdoors and explore their ‘own backyard’ of national park treasures. In June, a new phase of the Think outside campaign was launched, promoting day and overnight visitation to Queensland National Parks and joining efforts to bring back visitation to different regions across the state. The campaign is jam-packed with new information focusing on active experiences, such as walking, hiking, kayaking, and much more, to help Queenslanders embrace nature during the milder months by participating in ‘green exercise’. To get started, visitors can find inspiration on the Think outside campaign website, sign up to the new Queensland National Parks e-newsletter and follow the Queensland National Parks Facebook and Instagram pages for latest news and campaign updates.
Continuing from its first instalment in 2019, the campaign still has a strong focus on camping and provides a range of helpful tips and tools to make planning a camping trip easy––whether you’re a family of novice campers looking for an easy getaway, a group of experienced mates looking to go off the grid, or a couple looking for a quiet nature escape. Queensland National Parks want to inspire all Queenslanders to ‘Think outside’, get out and active, and create memories to last a lifetime in the magnificent protected areas in our state. While the primary focus of the campaign is on families, there’s lots of tailored information that will appeal to other audiences.
Finding your next ‘green exercise’
With spring just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to put on the hiking boots and embrace Queensland’s natural treasures. Spending time in nature is not only a great way to connect with family and friends and explore new destinations; stepping outside and connecting with the natural world is one of the best ways to look after our mental and physical well-being. What’s more, a walk in nature is also a great way to reach 10,000 steps a day! With more than 13 million hectares of protected areas across the state, including over 1000 national parks, state forests and conservation parks, more than 400,000km² of marine parks, and five World Heritage Areas, Queensland National Parks provide countless opportunities to get your daily nature dose while keeping a safe social distance.
Around 150 inspirational blogs on the Think outside website have been carefully crafted to take the think-work out of planning your next Queensland National Parks trip, with plenty of itineraries, recommended activities and information to help Queenslanders find their next outdoor experience.
Visitors can pick from short walks and multi-day hikes to kayaking along our stunning pristine coastlines and waterways, or exploring the history and biodiversity of parks and forests across the state. There are plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained with day-trips to one of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS)-managed attractions across the state. Join Park Rangers for wildlife shows and presentations at David Fleay Wildlife Park at West Burleigh or Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre at The Gap, in south-east Queensland, explore underground lava tubes and caves in the Outback, or experience natural encounters on a Ranger-led wildlife tour at Mon Repos or Mount Etna. These are all great opportunities to learn more about the conservation and preservation of Queensland’s unique wildlife and protected areas. The website also has a new series of walking and hiking content with all the tools, tips and tricks to get Queenslanders prepared for their next (or first) hike in Queensland’s parks and forests. With so many different activities and locations to choose from, spending more time in nature should be on every Queenslander’s 2020 bucket list.
Before embarking on your next outdoor adventure, always remember to check Park Alerts, read up on any changed conditions due to COVID-19, pack enough food and water, and be sun safe all year round.
Camping to connect with family and friends
Queensland National Parks are places of exceptional beauty, incredible biodiversity and natural and cultural significance. From World Heritage rainforests to pristine islands and coastlines, rugged outback oases and ancient mountain ranges, camping in one of Queensland’s parks and forests is a special experience – sometimes right on your doorstep!
With around 500 camping areas, Queensland National Parks serve up an impressive menu of camping locations for all experience levels. The Think outside website offers useful tips and helpful advice when it comes to finding and booking the right camp site, packing the camping essentials, and heading off to experience the natural magnificence of Queensland’s parks and forests. With the school holidays just around the corner, there’s plenty of time to get the family organised for a Queensland National Parks camping trip, and find a holiday spot closer to home this season. Information on the campaign website allows campers to identify their ideal camping experience within a few hours’ drive from key centres across the state, covering all tourism regions.
All that’s left to do is gather friends and family, get a camping permit, pack up the tent, camper trailer or caravan and head off to create memories to last a lifetime – after all, camping is a 1000-star experience!
Experiencing parks virtually
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service is continually looking at new ways to educate and build advocacy and awareness for protected areas through digital channels. A brand-new Queensland National Parks ‘Naturally Queensland’ e-newsletter was launched in June, promoting park visitation, QPWS attractions and educational pieces. The e-newsletter also features QPWS Ranger profiles to highlight the diverse roles of our Park Rangers across the state. Sign up to hear more Queensland National Parks stories.
The MyRanger app is another innovative approach to enhancing the visitor experience through new technologies. The pilot app is designed to act as a ‘Ranger in your pocket’, offering Ranger-guided virtual tours, interactive maps, augmented reality, species information and gamification elements. Visitors can explore two parks – Springbrook National Park and David Fleay Wildlife Park – learning about ancient Gondwana rainforest, the local wildlife and threatened species, all from the Park Ranger’s perspective. At David Fleay Wildlife Park, visitors can also follow a cultural tour narrated by the local Indigenous Ranger and learn about traditional land use and cultural practices. The MyRanger app is free to download on iOS and Android.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service has also teamed up with Google to bring the outdoors inside! Thanks to the Google Trekker technology, virtual travellers from anywhere in the world can explore some of Queensland’s most-loved national parks – right from the comfort of their own homes.
With a 22kg Google Street View Trekker backpack strapped to their back, QPWS staff hiked up mountains, through valleys, into forests and around heritage sites, capturing 360 degree vision as they went. They also captured footage from a vehicle driving along national park roads. Thanks to their efforts, virtual travellers can now explore World Heritage rainforest, historic forts and heritage sites and even limestone caves deep underground! The sites include walking tracks and boardwalks, cycling trails and scenic lookouts in national parks around the state. Visit the website for all the links to Google Maps for the park locations captured.
With so many different tools to choose from, finding inspiration for your next outdoor adventure is easy! So head to the Think outside campaign website and start exploring!
Think outside website: www.lifesbestmoments.des.qld.gov.au
MyRanger app: parks.des.qld.gov.au/things-to-do/virtual-tours/myranger-app
Google Trekker: parks.des.qld.gov.au/things-to-do/virtual-tours/google-street-view-trekker