Let’s be honest, quirkiness is an attribute not often highly sought after when booking accommodation. The bare necessities usually factor much higher in the ‘must-have’ column for finding places to stay.
But in our newfound age of trendy travel experiences, quirky, unusual and extreme are the new ‘breakfast included’, ‘late check-out’ and ‘free Wi-Fi’ of holiday accommodation.
And when it comes to being different, Queensland puts the ‘q’ into quirky with a plethora of unexpected and distinctive places to stay.
From sleeping smack-bang on the Great Barrier Reef to cosying up in an igloo bunker or dozing above ancient volcanic lava holes and going back to school, these are the quirkiest accommodation options in Queensland.
Old School House B&B and Mud Bath Oasis
School’s out forever at the Old School House in Mackay (formerly Septimus State School), so you can sleep easy without fear of an early-morning roll call. Sprinkled with decor harking back to its academic heyday, the renovated and spacious 4-star en-suited rooms are available for rent as B&B rooms, or you can rent the entire home.
Perennial rascals should book into the Detention Room, before reporting to the Principal’s Office (the kitchen) for dinner. Book nerds, make a beeline for The Library. If you’ve been particularly well-behaved, then take a soak in the outdoor mud baths with an extra gold star in the form of a glass of bubbles.
When the Cainozoic Era came to stay – it’s the era we’re rocking right now, FYI – it brought along with it the geological formations that comprise the modern-day Undara Experience lava tubes. How the lava tubes were formed is a downright cool story (and they are well worth exploring), but if you want to sleep atop them, you can do that too.
The collection of restored turn-of-the-century carriages are set along the original Cobb & Co. coach road, and are available in queen, double and twin.
Old Church B&B
Say your prays and head to the Old Church B&B in Boonah for a memorable stay in this historical place of worship. Sitting in the heart of Queensland’s stunning Scenic Rim, this old church dates back to 1874 imbuing the modern makeover with a generous helping of character and old world charm.
There are plenty of activities to busy yourself with during the day (think sourdough baking, wine and walking tours, and joy flights) before retiring to your holy quarters. Amen to that!
Low on actual possums, high on quirk factor, Possum Park in Miles was once home to a top secret bomb store designed to keep the enemies at bay.
With a set of underground bunkers, restored troop trains and an igloo (yes, you read right) converted to sleeping quarters, Possum Park is 340 kilometres west of Brisbane, and well worth every minute on the road.
Takarakka Bush Resort
No trip through Queensland is complete without a stay in a bush resort, so Carnarvon Gorge’s Takarakka Bush Resort ticks that box handily.
Accommodation ranges from en-suited safari tents to self-contained cottages and studio apartments, but the ensuite configuration is where Takarakka fulfils the unusual brief. Constructed from a cylindrical corrugated-iron water tank with a resin floor, one-half of the tank is home to the toilet, and the other home to the shower.
Where: O’Briens Road, Carnarvon Gorge
Ph: 07 4984 4535
Sunlover by Starlight
This is sleeping with the fishes minus the The Godfather overtones but with plenty of once-in-a-lifetime quirk.
Roll a swag out under the stars as you float above the the Great Barrier Reef’s kaleidoscope of aquatic life below. Perched on the Moore Reef Pontoon, 40 kilometres off the coast of Cairns – which by day is a fun-filled aquatic playground – the Sunlover by Starlight sleep-out is accommodation bucket-list fodder.
Gilberton Outback Retreat
If the sound of sleeping in a tin shed without walls, in the middle of the outback, sounds like something best left to the Croc-Dundee wannabes of the world, then you need to check out Gilberton Outback Retreat.
Upping the ante on the classic Australian structure these luxe rooms are an outback bliss hunter’s dream. Get your beauty sleep, under a mozzie net, after soaking in the luxurious bathtub with panoramic views out over the Gilbert River.
Robinson Crusoe, eat your heart out. At first glance, Pelorus Island may seem like it’s all Survivor-style roughing it, but stay a night on this Great Barrier Reef beauty and you’ll fall instantly in love.
On the pebbly beach, smoothed by the gentlest of warm sea breezes, is where you’ll lay your camp stretcher and swag beneath a brilliantly bedazzled night sky to fall asleep to the sound of lapping waves and swaying palms. It’s all your island vibes dreams come true.
Where: Access to Pelorus Island, off the coast of Townsville, is via private boat or on this camp and dive safari with Remote Area Dive.
What’s in a name? Everything, when it comes to the very appropriately named Quirky Cottages, sitting eccentrically just off the Queensland coast on the equally idiosyncratic Coochiemudlo Island.
Painted in a rainbow of retina-popping colours, and with decor to tickle the fancy of even the most dedicated peacock/bowerbird, Quirky Cottages is a shoo-in for the most outrageous place to stay in Queensland. But it has to be seen to be believed, so just book it.
Jabiru Safari Lodge
Forget flying all the way to Africa for a safari experience, Queensland’s Mareeba Wetlands Jabiru Safari Lodge is pretty darn close to the real thing, minus the big cats.
Fall asleep to the sound of teeming, abundant wetland, before waking to the morning sun peeking through the open (mosquito-netted) walls of your deluxe safari tent. Each little hut even has it’s own deck – complete with barbecue, umbrella and deck chairs – for relaxing with a cheeky sunset champagne, of course.
Or you could kick back in the lodge’s spa jacuzzi, nestled into the bush, to recover from your day of strenuous activities like birdwatching, canoeing and wildlife safari adventures.