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The basics
Australia: Destination Guides

The ultimate student guide to North East Australia

Want to study in North East Australia? Discover all that you will need to know about the region with our detailed guide, from the cities of Queensland to the stunning Great Barrier Reef.

Map of Australia, highlighting its various cities and rivers, plus the bodies of water off its coastlines

Choose North East Australia (Queensland) for your study abroad experience, and you’ll have a million-year-old rainforest on your doorstep. You’ll also have access to the largest reef in the world – the Great Barrier Reef. Stunning natural phenomena are everywhere you look, and they aren't the only things you’ll have to enjoy. Studying in North East Australia offers endless adventure, all the way across its varied landscape of busy cities and peaceful towns.


North East Australia is also home to several globally esteemed universities. As a student, you can enjoy secure study locations, employability opportunities and innovative learning communities.


What is North East Australia like?

Location and demographics 

Queensland is the second-largest state in Australia. It covers over 1.8 million square kilometres, and the coastline is nearly 7,000 kilometres long. Because of its size, the climate across the region is diverse. You can travel from tropical rainforests and mountain ranges through to deserts and savannahs.


The state also has the third-largest population in the country, with more than 5.2 million people. Most live in the southeast of the region along the coast. It’s very multicultural, where almost 30 per cent of the inhabitants are from other countries.


Do you want to know what makes Australia such a unique study destination?


Culture and history 

A lot of Queensland’s culture comes from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They have inhabited the area for tens of thousands of years, and more than 90 language groups have evolved from these communities.


After the British colonised Australia in the 18th century, the country changed greatly but has since become independent. With the invasion came an influx of different cultures that shaped the country we see today. You’ll see a lot of Western influence, as well as the rich history of the native people. It’s a fairly conservative state.


Queensland is well known for its beaches (Gold Coast), tropical islands (Whitsunday) and indigenous and contemporary art, dining, and other cultural activities.


Famous people you might recognise from North East Australia include:

● P. L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins

● Cathy Freeman, the first Australian indigenous person to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games

● The Bee Gees, the musical trio who wrote and sang the song ‘Stayin’ Alive’


Want to know more about the notable people of the region? Discover the famous alumni of Australian universites


What cities are in North East Australia? 

Brisbane is the main city in the region and the state capital. It’s a laid-back, urban location with a thriving art, music, and dining scene. People in Brisbane enjoy sunny skies throughout the year, along with a warm, alfresco lifestyle.


Cairns is another major city. It’s close to the Great Barrier Reef, World Heritage-listed rainforests, and Australian Outback savannahs. Tropical Cairns is friendly, relaxed, and easy to get around.


There’s also the Gold Coast, a seaside city with 70km of sandy beaches. It’s vibrant, culturally diverse and a surfer’s paradise. Other cities include the Sunshine Coast, Townsville, Ipswich, and Toowoomba.


Read more about the best student cities in the world. 


How much does it cost to live in North East Australia?

Student life in Queensland offers more affordable options than in cities like Sydney. There are diverse locations to choose from, so you should be able to live a fun and comfortable life while keeping to your budget. If you decided to study in Gold Coast you will need an average of AUD 21,000 per year. Your two biggest costs will be accommodation and food. 


Explore how much it costs to study in Australia


What services are there? 

Travelling around the major cities in Queensland and the region itself is easy. There’s an extensive transport network where you can use busses, trains, ferries, roads and motorways.


Brisbane Airport is the main international airport in North East Australia, connecting to destinations worldwide. It’s the third-busiest airport in the country.


Are you interested in applying for a student visa in Australia?


What are the post-study options?

The state of Queensland has the third-largest economy across states in Australia. As a result, it offers many benefits to international students and other people who move to the area to live, work and study. 


The region's industry strengths include agriculture, construction, tourism, international education, insurance, banking, and mining. Thanks to the reputation of Queensland’s universities, graduates are often in high demand by employers in these industries and beyond.


Get the information you need to apply for a post-study visa and the top graduate careers in Australia. 


Which universities are in North East Australia?

Queensland has several higher education institutions and high-ranking universities. These include:

● University Of Queensland – based in Brisbane and founded in 1909, the university ranks 50th in the QS World University Rankings 2023, and 54th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

● Bond University – a leading independent university in the City of Gold Coast, often ranking first for student experience in Australia.

Central Queensland University – founded in 1967, the university has a five-star rating for teaching, employability, and facilities.

● Federation University Australia – this future-focused institution is recognised as having the best student support services in the region.

● Queensland University of Technology – based in Brisbane, the university offers practical courses with a global outlook. It has more than 8,000 international students from over 100 countries.

● James Cook University – located in Townsville, this university is focused on addressing the vital issues that face the tropics in multidisciplinary areas from marine science to the arts.


Become more familiar with the best universities in Australia


What are the main attractions in North East Australia?

As it’s such a large space, there’s a wide range of experiences to get involved in during your time in North East Australia. If you’re into arts, music, and culture, you can enjoy major venues and institutions such as:


● Queensland Art Gallery

● Queensland Gallery of Modern Art

● Queensland Ballet

● Opera Queensland

● Queensland Theatre Company

● Queensland Symphony Orchestra


Here you’ll be able to enjoy dance performances, exhibitions, theatre companies, musical events, and other cultural heritage. 


Do you want to know the places that you must visit in Australia?


What must you see?

When in Queensland, it’s impossible not to enjoy the region's vast and diverse natural landscapes and seascapes. For example, you can visit the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef system in the world.


The Great Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to thousands of marine species. There you can swim with turtles, snorkel, scuba dive, see coral formations, go whale spotting, and learn about marine conservation.


You can also learn about the state’s Aboriginal and Indigenous heritage by taking a road trip to Daintree. It’s the oldest living rainforest in the world – over 135 million years old – where the Kuku Yalanji people have lived for thousands of years. Or visit the Torres Strait Islands, a group of at least 274 small islands, and learn about the native people there.


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