Paint the town maroon

Celebrating 160 years of our great state.

Today, we celebrate Queensland’s birthday and mark 160 years since its official separation from New South Wales on 6 June 1859.

Queensland Day is an opportunity to celebrate our state’s culture, heritage, places and people. 

Here are some of the icons that have shaped the Sunshine State.

Aviation pioneers

Australia’s first airline, QANTAS, was established at Winton in November 1920 by four WWI veterans with a fleet of two bi-planes carrying one or two passengers in open cockpits. Today, the company is regarded as one of the world’s leading airlines.

Eight years later aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith landed in Brisbane after completing the first trans-Pacific flight. Smithy, as he was known, also made the first non-stop crossing of the Australian mainland and the first flight between Australia and New Zealand. 

The Ekka

Queenslanders have travelled from across the state to The Royal Queensland Show (Ekka) since 1876. 

The beloved annual event attracts more than 400,000 people each year and showcases the best of Queensland. The 10-day event receives more than 21,000 competition entries from woodchop to giant vegetables, 10,000 animals from beef cattle to cats and dogs, world-class live entertainment, award-winning food and wine, carnival rides and showbags, family shopping, educational activities and much more. 

RACQ members can save on tickets to the Ekka 2020.


Medical breakthroughs

The Royal Flying Doctor Service first took flight from Cloncurry in 1928 to provide medical help for people who lived in remote areas. Ninety years later the service is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in the world, providing primary health care and 24-hour emergency service to people over across Australia.
In 2006, Brisbane-based medical researchers Professor Ian Frazer and Dr Jian Zhou developed Gardasil, the world’s first anti-cancer vaccine that has changed led to a decrease in the rate of cervical cancer.

We even have our own Nobel Prize Laureate, with immunologist Professor Peter Doherty winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with his Swiss colleague Professor Rolf Zinkernagel for their discovery of how the immune system recognises virus-infected cells.

The Queenslander

No list of Queensland icons would be complete without this classic piece of architectural design. The distinctive timer and iron houses started popping up in the mid-19th century as a method for European migrants to adjust to Queensland’s subtropical climate. The raised floors and wide verandas provide refuge from the summer sun and rain while allowing natural ventilation throughout the house.

Queenslander house

Trail blazers

Queensland politicians have set precedents for the other states.

In 1971, Neville Bonner became the first Indigenous person to be elected to Federal Parliament as a Senator for Queensland.

In 2008, Dame Quentin Bryce became the first female Australian Governor-General and a year later Anna Bligh became Queensland Premier and the first woman in Australia to win a state election. 

Music royalty

Eurovision contestant Kate Miller-Heidke is the latest in a long line of Queenslanders to do Australia proud on the international stage.

From the Bee Gees and Savage Garden to Amy Shark and Violent Soho, Queenslanders have conquered almost every music genre imaginable.

Discover music by artists you might not know are Queenslanders on Spotify’s Queensland Playlist.


Many Queenslanders are accustomed to seeing koalas in local bushland, parks and even their own backyards. It’s easy to forget how lucky we are to have one of Australian’s most iconic animals on our doorstep. Brisbane is home to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the world's first koala sanctuary and the first to breed koalas in captivity.

RACQ members save 10% on entry to Lone Pine Koala sanctuary.


Subscribe to the Your shout podcast to hear from Queenslanders who have an amazing story to tell. Your shout is available on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple iTunes and RACQ Living.