Australia's party central for surfers and all-round fun seekers
“Goldie” is home to the beach-lined tourist hub of Surfers Paradise and popular precincts such as Broadbeach, with its restaurants, shopping and casino, and Main Beach with its resorts. And let’s not forget the surf breaks at Greenmount, Currumbin and Burleigh Heads, to name just a few. The Gold Coast also ranks as Australia’s family-fun capital, boasting theme parks ranging from Sea World and WhiteWater World to Warner Bros Movie World, Dreamworld and the Australian Outback Spectacular. Beyond the city limits is a lush hinterland – “the green behind the gold” – known for its national parks, rock formations, waterfalls and inviting nature spots like Tamborine Mountain, Springbrook and Currumbin Valley. A popular holidaymaking region, the Gold Coast lets visitors toggle between fast-paced and laid-back as they bask in the year-round sunshine.
Things to do
Life’s a beach
Peppers Broadbeach opens in new window is in the heart of, you guessed it, Broadbeach. You won’t go hungry here with over 100 alfresco restaurants offering diverse cuisines. Family-friendly Zagames Paradise Resort opens in new window is in the heart of Surfers Paradise. Parents can revel in some “me time” as the littlies stay entertained at the kids club.
Nirvana by the Sea opens in new window is south of the Gold Coast at Kirra Beach and specialises in opulent accommodation for couples. Units are themed “life spaces,” capturing panoramic views of Queensland’s most famous beach.
The Gold Coast really does have it all, including many beautiful national parks each with walkways to explore and stretch those legs. Choose from Springbook National Park opens in new window’s Natural Bridge Rainforest Circuit (pictured), O’Reilly’s opens in new window, Moonlight Craig Lookout and Tamborine Mountain. The Natural Bridge Rainforest Circuit is an amazing natural rock formation that arches over Cave Creek. Thousands of glowworms make it most spectacular at night.
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is located in the World Heritage-listed Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland. Get lost in the magic of the subtropical rainforest with 160km of walking trails to explore, including over 500 waterfalls and 250 species of Australian wildlife. Moonlight Craig Lookout is a highlight.
Tamborine Mountain, also known as “the green behind the gold”, offers pristine surrounds whether you’re enjoying the many boutique restaurants and wineries or the engineering feat of the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk – southeast Queensland’s longest canopy walkway. The 300m-long bridge allows explorers to venture across the rainforest canopy while the 40m-long Skywalk Cantilever soars 30m over the creek for an unrivalled rainforest experience.
Goldie is Australia’s theme park capital, home to Dreamworld opens in new window, Movie World opens in new window, Sea World opens in new window (pictured), Wet ‘n’ Wild opens in new window and Whitewater World. Save yourself time and cash and buy your passes online: the “unlimited passes” are definitely worth the higher price. Avoid traffic and parking woes and catch the local bus to any of the parks. The three-park pass opens in new window entitles you to extra savings and access to Movie World, Wet ’n’ Wild and Sea World. Dreamworld and WhiteWater World offer the discounted “world pass tickets opens in new window”.
Gold Coast is home to over 57km of coastline with countless surf breaks. The sand is clean and golden and most beaches are patrolled by surf lifesavers. Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP) is becoming increasing popular as a sport because it’s almost too fun to be categorised as exercise. If you’re a newbie, sign-up for lessons with JM Stand Up Paddle Company opens in new window and Surfers Paradise Stand Up Paddle opens in new window. If you want to ride the waves like the best, you’ll want to learn in one of the most idyllic locations. Contact Get Wet Surf School opens in new window (pictured) and Brad Holmes Surf Coaching opens in new window. Take to the waters in an entirely different manner by learning the art of sailing – an ideal sport to learn as a group or family. Cruise out to Stradbroke Island and explore the pristine beaches while learning a new skill with Getaway Sailing.
Whale of a time
Marvel at nature’s majesty as our most substantial mammals partake in their annual migration along Humpback Highway. The busy shoreline provides up to 25,000 viewing opportunities between June and November.
Whale Watching Gold Coast opens in new window, Mariners Cove Marina, 60 Seaworld Drive Main Beach, tel: +61 (7) 5532 2444
Whales in Paradise, opens in new window Cnr of Cavil Ave, Gold Coast Hwy, tel: +61 (7) 5538 5219
Surfers Paradise 20km
Travel time 30 minutes
Taxi Approx AUD $65
Con-X-ion Bus Every 15-30 minutes. One-way AUD $22, return AUD $40. Journey takes 45 minutes.
Gold Coast Tourist Shuttle One-way AUD $21 (adult), AUD $13 (child, 4-13 yrs); return AUD $41 (adult), AUD $21 (child). Journey takes 45 minutes.
Bus 702 Every 30 minutes. One-way from AUD $7.Back to top
When to go
Gold Coast experiences great weather all year round and the four seasons are less apparent. The sub-tropical climate is ideal for outdoor enjoyment – there is an average of 245 days a year of fine and sunny weather. In summer (December-February), daytime temperatures are generally in the mid 20°C range. Enjoy cooler temperatures – about 16°C – in the hinterland, especially in winter. The highest rainfall occurs between January and March where hot days are often followed by tropical storms. Summer is the best time to enjoy the Gold Coast’s beautiful beaches and thrilling rides and entertainment at the theme parks. If whale watching is what you’re after, the best time to go is between June and October when tour boats head out for such excursions.Back to top
Bus operators TransLink and Surfside offer services that run along the coast as and beyond. There’s also an after-midnight service called NightLink. G:link, the new light rail service, is scheduled to be completed by mid 2014. There will be 16 stations running from Gold Coast University Hospital to Broadbeach South. Expeditions to the Hinterland still require a hire car or taxi.Back to top