Take a relaxing break on the Gold Coast these days, and you’re in for a (healthy) surprise alongside some adrenalin pumping fun!
When most people think of the Gold Coast, images of high rise apartments and hotels on a strip of golden sand and theme parks spring to mind. Or, much to the frustration of locals, the Gold Coast conjures up images of teenagers running amok at Schoolies. These conceptions are all very true, but there is another side to the Gold Coast; one that more and more tourists are drawn to.
The Gold Coast was originally known as the South Coast (due to it being south of Brisbane). From the late 50s, inflated real estate prices and an influx of people with deep pockets inspired the nickname. In the 1980s the Goldie, as it’s known by many, boomed as a tourist destination. In 1994, the City of Gold Coast local government area was expanded to encompass the majority of the Gold Coast’s metropolitan area. Thus, it became the second most populous local government area in Australia after the City of Brisbane.
One of the great things about Goldie is that there is one main road, the Gold Coast Highway. Slicing right through the mass of houses, apartments, and seemingly endless motels and hotels, it’s extremely easy to navigate. And in just 20 minutes, you can be deep in the lush tropical rainforests of the Gold Coast Hinterland. So for families, you get the best of both worlds; non-stop entertainment for kids and adults, and relaxing downtime getting back to nature. Today, a certain degree of modern, urban sophistication has also crept its way into the mix.
Broadbeach: the centre of the action
It’s a bit rock star staying right in the middle of Broadbeach on the Gold Coast. Avani Broadbeach Gold Coast Residences is perfectly positioned to take in the nightlife, buzzing restaurant scene and the spoils to be reaped at the casino, if you are child-free or on business. You’re also only a few minutes’ walk from the G:link tram. It’ll take you up and down the coast, to Surfers Paradise, Southport and beyond. Modern, cool, streamline in design, it’s a great way to beat the traffic (which can be relentless in summer).
If you do have the little (or big) ones in tow, then you’re winning when it comes to visiting the theme parks and evening shows that the Goldie is rightfully famous for. We’ll get to those soon…
Base yourself at the super stylish Avani Broadbeach Gold Coast residences. Ideally located directly across from Pacific Fair shopping centre, and The Star Gold Coast casino, you’ll wake up to dazzling Pacific Ocean views. Laze in the pool, peeking down at the bustling street life below and enjoy the 17km stretch of beach ahead.
Miami Marketta: the Gold Coast’s hottest nightlife spot
The one thing everyone should do, no matter their crew, is visit Miami Marketta. It’s the hottest spot on the Gold Coast right now, and it’s bringing a bit of Melbourne laneway dining style to Queensland. It’s a single road that is empty by day, but at night transform into a thriving nightspot. Miami Marketta boasts over 25 types of cuisine, craft beer and wine stalls, and a gin parlour with over 90 types of gin. There’s market stalls selling all kinds of clothes, handbags, arts and crafts. Boogie along to live music with people from all walks of life. Don’t miss the dessert hall where you can buy one of the biggest, fluffiest lamingtons you’ve ever seen.
Gold Coast theme parks
Even if you’re not an adrenaline seeker, there is no getting around it. You can’t visit the Gold Coast without fitting in a theme park or a show. Movie World is the crowd pleaser for fun park rides. It’s home to the tallest, longest and fastest HyperCoaster in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s 1.4 kilometres of hair-raising fun. There’s also one of the most thrilling ‘SpaceShot’ rides you’ll ever experience – the BATWING. It shoots straight up to almost 60 metres in breathtaking speed and then finishes with some bungee-like bounces. Don’t miss Superman Escape; another thrilling rollercoaster where Superman himself propels your carriage to safety. Or the Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster – which is actually not as tame as it looks.
At SeaWorld, you can go scuba diving or snorkelling with sharks and thousands of fish and rays. If you prefer to stay dry, jump on a thrill ride called the Jet Rescue Roller. You’re strapped in by only a lap bar with nothing around your shoulders and have to hold on to jet ski handles as you fly over the coaster. The Thunder Lake Stunt Show is a family pleaser, with jet skis, water skis and trucks taking to the arena.
The Gold Coast’s most iconic show
If you only make one show, the Australian Outback Spectacular is worth visiting the Gold Coast for. The show takes guests on a tear-jerking (and often hilarious) journey into the heart of Outback Australia. The stars are a community of true blue farmers, battling with the heartache and breakthroughs of the ongoing drought. In a transformative arena brought to life with mind-boggling immersive technology, you can’t help but rejoice in the community’s courage, bravery and generosity as they deal with their often unforgiving life on the land.
Arrive early for pre-show drinks and a band. Plus, enjoy a delicious three-course dinner with beverages, sitting at your own little table overlooking the stage. It’s pure magic.
Gold Coast Hinterland
The Gold Coast’s hinterland region is a verdant paradise of rainforest-clad mountains, valleys filled with burbling creeks and waterfalls, and hills covered in farms producing some of the country’s best organic produce.
A legend in this region is David Freeman of Freeman’s Farm. This spot has some of the most stunning views across the mountains towards Burleigh Heads you could ever imagine. David’s great, great uncle Arthur started growing bananas on this remarkable 300-acre patch of earth over 100 years ago. Today it’s a slice of organic heaven, with (as David says) a “botanical walk of health featuring 100 different fruit trees.”
Guests can take a seat among the crates and paper bags brimming with delicious market produce. In winter, guests gravitate to the chimenea fire. Summer draws people to the grass before the avocado and banana plantations. It’s all about getting back to nature and drinking in the sunshine and views at Freeman’s Farm. There’s always a lovely local to meet; loyal fans of organic food and a holistic approach health and life in general.
Animal encounters at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Drive fifteen minutes down the road and you’ll reach Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Here you can take a mini train around a sanctuary focussed on preserving Australia’s endangered species. Visit the Wildlife Hospital where you can see nurses and doctors in action assisting all creatures great and small. You can cuddle and have your photo taken with a koala, and watch Currumbin’s biggest saltwater croc, Boss Hog jump for his chicken dinner. You could spend an entire day at this sanctuary, so make sure you take your time and meet as many critters as possible.
In April 2021, Rex (Regional Express) launched flights from Sydney and Melbourne to the Gold Coast, so you’ll be able to experience their renowned country hospitality on your way to paradise. Fly straight into Coolangatta and start your holiday on a high note. Check the latest flight schedules and prices at rex.com.au