Gone picnickin’- BEST SPOTS ON THE GC
WHETHER YOU’RE AFTER A HARDCORE HIKE, A STROLL WITH YOUR SOULMATE OR HAVE A FAMILY IN TOW, PUT ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER ON ONE OF THESE LOCAL WALKS – YOUR MIND, BODY AND SOUL WILL THANK YOU FOR IT.
AHH, THE PICNIC… IS THERE A BETTER WAY TO COMBINE GREAT FOOD WITH THE GREAT OUTDOORS, AND ENJOY SOME QUALITY TIME WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY WHILE YOU’RE AT IT? PACK A BASKET, A BLANKET AND MAYBE EVEN A FOOTY, AND PUT ONE OF THESE SPOTS INTO GOOGLE MAPS – WE’RE GOING PICNICKING! JABIRU ISLAND PARK, PARADISE POINT
Little-known Jabiru Island Park is a picnicking family’s paradise. The waterfront park includes a kids’ playground, sheltered picnic tables, barbecues, modern toilets and a swimming enclosure. Plus, the nearby Phil Hill Environmental Park has a great nature boardwalk for spotting local wildlife.
BROADWATER PARKLANDS, SOUTHPORT
Despite its location in the heart of Southport, the waterfront Broadwater Parklands feel a world away from the hustle and bustle. With a world-class children’s playground (bouncy pillow included!), picnic tables and barbecues, rock pools and shady trees, the Parklands offer great views down the coast and across the Coral Sea to Main Beach and Sea World.
MACINTOSH ISLAND PARK, SURFERS PARADISE
Macintosh Island Park is a sanctuary in the centre of Surfers, characterised by lush green trees, manicured lawns and a few interesting residents. Between their free-roaming peacock population and the local Bigfoot (who can be found sleeping in his cave), it’s hard to believe that Macintosh Park is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the high-rises of Surfers Paradise. Plus, it’s got a playground, picnic tables and shelters, toilets and plenty of other facilities that make it the perfect spot to lay your picnic blanket in Surfers.
GOLD COAST REGIONAL BOTANIC GARDENS, BENOWA
For the perfect balance of sun and shade, flora and fauna, the Gold Coast’s own Botanic Gardens are the place to be. Formerly known as Rosser Park, the Gardens offer 31 hectares of picnic paradise, with boardwalks, playgrounds, a dog off-leash area and a number of gardens (including one full of butterflies!).
CASCADE GARDENS, BROADBEACH
It’s been labelled one of the best barbecue spots on the Gold Coast, but Cascade Gardens is a fantastic spot for a picnic, too. Its riverside location makes it a perfect place to lie back and relax, with an enormous playground for the kids to run rampant in. After lunch, take a stroll along the Kokoda Memorial Walk, which takes pedestrians through tropical jungles and beyond the Gardens towards the Gold Coast Exhibition and Convention Centre.
KEN MANSBRIDGE PARK, MERMAID BEACH
Named in honour of local lifeguard Ken Mansbridge, Ken Mansbridge Park on Mermaid Beach is the ultimate seaside picnic spot. It’s quiet and picturesque, shaded by the tall pine trees that are more typically associated with Burleigh Heads to the south. A small exercise park, playground and beach volleyball yball court provide afternoon entertainment, but don’t feel pressured red to fill the time with activities as this park is perfect for surf and d people watching – whatever takes your fancy.
MICK SCHAMBURG PARK, MIAMI
Mick Schamburg Park is a wildly popular wedding destination n and taking one look at the view, it’s not hard to see why. The grassy hilltop – with its distinctive circular lookout spot – makes kes a great place for a sunny picnic, followed up by a hike along one ne of the nearby walking tracks.
JOHN LAWS PARK, BURLEIGH HEADS
Otherwise known as ‘Burleigh Hill’, John Laws Park is the ultimate GC sundowner spot. Find a patch of grass, or a picnic table if you’re lucky, and set up to watch the sun set over our beloved Gold Coast – from your Burleigh Hill vantage point, you can see all the way up to Surfers Paradise. You don’t even have to pack a picnic, because nearby Justin Lane does bike-delivered pizza right to John Laws Park.
DEODAR PARK, BURLEIGH WATERS
John Laws Park certainly offers a world-class view, but if you want to stay away from the crowds try heading inland to Deodar Park and the Burleigh Knoll Conservation Park. You’ll come across some pristine picnic spots. It’s still near the water and a favourite for dog owners and nature lovers alike (kangaroos are commonly spotted here), while the kids will enjoy the nearby playground and large grassy areas to run around on.
TARRABORA RESERVE, PALM BEACH
There’s seriously no better place for a beach picnic than Tarrabora Reserve. This natural parkland sits right on the waterfront of Currumbin Creek, and is a refuge to a variety of native wildlife, particularly birds and reptiles. Enjoy your picnic between ocean swims or try your hand at some fishing – you might even catch your lunch! Plus, the neighbouring Palm Beach Parklands have an awesome pirate ship playground to keep the kids entertained for hours.
FOR THE CHALLENGE
Springbrook National Park is known for its cascading waterfalls, rock pools and glow worm caves, but the twin peaks of Mount Cougal provide a great challenge for committed hikers. While it definitely isn’t for the faint of heart, the views and caves that you’re treated to along the way certainly make the trek up Mount Cougal well worth your while. Stretching 10km, the walk takes you through fields, up rock faces, across the rainforest floor and up to the peaks of the mountain itself where you can enjoy sprawling views of the coastline, Mount Warning and Tweed Valley.
For those with a fear of heights, Mount Cougal offers another great walk a bit closer to sea level – the Cougal Cascades. The walk is a 1.6km round trip, partially on well-maintained bitumen, and you’ll pass the remnants of a 1940s sawmill that was once used to produce timber. Explore the area, keeping an eye out for the land mullet – the world’s largest skink, which calls the Godwana Rainforest WorldHeritage Area, that Springbrook is part of, ‘home’ – and then treat your trotters to a dip in the rock pools.
FOR THE COUPLES
Whether it’s catching a wave or catching up with friends, Burleigh Heads is kind of a one-stop shop for everything you could ever need – including a great bushwalk. The rugged headland and rocky foreshore of the Burleigh Heads National Park make it a stunning spot for hiking and the various swimming spots – the slice of paradise that is Echo Beach, for example – and rainforest canopies make it a ‘walk in the park’ all year round. From the mangroves down by the sea to the Pandanus groves that line the walkways, there’s no better place to get to know your special someone. And, depending on the time of year, you can make your way down to the water or stop at one of the lookouts along the way to see migrating humpback whales or dolphins at play. Then, when you’re done, a romantic picnic on Burleigh Hill is the perfect reward for your efforts.
FOR THE FAM
The estuary of Currumbin Creek is one of the best places to watch the sea and bird life in their natural habitat, and the boardwalk of the Beree-badalla Reserve offers the ultimate vantage point. Set back from the coastline on the Western side of the Gold Coast highway, the Beree-badalla Reserve boardwalk is less than a kilometre in length – but those hoping for a longer route can continue through Tarrabora Reserve and back again for a 2.4km round trip – making it ideal for families. It’s also a great spot for fishing and swimming and is dotted with picnic tables for those hoping to make a day of it. With the pirate ship playground at the Palm Beach Parklands and Dune Café close by, there are plenty of spots to stop and refuel before continuing toward the mouth of Currumbin Creek. Plus, the BereeBadalla Reserve boardwalk is dog-friendly, meaning your pup can join in on the hike – so long as they’re on a leash.