Everything you need to know about Australia’s Gold Coast
Famous for its endless beaches and Australia’s best theme parks, there’s actually much, much more to Australia’s Gold Coast.
With a mountainous hinterland just half an hour’s drive from the famous beach strip, a fast-emerging cultural and culinary scene, and the Commonwealth Games next year, the Gold Coast is a destination that can’t be ignored.
Air Niugini passengers flying into Brisbane can hire a car and be on the Gold Coast within one hour.
It’s easy to navigate the Gold Coast if you hire a car (all major hire car options are available at Gold Coast and Brisbane airports). The Gold Coast Highway runs parallel to the beach from the southern-most point of the coast near the airport at Coolangatta to its north (past Surfers Paradise). And the biggest suburbs’ streets are named the American way – First Avenue, Second Avenue and so on – which makes navigation simple. You can also take a bus with Surfside Buslines (surfside. com.au), which services the entire Gold Coast.
Visit one of Australia’s most picturesque headlands and beaches at Snapper Rocks, just five minutes drive from Gold Coast International Airport – home to pro surfing’s first event of the year, the Quiksilver Pro (held each February or March). The wave here – the Superbank –has been proclaimed the world’s best point break.
While the Gold Coast is moving away from relying on its reputation as Australia’s theme park capital, it’s hard to not be impressed by Sea World (Seaworld Drive, Main Beach,
seaworld.com.au). Built right beside the Gold Coast Broadwater, it’s Australia’s premier (and original) marine mammal and theme park.
While the Gold Coast’s beaches attract the lion’s share of plaudits, there’s 480 kilometres of rivers and streams and 774 hectares of lakes, dams and canals to explore just west of the beaches, including the stunning Gold Coast Broadwater – a mecca for boaties, paddle boarders, jet skiers and kayakers.
GOLD COAST SPECIAL
If you’re after good old-fashioned value in the most mind-blowing locations on the Gold Coast, then go find a surf club or RSL club. The Gold Coast is famous for its huge offering of clubs built just a few metres from the best beaches. All you have to do is sign your name at the door, and you’ll go back in time to an era of friendly locals and cheap beer and food.
Listen to the best local music and check out design vendors while eating from food trucks at the Gold Coast’s best cultural additions – markettas that have opened up at the Gold Coast’s least likely destinations. The best two are Miami Marketta (23 Hillcrest Parade, Miami, miamimarketta.com) built near an industrial estate and Nightquarter (1 Town Centre Drive, Helensvale, nightquarter.com.au) built behind a shopping centre in unfashionable Helensvale.
The hippest street designers share their wares at the Gold Coast’s original boutique fashion and lifestyle markets, the Village Markets (1750 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads, thevillagemarkets.com) on the first and third Sunday morning of each month.
Find the Coast’s hippest stores, bars, cafes and bookshops on its hippest street – Burleigh Heads’ James Street, just a 200-metre walk from Burleigh Point.
The Gold Coast is every kid’s fantasy destination with its worldfamous theme parks –including Dreamworld (Dreamworld Parkway, Coomera, dreamworld. com.au), Movie World (Pacific Motorway, Oxenford, movieworld. com.au) and Wet’n’Wild (Pacific Motorway, Oxenford, wetnwild. com.au).
Hire bicycles and safely cycle beside the beach on bikeways that run the length of the Gold Coast from Coolangatta to Surfers Paradise. Get close to native birds, koalas, crocs and other Aussie animals at the 70-year-old heritage-listed Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (28 Tomewin Street, Currumbin, cws.org.au).
If shopping’s your thing, the Gold Coast is your destination because this is the home of the super mall. And nothing’s more super than Pacific Fair (Hooker Boulevard, Broadbeach, pacificfair.com.au) – Queensland’s largest shopping and dining destination. There are more than 400 specialty shops here. And just a little further south, Robina Town Centre (19 Robina Town Centre Road, Robina, robinatowncentre.com.au) has over 350 shops.
The Gold Coast is home to some of the world’s best surf – and there’s learn-to-surf schools at every single beach. Learn to surf with former world surfing champion, Cheyne Horan (cheynehoran.com.au).
There are 25 golf courses on the Gold Coast – all within a 50-minute drive – including some of Australia’s best public-access courses. For a five-star experience, head to Sanctuary Cove Golf Club (The Parkway, Hope Island, sanctuarycovegolfclub.com.au) or, for a more laid-back hit, try the Boomerang Farm (55 Johns Road, Mudgeeraba, boomerangfarm. com.au).
The Commonwealth Games will be held from April 4 to 15 next year, attracting 6600 athletes and officials from 70 nations, with 690, 000 visitors expected to attend.
There will be 275 events, with – the opening and closing ceremonies at Metricon Stadium in Carrarra. Events will be held between Coolangatta and Broadwater Parklands. Tickets cost from $20, and can be requested at gc2018.com/tickets.
The Supercars (supercars. com/gold-coast) annually hit the streets of Surfers Paradise – reaching speeds of up to 265kmh – in one of Australia’s most exciting car races, the Gold Coast 600. It will be held this year from October 20 to 22.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the Gold Coast strip by driving 45 minutes to Binna Burra Lodge (Binna Burra Road, Beechmont, binnaburralodge.com.au). Choose from short strolls to day-long hikes along steep escarpments with stunning views back over the coast.
Find inner peace in the hills just behind the southern Gold Coast at the Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat (192 Syndicate Road, Tallebudgera, gwinganna.com). Choose from two to sevenday wellness programs while surrounded by wallabies and koalas.
Invoking the coolness of Baja California, Australian hotels don’t get any hipper than QT Gold Coast (7 Staghorn Avenue, Surfers Paradise, qthotelsandresorts.com/ gold-coast/).
You can’t get better views of the entire Gold Coast strip than in Australia’s tallest residential tower – Q1 Resort & Spa (9 Hamilton Avenue, Surfers Paradise, q1.com.au).
Go where the beautiful people stay – to one of the world’s first fashion-inspired hotels, Palazzo Versace (94 Seaworld Drive,
palazzoversace.com.au), with opulent Italian furnishings and a day spa that’ll redefine your idea of pampering.
Once famous for big-capacity clubs, now Gold Coast bars have become intimate. And nowhere’s more intimate than The Loose Moose (Oasis Shopping Centre, 75 Surf Centre, Broadbeach, theloosemoose.com.au), styled like a Prohibition-era speakeasy with a choice of 130 whiskeys.
Nowhere epitomises the evolving Gold Coast more than Justin Lane (1708 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads, justinlane.com.au). Justin Lane attracts the Coast’s coolest crowd with a rooftop overlooking the world-famous waves at Burleigh Point.
That you will find Balter Brewing (14 Traders Way, Currumbin, balter.com.au) in an industrial estate says a lot about how much the Gold Coast has evolved. Run by four famous pro surfers, the who’s-who of world surfing congregate between boat building sheds and car detailing factories.
The hottest new eating spot on the Coast is also its most innovative – The Collective (1128 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach, thecollectivepalmbeach.com.au) is a collection of five restaurants and two bars in a stylish outdoor setting.
It’s worth noting one of the trendiest restaurants on the Gold Coast is vegan. The Greenhouse Canteen & Bar (1916 Gold Coast Highway, greenhousefactory.com. au) works on the concept – ‘anything we can do, we can do vegan’.
With one of the Gold Coast’s best settings, Rick Shores (Shop 4, 43 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads, rickshores. com.au) is worth booking for the views alone. But the food’s actually the real star here – discover the best Asian fusion meals in Queensland.
Nothing screams G-O-L-D C-OA-S-T louder than tucking into a kilo of cooked local king prawns from the Gold Coast Fisherman’s Co-operative (168 Seaworld Drive, Main Beach, freshestcatch.com. au). Locals line up to buy the freshest prawns in Queensland, caught just offshore by fleets of local trawlers, Eat them just across the road in the park. Dishing it up ... The Collective is the Gold Coast's hottest new eating spot (above left); a platter of the finest at Palazzo Versace (above).
Retail therapy ... (from left) there are 350 shops at Robina; local wildlife at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary; catching a wave; QT Hotel; drinks at Justin Lane.
Coasting ... (from left) Justin Lane at Burleigh Heads; by the seaside; Miami Marketta; heading into the hinterland.
Board games ... the Gold Coast is famous for its beaches and surfing.