City guide

Every­thing you need to know about Aus­tralia’s Gold Coast

Paradise - - Contents -

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.

GET­TING AROUND

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.

SIGHTS

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.

CUL­TURE VUL­TURE

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.

CHILD’S PLAY

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).

RE­TAIL THER­APY

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.

SPORT­ING LIFE

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

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.

PIL­LOW TALK

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.

WA­TER­ING HOLES

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.

EATS

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.

TUCK IN

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).

Board games ... the Gold Coast is fa­mous for its beaches and surfing.

Coast­ing ... (from left) Justin Lane at Burleigh Heads; by the seaside; Mi­ami Mar­ketta; head­ing into the hin­ter­land.

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.

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