The Gold Coast. This busy stretch of coastline is just an hour south of Brisbane but a world away from Queensland’s quiet capital city. The tagline is “famous for fun” and yes, this is the spot plenty of Aussies and Kiwis flock to for a bit of frivolity.
Between the beaches of Coolangatta and Stradbroke Island are a string of theme parks, night clubs, restaurants, shops, surf schools and plenty of Gold Coast accommodation. Yes, the Gold Coast is built up and extremely busy in summer but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a jolly good time with the whole family.
Here’s our guide to a few of the fun, fake and fabulous man-made attractions that make the most of this part of the world.
For the thrillseekers: Dreamworld
Ah the theme parks. Almost every child and teenager in the country will have heard of the Gold Coast’s many theme parks. Wet n Wild, Movie World, Dreamworld, Sea World – they’re all here. This is as close as you’re going to get to Disneyworld without having to hop on a long haul flight, so give in and let the kids have some fun. Dreamworld has been busy and will hit peak September and Summer school holidays with new and improved attractions. Tail Spin is brand new this September, launching riders 72 feet skywards in mini aeroplanes which can be spun around to your heart’s content. And then there’s Wipeout, which you probably rode yourself as a kid, it’s now back in action after a big renovation.
For the water babies: Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort and Spa
This high rise hotel has been making waves since opening its lagoon pool a few years ago. No, it’s not actually a wave pool, but a saltwater lagoon holding 1.6million litres of water and plenty of tropical fish. Yes, that’s right. Fish in your hotel pool. Pop on some snorkel gear, walk down the sandy beach and go for a snorkel. Sometimes there aren’t too many fish (there’s been problems with the local birds snacking) but there’s always a few swimming around for you to get up close with. This is a great, safe way to introduce your little ones to swimming with sealife. The heated pool is popular year round with families but there’s plenty of couples lying in the lounge chairs or in cabanas.
For the nature lovers: Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk
Not everything on the Gold Coast is about glitz and glamour by the sea. Get back to nature on the Tamborine Skywalk, a series of boardwalks that rise up through the treeline of Mt Tamborine’s rainforest. Technically to the north east of the Gold Coast’s main drag of beaches, the Skywalk is a 50 minute drive away. The easy 1.5km walk is a chance to get some fresh air and see a largely untouched piece of Australian rainforest. You’ll walk along the forest floor before crossing 300 metres of bridges that climb up to the canopy. The 40 metre cantilever bridge is a great spot for a birds eye view.
For the adrenalin junkies: Adventure Parc at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
If walking through the trees on bridges is too pedestrian for you, head over to Currumbin’s Adventure Parc. This high ropes course crosses through the tree canopy on ladders, nets, flying fox and even a Tarzan swing. Obstacles and challenges are inspired by SAS commando training – with a lot more fun involved. Courses range in difficulty from beginner to out right jungle-monkey–advanced. Little ones will need to be over the age of six – and 1.6m tall for some of the more difficult courses. In the end your kids will probably be scrambling through the difficult sections but that’s ok, take a slower pace and keep an eye out for birdlife.
For the glamour set: Cabanas at Palazzo Versace
If you’re about fashion and fabulousness, check into the Palazzo Versace and expect to be wowed. This is not the place for minimalism and discreet style – it’s over the top and it’s fabulous. Reserve one of the famous private poolside cabanas at the Water Salon, pop on your biggest, darkest sunglasses and settle in for a day by the pool. There’s cocktails, snacks and of course, plenty of opportunities to see and be seen.