A combination of golden beaches, a green mountain hinterland and the most varied theme attractions in Australia, make Queensland’s Gold Coast the nation’s most popular family holiday playground.
An easy 65km drive south-east of Brisbane is a tourist mecca – the Gold Coast. The region’s 42-kilometre coastline stretches from Southport to Coolangatta and basks in more than 300 days of sunshine each year. The Gold Coast is a combination of nature’s best and a range of themed attractions and events.
Surfing beaches with such alluring names as Mermaid Beach and Surfers Paradise offer soft golden sand, rolling waves and the perfect setting for a walk along the shoreline. The clean, uncrowded beaches may be the main thing families are looking for in a holiday and the Gold Coast has them all in abundance.
Nestled behind the sand dunes at the northern end of the Gold Coast is Sea World; the nation’s most comprehensive marine zoological park. It gives visitors a unique entertainment and educational window to the underwater world, as well as the best daily exhibition of stunt water skiing. View tiger sharks at Shark Bay, delight in the energetic and playful behaviour of Australia’s only polar bears or enjoy the seal and dolphin presentations where both children and adults will be on the edge of their seats as these beautiful marine creatures go through a series of complicated and entertaining jumps, flips and rolls. Sea World also has a water park and a series of exciting rides.
Other major theme attractions on the Gold Coast include Warner Bros. Movie World and Dreamworld. The entry price covers all rides and attractions within each complex. At Warner Bros. Movieworld, guests can see movies being made and enjoy a variety of stunt shows. Rides such as the Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster, Lethal Weapon and the Wild West Falls Adventure Ride make it a day to remember. Enter through the impressive gates of Dreamworld and a day of excitement awaits you at every turn. Cuddle koalas, see rare gold and white Bengal tigers on Tiger Island, ride the rapids in a hollowed-out log, climb aboard the thrilling Tower of Terror or the Giant Drop or delight in the all new Wiggles World.
The Gold Coast has more restaurants per square kilometre than anywhere else in Australia. With a mix of cultures and influences for any budget, the delight of dining out is now an integral part of the family holiday scene.
For the avid shoppers in the family, the Gold Coast has an amazing array of shopping resorts, innovative boutiques and shopping villages. Take a cruise boat to the waterfront marine village of Sanctuary Cove for designer labels and creative handicrafts or head to Pacific Fair or Robina Town Centre for an extravaganza of department stores and speciality shops.
For a slower pace, families can hit the road to the ‘green behind the gold’ in the mountains and valleys of the Gold Coast hinterland. Seek out the soft illumination of the glow worms at the Natural Arch or unpack a picnic beside a towering waterfall at Springbrook. Sunlover Holidays offers a range of informative and eco-tourism based tours to unlock this special part of the region.
Located in South Tweed Heads, the Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre offers the opportunity to learn about local Aboriginal customs. The Centre houses a display showing aspects of Aboriginal lifestyle in the north coast of NSW. Conducted tours include a dance display and bush tucker talk and an Aboriginal trail encompasses a walk along the adjoining mangrove area.
A 30-minute drive from the Gold Coast will find you at Tamborine Mountain; a rainforest oasis nestled high on the range. It has attracted a community of interesting artists and their work captures the beauty of the area. Their artwork features an interesting blend of colour, texture and shape, and includes ceramics, designer silks, sculpture, painting and leather work.
The Gold Coast is renowned for quality markets staged regularly throughout the region. Markets are held as follows:
Surfers Paradise beachfront – every Friday evening
Broadbeach – first and third Sunday
Burleigh – last Sunday
Coolangatta – every second Sunday
Tamborine Mountain – second Sunday
Canungra country market – first Sunday
Paradise Point Art and Craft Market – fourth Sunday
The original and biggest market on the Gold Coast is held each weekend at Carrara.
The subtropical Gold Coast enjoys plenty of sunshine, an average of 300 days each year. Winters are mild and dry and summers can be quite warm, with most rain falling in brief stormy showers in the late afternoon or evening.
Spring September to November 15-25 C / 59-77 F
Summer December to February 20-30 C / 68-86 F
Autumn March to May 15-25 C / 59-77 F
Winter June to August 11-22 C / 52-7 F