Exploring Gold Coast
As Queensland's second-most populous urban area and one of Australia's most famous holiday spots, the sprawling Gold Coast now extends as far south as the New South Wales community of Tweed Heads and as far north as the outskirts of Brisbane. High-rise hotels such as the Vibe Hotel Gold Coast and The Towers of Chevron Renaissance now dominate the Gold Coast's seaside skyline, but more modest backpacker hostels can still be found in tourist hot spots like Coolangatta, Surfers Paradise, and Southport.
Southport is the Gold Coast's main commercial centre. However, the largest percentage of hotels and tourist attractions are situated around Surfers Paradise, which is perhaps the best known of the more than 30 beaches along the 40-kilometre coastline for which the region is named. Those seeking peace and quiet may prefer Broadbeach, Tweed Heads, or Coolangatta. The beaches of Burleigh Heads also rank high on the lists of both families and surfers. Even more peaceful retreats away from the coast's seemingly endless stream of theme parks and beaches await visitors to the Gold Coast hinterland, a rural region of rainforests and mountain ranges.
The electric CityTrain service may be the most efficient way to travel between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. However, Surfside Buslines, whose buses operate 24 hours, is perhaps the easiest transport provider to travel with between Gold Coast communities. The new light rail service provides another option.
Australia's tallest building, the 323m high Q1, towers over the waterfront of the Gold Coast's tourism capital and is the location of the Q1 Resort & Spa, one of the region's most relaxing luxury hotels. Surfers Paradise is particularly popular among surfers, New Zealanders, and Australian teenagers during the school holidays. Surfing, not surprisingly, is the main attraction, but fishing and boating are other popular water sports at this legendary beach. Swimmers must stay within the patrolled areas which are clearly marked by yellow and red flags.
The world famous Tasmanian devil is just one of the exotic Australian wildlife species on display at this Gold Coast theme park, first established as a bird sanctuary in 1947. Today, visitors can feed the lorikeets, tour the Southern Hemisphere's biggest walk-through aviary, experience close encounters with dingoes, or ride a miniature railway.
Nowhere else on Earth offers a greater variety of tropical fruit than this working Tweed Valley plantation just a 10-minute drive away from the Gold Coast's beaches and airport. Chocolate pudding fruit, banana bubble gum fruit, and lemon meringue fruit are merely the most unusual of the over 500 tropical fruits visitors can sample during the fruit tasting shows here. Tropical Fruit World also features a jungle river cruise, a miniature railroad, and the Adventure Island playground.
Eating and drinking and shopping nearby
Tourist traps may seem easy to find on the Gold Coast, but shoppers can also find legitimate deals at the Surfers Paradise shops specialising in products made from wool, sheepskin, opal, and other Australian goods. Even better bargains are often found outside of Surfers Paradise, especially at Robina Town Centre and the Biggera Waters fashion outlets. Muddies, or mud crabs, may be the Gold Coast's most famous local specialty, but there are also plenty of cheap, yet tasty, Korean and Japanese restaurants along Surfers Paradise's back arcades. More upscale eateries are most easily found in Broadbeach and Main Beach's Tedder Avenue. The local surf and lifesaving clubs contain many of the Gold Coast's liveliest night spots.
The electric CityTrain service linking Brisbane to the Gold Coast makes four stops in this region and is popular with commuters traveling to Queensland's state capital. Surfside Buslines, the Gold Coast's main bus network, operates 24 hours and stops at nearly all significant theme parks and communities. Taxi waiting times can be over an hour on busy nights. Cyclists and hikers alike can make more leisurely journeys along the 30 plus-kilometre long Gold Coast Oceanway pathway.