Ditch the chunky knits, pack your swim suit, and escape the winter blues in Australia’s Gold Coast. Jessica Challoner-Sterland finds out what the sun-filled city has to offer.
Situated on Australia’s east coast south of Brisbane, the Gold Coast is an exciting metropolis renowned for its golden sandy beaches, glittering high-rise buildings and lush, green Hinterland. Perfect for sun seekers, the Gold Coast boasts a sub-tropical climate with around 300 days of sunshine each year. During the months of January-March, there is an average temperature of 21-28.4°C, great for those in need of some winter sun. From surfing to exhilarating theme parks and stunning scenery to exotic animals, there’s an abundance of experiences and fun waiting to be had.
Take to great heights and experience O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk. The first of its kind in Australia, the walk is in Lamington National Park and is 180 metres in length and made up of nine suspension bridges. Stroll through a canopy of trees and marvel at the many species that inhabit the treetops.
Visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the world’s first and largest, the sanctuary is home to not only koalas, but a wide variety of other native Australian animals. Connect with the wildlife through interactive experiences and photo opportunities that include hand-feeding the kangaroos and holding the koalas. (www.koala.net/en-au).
In need of some retail therapy? Head to the Pacific Fair shopping centre, the Gold Coast’s prime shopping destination. Set amongst a beautiful tropical landscape, Pacific Fair boasts over 100 stores with an appealing mix of both luxury and high-street brands, from Louis Vuitton to Zara. (www.pacificfair.com.au).
If you’re after a lively atmosphere filled with world-class nightlife, beach-front markets and international events, then the iconic Surfers Paradise is the place to be. Bustling throughout the day, the beachfront boulevard comes alive with walkers, skateboarders and cyclists overlooking the surf and golden sands. (www.surfersparadise.com).
Get lost in a world of fantasy at the movie related theme park, Warner Bros. Movie World. Enjoy a day of thrilling rides, children’s attractions and family entertainment. Watch the magical stars parade on Movie World’s famous Main Street and see characters like Bugs Bunny, Batman and Wonder Woman come together. (www.movieworld.com.au).
A trip to the renowned Fish House is a must whilst visiting the Gold Coast. Located in Burleigh Heads, it’s Australia’s leading fine dining and seafood restaurant offering a variety of fish including coral trout, whole baby snapper and swordfish. With its delicious fresh seafood options and superb wine selection, it’s no wonder the Fish House is one of the most awarded eateries on the Gold Coast. (www.thefishhouse.com.au).
Funky decor and tasty food come together beautifully at the Hideaway Kitchen and Bar. Its suspended umbrellas, bar swings and graffiti-filled walls certainly make this restaurant a truly unique experience, and its menu is equally as enticing. Sample Asian street food with a modern twist and indulge in everything from fried wagyu beef dumplings to Fremantle octopus. (www.hideawaykitchen.com.au).
On a budget? The Mermaid Beach’s Après Surf is good for a cheap bite. Along with its eclectic coastal theme and buzzing atmosphere, this casual kitchen and bar is great for unwinding with your friends over a cold beer and hearty food. (www.facebook.com/apressurfmermaidbeach).
Experience 5-star luxury at the Palazzo Versace, the world’s first fashion-inspired hotel. With no expense or detail spared, immerse yourself in the Versace lifestyle and enjoy the exclusive waterfront setting, lavish accommodation and spectacular facilities. (www.palazzoversace.com).
Be at one with nature and allow your daily stresses to disappear at the Mouses House Rainforest Retreat. Nestled within the enchanting Gold Coast Hinterland, stay at one of the 14 unique chalets, each named after a Disney character. The chalets come with captivating views, a spa bath and a modern self-contained kitchen. (www.mouseshouse.com.au).
Located in the heart of Surfers Paradise, the lively Backpackers Paradise is a great place for travellers to stay. Close to the beaches, shopping and nightlife, the hostel offers a variety of affordable dormitories and en-suite rooms to accommodate everyone. (www.backpackersinparadise.com).