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Blessed with sunny days and plenty of action, Brisbane is one of the fastest growing capital cities in the world but is uncomplicated, laid-back and fun-loving. Brisbane comes alive each day as its subtropical temperatures call people from their beds year round to wake up and smell the coffee, soak up the sunshine and drink in the view of the winding Brisbane River. Walk through the City Botanic Gardens and dine alfresco along Eagle Street Pier. Climb the Story Bridge and abseil down the side, James Bond style. Run the 107 steps at the Kangaroo Point Cliffs… or just have a barbecue overlooking the city as the sun goes down. High-culture, no pretension Experience the festival buzz of South Bank, with markets, bars, restaurants, live performances and Australia’s only inner-city beach, providing the ultimate free playground. Watch Broadway shows and explore the museums and art galleries of the Cultural Precinct. Discover independent dance, theatre and comedy in Fortitude Valley’s eclectic performance spaces.Shop in boutique-filled inner-city boroughs – each with their own special personality. There are plenty of decidedly un-city places to explore within a short drive of Brisbane. Hand-feed wild dolphins on Moreton Island or camp on the beachfront at North Stradbroke Island. Indulge in local wine at a family-run vineyard. Hike through national parks and get high in the mountains of the Scenic Rim.
On the Sunshine Coast, the only thing more refreshing than the water is the lifestyle. With its endless beaches, lush rainforests and easy smiles, it’s a place where you will feel like a local from the moment you arrive. Choose your patch of sand from over 100 kilometres of pristine coastline – stretching from Caloundra in the south to Noosa and the rainbow sands of the Cooloola coast in the north – and soak up the warm sunshine and laid-back atmosphere. Paddle into the home of longboarding with a surf lesson at Noosa’s Main Beach.Hire a boat, kayak or stand-up paddle board and cruise the calm waters of Pumicestone Passage or one of the many lakes and inlets. Build sandcastles, eat fish and chips, or just lay back with a book on Mooloolaba Beach.Swim, ride and run your way through a triathlon, marathon or fun run with the best views on the coast. From rolling surf to rolling hills, the Sunshine Coast Hinterland is full of natural beauty, cosy cafes and boutiques waiting to be discovered. Be entertained by local artists and stock up on arts and crafts at Eumundi Markets. Take in the view from the Glass House Mountains or wander through national parks and trails.Pair local cheese and wine in Maleny or treat yourself to high tea and antique shopping in Montville.Sample the ‘Sunny Coast’With award-winning restaurants, food trails, vibrant food festivals and bustling farmers markets, the Sunshine Coast is one giant celebration of food and wine. Tick off your foodie bucket list with beachfront and rainforest restaurants worth travelling for. Sample just-picked strawberries and fresh-caught seafood at an outdoor farmer’s market. Create your own cuisine at one of the many cooking schools.
From the iconic Surfers Paradise beach to the sophisticated dining precincts of Main Beach and Broadbeach and out to the lush, green Hinterland, there’s a new experience waiting for you at every turn on the Gold Coast. Theme parks, world-renowned beaches and year-round sunshine are just a few of the reasons 10.5 million visitors flock to this vibrant city each year - a destination which is as scenic and peaceful as it is fast paced and active.
Boy has bustling Broadbeach come a long way baby. Once the little brother to big sister Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach or “Broadie” to locals, is all grown up. We could start in the surf, with its beautiful beaches, framed by lazy parks home to weekend markets and weekday yoga classes. Or wander down the Broadbeach Mall, peppered with roving street artists and framed by alfresco dining whose tentacles seem to keep spreading in all directions. Yes, you’ve now met one of the Gold Coast’s dining divas, with everything from gourmet delis, to bistros and brasseries. There’s five-star feasts to be had along here too, and seemingly a new restaurant or bar every time you blink. Not that it’s overdone. That’s not Broadie’s style. If you do want some razzle dazzle, head across the Gold Coast Highway to Jupiters Hotel & Casino, with its 24-hour casino, bars, lounges, restaurants and shows galore. You’ll also find the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre here, home to top international and Australian recording artists and business conference. Let’s not forget that other icon – Pacific Fair – one of Australia’s largest retail centres with more than 300 stores, cinemas, and casual dining. And when the sun and fun finally sets on your day, choose from a wide range of accommodation options. All the top brand hotels in Asia/Pacific have taken up residence here, as have some super swanky apartments. Sure, Broadbeach has grown up, but it will always be Broadie to us.
Situated at the northern end of the Gold Coast, Main Beach was so named as it was the main surf beach to the town of Southport. A highlight of a visit here is to the beach itself, where the old bathing pavilion, Pavilion 34 to be precise, has been reincarnated as a casual beach café complete with chikko rolls, potato scallops, pineapple fritters and fish and chips. Away from the beach - popular with surfers due to its open shore break - toddle down to Tedder Avenue. Sassy socialites and salty surfies rub shoulders here in this strip of modern cafes, exclusive restaurants, bars and boutiques. For more shopping and style, take a wander towards the Southport Spit – or simply The Spit - to locals. Along the Gold Coast Broadwater opposite Southport, you’ll encounter high-end hotels such as Palazzo Versace and exclusive shopping at Marina Mirage. The Southport Yacht Club also sits here and services the beautiful boats which dot these waters. Still further along this slither of land you’ll find the iconic theme park Sea World. Continue a bit further along and you’ll end up at The Spit and the entrance to the Gold Coast Seaway. The true beauty of Main Beach is that it’s where the fish and chip set mix with the bold and beautiful in that true Aussie spirit of egalitarianism.
The Gold Coast’s original epicentre of fun has been rejuvenated, and is now overflowing with a renewed energy you’ll fall in love with. Stay in beachside accommodation and ease into your trip with an emerging café and restaurant scene, explore the revitalised foreshore precinct, then later on, be swept away by the spectacular range of after-dark entertainment. When you add these with the world-famous beaches, 7-day late night shopping, family favourite attractions, and the new light-rail network connecting neighbouring precincts, now’s the perfect time to rediscover an icon - Surfers Paradise.
Just 30 minutes from Gold Coast Airport, you'll discover that Surfers Paradise is a must see, must stay destination experience. Surfers Paradise is the entertainment capital of Queensland with an array of nightclubs, pubs, bars and clubs, all within a two kilometre range and most operating into the early hours.
Some say this is the green behind the gold, which makes the Gold Coast so seductive, and it’s easy to see why Tamborine Mountain is in tune with tourists. Let’s start with the rainforest, in the third oldest National Park in the world, which celebrates the remnants of the former Mount Warning volcano. There are numerous walks and lookouts from which to enjoy Mother Nature at her most blindingly brilliant, including the mysteriously-named Witches Falls or charming Cedar Creek. There’s 12 walking tracks in all and each one is no longer than around 3km, so if you like a stroll among the birds, bees, flowers and the trees, this is for you. For a change of pace, enjoy several wineries, a brewery and even a distillery up on the mountain, which is perfectly punctuated with award-winning restaurants, art galleries, sweeping coastal views and that delicious mix of old and new-world charm. Indulge in home-grown produce such as avocados, kiwifruits and macadamia nuts as well as award-winning cheeses and fabulous fudge, or dine in some seriously swish restaurants. Select from cosy cottages, decadent dwellings and a hotel or two, including the iconic St Bernard’s Hotel, in which to stay the night. Explore the area by yourself, or join a tour which takes in a number of attractions such as Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk and the Glow Worm Caves. Romantics rush to the mountains to get married here and it’s easy to see why. For this is Queensland’s own Emerald City. That’s right Dorothy, you are not in Kansas anymore. This is Oz.
If the Gold Coast hinterland was home to a supermodel it would most certainly be Springbrook with its Antarctic beech trees, native wildlife and luscious lookouts. After all, where else can you find a place named The Best of All Lookout? Your biggest issue here will be where to start. Visitors are spoiled for choice with four sections to Springbrook National Park which sits 36km from Nerang. Springbrook plateau offers loads of lookouts and the fabulous views you can expect from this World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest.
Mount Cougal, which sits to the east, offers an insight into the area’s logging history while Natural Bridge to the west is home to a beautiful waterfall by day and glowworms at night. Numinbah also sits to the west. Pack a picnic and enjoy lunch along the shaded banks of the Nerang River at Forest Park.
There’s also camping in the Settlement Area and wildlife galore including lace monitors, black skinks and carpet pythons. More than 100 bird species live in this park and visitors are most likely to hear, rather than see, the elusive and unique Albert’s lyrebird who lives here. Among the creeks and waterways you’ll find frogs, crayfish and eels. Boasting nine walking tracks, and a guided walking program, it’s your boots you’ll need most of all here. Take your time and wander through cool forests and paddle among mountain streams. Enjoy the subtropical and temperate rainforest, open eucalypt forest and montane heath. Talk to the animals. Go on, take a hike, in the nicest possible sense, along nature’s colourful catwalk. View the 5 must see things in Springbrook.
Lamington National Park
Lamington National Park is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, the most extensive subtropical rainforest in the world. The area is renowned for its beautiful waterfalls and more than 160 kilometres of walking trails, including the 21.4 kilometre Border track, built in the late 1930’s and the Caves circuit which has views out over Coomera Valley. Lamington was saved from the logging and farming that changed much of the McPherson Range after being declared in 1915, and nature-lovers will be enchanted by the Antarctic Beech, wildflowers and rare wildlife that thrive in the area.
Burleigh Heads, or simply Burleigh to locals, sits like a cool comma between Surfers Paradise to the north and Coolangatta to the south. It’s a picturesque punctuation mark along the Gold Coast and most definitely somewhere to pause. Let’s start with the beach, which enjoys dual popularity with those who like to swim in her protected waters and those who love to surf around the headland. On a day when it might be a little choppy everywhere else along the Coast, you can bet your bottom dollar there’s a protected corner at Burleigh in which to dip. Even strict landlubbers will adore this destination for the Burleigh Heads National Park which wraps around the headline like a fashionable head scarf, offering views of the ocean on the left and a number of walking trails and wildlife to experience. The Burleigh foreshore is home to towering fragrant pine trees characteristic of the coast and in this parkland there are plenty of places in which to picnic or barbecue. This is also an ideal spot for regular art and craft markets, where you haggle and forage along the foreshore with the ocean shouting encouragement in the background. Absolute oceanfront dining exists here where you’ll swear the fish on your plate has jumped straight out of the water, and there’s a burgeoning funky café culture in these parts. New designers are also starting to pepper the shopping areas and an amble along here won’t disappoint. Head inland to West Burleigh in which a large industrial park contains some great shopping and a delicious dining scene. Perhaps this coastal point’s comma should be an exclamation mark instead.
Visitors flock to the Southern Gold Coast for its change of pace. From here, you can look back towards the Surfers Paradise skyline in the distance and the entire coastline and really feel you’ve slowed down. The surf here is spectacular, particularly off the northern corner of Coolangatta Beach, the headland around Greenmount, Snapper Rocks into the southern corner of Rainbow Bay and of course, the world-class surf break of Duranbah. The southern suburbs of Palm Beach, Currumbin and Kirra exude old-school beachside charm where you can still find a milkshake in a tin cup. It combines this with world-class oceanfront hotels, restaurants and clubs plus an array of retro festivals. Currumbin Currumbin is home to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and Surf World Gold Coast, an attraction which pays homage to the coast’s surfing history.
Head off the highway and drive past Currumbin Creek Estuary and “the alley” which is a popular spot with surfers. Lovely steep hills roll down towards the ocean from where you can enjoy a range of watersports including kite-surfing, kayaking, board riding, surf skiing and stand-up paddle boarding. Palm Beach If the Gold Coast had a middle child it would possibly be Palm Beach, nestled between Tallebudgera Creek on one side and Currumbin Creek on the other. Palm Beach is one of laid-back living and is one of the best examples of where rambling beach shacks still survive, perched petulantly on million-dollar blocks. Surfers and sunbakers flock to Palm Beach for its wide, sandy and spectacular beach.
Kirra Beach There’s variations on what the word Kirra actually means, but some believe Queensland Aborigines named it after a boomerang. Which makes sense as Kirra wraps evocatively around the bend separating Coolangatta and Kirra beaches and in front of Kirra Hill. Surfers still flock to Kirra bend for its world-class breaks despite beach erosion issues changing the game and nature of the surf spot a bit. Still, there’s plenty of character to be had in one of the Gold Coast’s most laid-back beach destinations and home to Kirra Surf which surfies consider the one-stop shop for surf gear. Snapper Rocks Without a doubleftt, this is the Gold Coast’s most popular surf beach. It has consistently favourable conditions for boardriders, which is a big reason why the Quiksilver pro surfing tour takes place there each year. Snapper has good clean waves and probably the best barrels on the Gold Coast, and is generally best for surfers when there’s a south-easterly swell. Another big advantage for this beach is that it’s the starting point for the well-known Super bank, a man-made surf break, allowing surfers to catch a wave all the way through to Coolangatta – which isn’t a bad run.
South Stradbroke Island
Step aside Gilligan. Should you ever find yourself stranded on South Stradbroke Island or ‘South Straddie’ as the locals like to call her, then you can count your lucky stars. For you are visiting a Gold Coast destination as pretty as Ginger and as down-to-earth as Mary Ann. Not that you are too far away from civilisation on this sand island near Southport which is only 200 metres from the northern end of the Spit. This makes it a great day trip for those who travel by private boat, charter boat, ferry or water taxi from several departure points along the Gold Coast. There’s three council campsites on the island, as well as a café, for those who wish to extend their stay. And who wouldn’t? South Straddie offers superb surfing, swimming and bushwalking. There’s loads of native wildlife among this 1800-hectare conservation park which is ideal for hiking, rock climbing and ocean fishing. Becoming stranded never looked so good.