World-famous sandy beaches, exciting theme parks and the chance to see Australian wildlife up close, the Gold Coast offers plenty for those on a family getaway.
By Paul Chai
The Gold Coast is a great spot for travelling families due to the wide range of activities on offer. Sure, you can head for the rollercoasters and water slides of the area’s famous theme parks, but you can also do so much more. Fancy taking a quad bike through hinterland rainforest? How about getting a bird's-eye view of the region from the 77th floor of Australia’s highest sky deck? There is plenty to keep the kids, and adults, amused in Surfers Paradise and surrounds.
Visit the Gold Coast glow worms
In Springbrook National Park the glowing lights don’t come from skyscrapers or restaurants but from thousands of glow worms living in a cave at Natural Bridge. You can take a night bushwalk down to this luminous natural wonder in the Gold Coast hinterland and watch the glow worms light up the cave like tiny stars, all to the soundtrack of a crashing waterfall. Tour GC will take you for an afternoon walk to check the cave out, and then you return at night for the light show.
Learn to surf
Always wanted to try your hand at surfing? Then Surfers Paradise is the right place to be! The experienced instructors here will have you catching waves in no time and hooked on to surfing long before you know it. And the best part? You don’t need to know how to swim to learn surfing.
Explore Gold Coast bike paths
The Gold Coast is one of the best spots in Australia for a family bike ride thanks to the nearly 800 kilometres (500 miles) of cycling paths that have been integrated into the city’s town planning. This means you can grab a bike way map and a bicycle from Beach Bikes, and visit the canals and beachside suburbs of Broadbeach far from the traffic, or head into the hinterland and explore sweeping views of Currumbin Valley or the tough climbs and tight switchbacks of the challenging Mount Tamborine track.
Ride a fire truck
Yes, you read that right! You can actually go around the Gold Coast in a fire truck. You'll even have a chance to operate a fully functional fire hose. Definitely something your kids will love. Fire4Hire runs daily tours for a duration of 45 minutes to one hour that take you to various attractions around the Gold Coast including Surfers Paradise, Narrowneck, Main Beach and Sea World.
Climb to the top of Q1
Q1 Resort and Spa in the heart of Surfers Paradise is the tallest residential tower in Australia and perched on top of it, on the 77th floor, is the SkyPoint Observation Deck. This is Australia’s only observation deck next to the beach so you can gaze out to sea or look back along the coast for a dazzling 360 degree view. If you feel like a snack, head to the adjoining Seventy7 Café and Bar.
Visit the Gold Coast's theme parks
The Gold Coast has the best collection of theme parks in Australia, from thrilling rides to gigantic water slides. The family fun might include a visit to Sea World where you can take on the Storm Coaster ride or check out the sea creatures in Shark Bay and Ray Reef. Film fans can visit Movie World where they can get up close and personal with Batman’s villains in the Arkham Asylum ride or get a scare on the Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster. Or there is Wet 'n' Wild that has the FlowRider wave ride.
See animals at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Australian wildlife takes centre stage at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can watch live bird shows, check out the Crocodile Behaviour Show or learn more about the area’s indigenous history at the Aboriginal Dance Show. Kids will love the chance to cuddle a koala and feed the resident kangaroos. But Currumbin has also been caring for sick and injured wildlife for years so make sure you check out the Wildlife Hospital where you can see vets helping to heal current patients.
Drive a buggy along the beach
On a Gold Coast Island Buggy Tour you can cruise across to South Stradbroke Island from Mariners Cove and hit the sand in easy-to-drive 4WD buggies. Drive the Stradbroke dunes on this fun, half-day tour that also includes sandboarding and a Segway tour through the bush – so you have all modes of transport covered. It finishes with a visit to see local wallabies and a cold drink and dip in the ocean, before the tour heads back to the Gold Coast.
Mount Tamborine Forest Walk
Take a walk amid the rainforest canopy at Mount Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk, where the 45-minute wander along steel bridges and walkways will take you 30 metres (8 feet) above the rainforest below. The walk begins from the Eco Gallery centre that is full of information about the forest and also has the Birdwing Café, named after the region’s bright green Birdwing butterfly.
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