Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast, Queensland © Matt Harvey, Tourism and Events Queensland
Family fun on the Gold Coast
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 and Leah Dobihal
With a range of activities ranging from relaxing to exhilarating, the Gold Coast is a great spot for travelling families. Sure, you can head for the roller coasters and water slides of the area’s famous theme parks, but you can also do so much more. Watersports, sky decks, ziplines and wildlife parks will keep kids and adults amused on the Gold Coast.
Visit the Gold Coast glow worms
In Tamborine National Park, the glowing lights don’t come from skyscrapers but from thousands of glow worms illuminated against the dark forest. With Southern Cross 4WD Tours, the whole family can see the night come to life in a secluded spot away from the tourist track. Enjoy pick-up from your Gold Coast hotel and a stop at a cosy hinterland hotel before being awe-struck by a blanket of glowing worms. There's even a waterfall at the end of your walk.
Explore the Gold Coast by bike
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, suburbs and hinterland. For smaller children, check out Green Cabs in Surfers Paradise. The famously fun pedicabs let kids zip along the beachfront promenade without the need to pedal.
Book a beginner's surf lesson
Kids as young as six years old can enjoy one of the Gold Coast's most riveting activities – surfing. Get Wet Surf School offers an introductory surf class specifically designed for children aged six to 12. Kids will learn about surf safety, steps to standing on the board and even ride a broken wave with the assistance of an instructor.
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 Aboriginal 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.
Get your heart pumping with watersports
The Gold Coast is a destination for all ages, and Gold Coast Watersports has an experience suited to every family. Children aged six and up can ride as a passenger on a jet ski tour, and teens aged sixteen and up can drive it themselves. Parasailing is sure to get your adrenaline pumping, and for the ultimate thrill, give a Flyboard experience a try (ages 12 and up). You'll find yourself flying like a bird and diving like a dolphin.
Turn up the fun at Thunderbird Park
With several activities on offer, Thunderbird Park is a place where the fun never ends. The property stretches over 112 hectares (276 acres) on Tamborine Mountain, so there's plenty of space for horse trail riding, gemstone fossicking, mini golf, bird feeding, TreeTop Challenges and more. There's even camping and accommodation on-site, making this park a true one-stop-shop for families.