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.
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.
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.
The kids will get a kick out of Surfers Paradise’s Green Cabs, the area’s famously fun pedicabs, and they won’t even have to pedal. Zip along the beachfront promenade or take a night tour and check out the street performers along the beach, and to prove their family-friendly credentials children under eight years old travel for free. Green Cabs operate every night and are available to hire between 6pm and 6am.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.