Gold Coast, Queensland © Tourism and Events Queensland
Trevor Hendy’s guide to the Gold Coast
Celebrated surf lifesaver Trevor Hendy names his pick of Gold Coast attractions no visitor should miss.
Interviewed by Dan F Stapleton
Trevor Hendy became a household name in the 1980s when he began competing in the Australian Ironman surf lifesaving competition. He won the gruelling challenge six times before starting a successful career as a corporate speaker and personal mentor. A Gold Coast resident since he was five years old, Trevor is one of south-east Queensland’s most passionate advocates, alongside his wife Jo. “This place gets under your skin in all the right ways,” he says. “It’s halfway between a city and a country town, with enough life to keep you entertained but enough stillness to keep you healing.” Here are some of Trevor’s most cherished Gold Coast locations, from natural landmarks to happening restaurants and bars.
Outdoor secret spot: The Warrie Circuit at Springbrook National Park
“The full Warrie Circuit is a little over 17 kilometres (10.5 miles) of stunning national park rainforest, less than an hour’s drive from the Gold Coast’s beaches. There are about a dozen different water crossings, including a couple of little swimming holes. On weekdays, you’ll almost certainly be out there alone. On Saturday or Sunday, if you hit the track early at sunrise, you will be three-quarters of the way around before you start bumping into the weekend throngs. Jo and I go out there whenever we need to pretend we’re on holidays. There are other paradise-like waterfall destinations on the Gold Coast but the Warrie Circuit is hard to beat.”
Lesser known suburb: Palm Beach
“The small suburb of Palm Beach, at the southern end of the Gold Coast, has a lot to offer – an amazing beach, a cool café strip and a boutique shopping precinct – yet most people drive straight past on their way to the better-known Currumbin or Coolangatta regions. The beach alone is worth the visit; with a slight bend to face north-east, it’s protected from summer southerly winds. There are wonderful little sand banks here, and when you finish your surf or swim you can walk off the beach straight into a beautiful café. For a meal with a view, visit the Tallebudgera or Palm Beach surf clubs.”
Palm Beach is dear to Trevor’s heart: in 2014, he was one of many locals who joined in efforts to save a juvenile humpback whale that beached itself here.
Eat Street: James Street
“For establishments with character, you can’t go past Burleigh Heads, and in particular, James Street. Jo and I stop here for lunch whenever we need a little time out during the day. The selection ranges from wonderful poké bowls and sushi to fish and chips, vegetarian and our favourite coffee spot, Social Brew. From James Street, it is a two-minute walk to Burleigh Beach to watch world-renowned surfers riding world-class waves.”
Favourite bar: Shark Bell Bar
“Upstairs at the Surfers Paradise Surf Life Saving Club, this local favourite boasts an awesome vista plus great food and affordable drinks. It’s also a great place to bring kids – there’s a gelato station, which is always a big hit. It is particularly enjoyable on Sunday afternoons, when there is live music and a beautiful relaxed atmosphere. It’s also a great place for brekky or lunch, and one of the Coast’s top spots on New Year’s Eve. I grew up watching the New Year’s fireworks from this bar and it is still my fave.”
Destination shopping experience: Pacific Fair
“There are so many amazing places to shop on the Gold Coast, but most people would feel they have missed out if they didn’t visit Pacific Fair, located in the heart of Broadbeach. This used to be known as one of the biggest shopping centres in the Southern Hemisphere and it is still mightily impressive. I live around the corner and visit often – it always feels like it is an outing, not just a shopping trip. There are many high-end brands at Pacific Fair, such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton, and if you need a new swimming costume this is the place to go – there’s Speedo and Rip Curl, as well as a Surf Dive ’n Ski store.”
Only on the Gold Coast: outdoor excellence
“Only on the Gold Coast can you be at a world-class surf spot on the shores of the pristine Pacific Ocean and 45 minutes later be hiking to a world-class waterfall in an ancient rainforest. There is so much culture and life in between, with amazing shopping, dining and connected communities. If you head to the south end, you get the world’s best waves and hidden headland corners. If you head to the north end, you can discover Australia’s best theme parks. The Gold Coast is all about being outside – it is all about being happy and healthy and balancing your life with all of the best things.”
Favourite hotel: Sea World Resort
“If you have children, it is hard to go past Sea World Resort. It is surrounded by water – with ocean to the east, and the Broadwater estuary to the west – but more importantly it sits at the north end of the Sea World marine park, with its own private entrance gate. Sea World has a focus on conservation and marine rescue: it has found a nice balance between entertainment and education, favouring meaningful marine experiences over simple spectacle.”