Gold Coast - Travel Guide

"It's where Australians go on holidays", all the brochures say. It's true too. Like the Florida of the Southern Hemisphere, golden beaches fenced by holiday towers and a tourism infrastructure fine-tuned since the 50s attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Families are the prime target, school leavers, backpackers, Japanese surfer boys, racing car enthusiasts and retirees follow suit. If surf and sand is your thing, the Coast is a must-see part of Australia. The World-Heritage listed National Parks behind the mountains take the glare off the glitz.

History of the Gold Coast

Those same mountains were the first draw-card for European settlers in the mid-1800s. Full of red cedar and not far from Brisbane, the area in and around Lamington National Park was a fantastic felling-ground for fine timber. The plains on either side of the Great Divide weren't the most fertile territory in the world, but they quickly attracted their share of cows and farmhouses.

Things stayed pretty languid for a while. Then the motor car came along. When Brisbaners realised there was a treasure trove of sandy beaches a day's trip south, the hoteliers and entrepreneurs quickly set up shop.

By the 1950s there were a bunch of beach shacks, by the 1960s the first high rise apartment blocks started to appear, along with the first theme parks. The 1970s and 1980s brought more of the same, and by the 1990s the Gold Coast was the most popular family holiday destination in the country, not to mention the city with the fastest growing population.

What's the Gold Coast like Now?

Look in the right place and you'll see a region of great natural beauty with a thriving economy, plenty of money, outstanding weather and a skyline you can either love or hate. No other destination in Australia has so much stuff for kids to do at such close range, and if you want a place in the sun, it's hard to beat. You wouldn't go to the Gold Coast looking for a wilderness escape, but if you want an anonymous Australian holiday, this is the place.

Getting to the Gold Coast

Fly. Virgin Blue and Jetstar run hourly services to the major Australian cities, and if you're coming in from overseas, Brisbane International airport is an hour up the road. If you're driving up the coast from Sydney and you make it to Byron Bay, it's worth going the extra 100km, even just to have a look.

Getting around the Gold Coast

Hiring a car from a local operator will give you the greatest freedom to see and do everything that interests you. That being said, as a prime tourism hotspot, most major attractions will have shuttle buses that visit the main hotel loop. Talk to reception wherever you’re staying and they should be able to give some pretty good advice.

There are plenty of taxis available but they can get pretty busy on a Friday and Saturday night. The public bus network can also get you around from A to B and you can get the timetables on your smart phone.

Things to Do on the Gold Coast

  • There are four major theme parks
  • Go to the beach
  • Check out the World-Heritage listed mountain rainforests in the Gold Coast Hinterland
  • Take a look at our full list of things to do on the Gold Coast.

Where to Eat

·         Broadbeach (just south of Surfers Paradise) has the greatest concentration of restaurants.

·         Main Beach (just north of Surfers Paradise) is the place to be seen easting.

·         The food in Surfers Paradise is pretty good and there are lots of hidden Japanese and Korean lunch box style cafes tucked away in the side alleys which are well worth a look.

Where to Go Out

Surfers Paradise has most of the bars, nightclubs and cafes

Gold Coast Accommodation

Where the movie stars stay

Good, Reasonably Priced Hotels

Cheap and Cheerful Accommodation

Budget and Backpackers

Interesting Places nearby

  • Byron Bay is just down the road (100km, one hour drive)
  • Brisbane is just up the road (75km, 45 minutes’ drive)

 

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