Explore Gold Coast

The lead-up to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games has seen an explosion of coastal cool in this glamorous beachside city

Published: 03 April 2018, Text by: Tourism Australia, Photos: Josephine Skapare

Getting Around

CRUISE THE COAST ON G:LINK
Running from Helensvale to Broadbeach South, the brand new G:link light rail connects many of the city’s main attractions, as well as most of the major Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) venues. During Games time, the G:link and other public transport are free for ticketed spectators travelling to and from competition events on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane. At other times, purchase a go card at any 7-Eleven store, Visitor Information Centre or Queensland Rail and tram station.

FREEDOM ON THE TOURIST SHUTTLE

Purchase a Freedom Pass for the Gold Coast Tourist Shuttle for door-to-door airport and theme parks transfers and unlimited access to local buses. The Freedom Pass includes return airport transfers, unlimited theme parks transfers and unlimited local bus travel.

What To Do

CULTURAL PRECINCT

A new cultural destination, the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct, is set to open just in time for GC2018, providing a cultural evolution for the region. Within walking distance of Surfers Paradise, the new heart for arts, culture and creative enterprise will include a versatile outdoor space with a large garden-style amphitheatre catering for audiences up to 5,000 for live performance and concerts, a lakeside area to host markets, festivals and cinema, and a pedestrian and cycle bridge linking the cultural hub with nearby Chevron Island and Surfers Paradise.

ARTS & CULTURE

Festival 2018 will be held across 12 days in April alongside GC2018. It will feature a mix of highly acclaimed theatrical productions, world-class musicians, breathtaking dance and physical theatre pieces, striking visual art and traditional Indigenous arts. The dynamic programme will see 100 installations pop up across 20 locations across the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville.

ICONIC BEACH CULTURE

The Gold Coast has some of the world’s most famous coastlines, so it would be remiss not to visit at least one of the city’s 42 golden beaches. Head to Coolangatta Esplanade for a game of beach volleyball at the new courts that have been installed ahead of GC2018. They are free to use and there is no need to book. Head down to Coolangatta’s stunning beach afterwards to cool down. Learn to surf like a pro at the aptly-named Surfers Paradise with Go Ride A Wave, or for something more relaxing, hire a stand-up paddleboard at Currumbin Boatshed.

WET’N’WILD BUGGY

The Gold Coast is the thrill-seeking capital of Australia and home to five of the country’s largest theme parks, Movie World, Dreamworld, WhiteWater World, Sea World and Wet’n’Wild. The newest and coolest purpose-built adventure track at Wet’n’Wild offers thrill seekers an opportunity to drive on the wild side and take on the 1.2-kilometre-long track riddled with jumps, rocks, water obstacles, and tunnels. The adventure track covers 30,000 square metres and the army spec vehicles will be certain to get your heart racing.

IT’S SNOWING!

The sun-and-surf city is adding a new outdoor snow park to its extensive list of tourist attractions, all without a single drop of snow. The synthetic snow park will feature multiple ski slopes, a family-friendly tube slide, air bag ramp for adrenaline seekers, and an ice karting track. With the large park expected to open by June 2018, check out the mini park in the heart of Surfers Paradise that even has Arrow Tag, a version of paint ball but with bows and arrows with foam tips.  

SOAK UP THE VIEW

For unrivalled 360-degree views of the Gold Coast, head to SkyPoint Observation Deck at Q1, Australia’s tallest building. Enjoy high tea with the most Instagrammable outlook in the country, spot whales migrating along the eastern coast or head to the Sunset Sounds session every Sunday afternoon. Those game enough can sign up for the SkyPoint Climb, traversing to the crow’s nest 290 metres in the air.

WATCH OUT FOR THE PARACHUTES!

In October, the Gold Coast will host the World Parachuting Championships, welcoming athletes from over 45 nations. The opening ceremony will kick off along Surfers Paradise’s main strip. Spectators will have the opportunity to watch over 100 parachutists dive from the air and land on the beach.

BUSH MEETS BEACH

In November, the iconic Surfers Paradise beach will be transformed into a bustling stockyard as a mob of horses, mules, sheep, dogs, piglets and a one-tonne bull will take up residence on the sand. Daily shows will give beachgoers an incredible outback experience in the most unlikely place as the animals are put through their paces to give city-slickers a taste of farm life. Sand rather than dust will fly as audiences witness piglet mustering, whip-cracking, animal tricks and hilarious bush-inspired antics as they become immersed in the quintessential Australian outback just metres from the sparkling Pacific Ocean.

MUSIC FEST

The masterminds behind the US Hangout Music Festival will bring their unique brand of events to Coolangatta Beach on the first weekend of December, debuting SandTunes Festival. This ground-breaking two-day event will be the largest of its kind to be staged on a Gold Coast beach and will see up to 35,000 people converge on the stretch of beach between Kirra and Greenmount, enjoying a range of music genres including rock, indie, hip-hop and electronic dance music. The festival line-up hasn’t been announced and tickets aren’t yet on sale, but keep your eyes peeled at destinationgoldcoast.com so you don’t miss out on what may just be the musical highlight of 2018.

Where To Eat

NIGHTQUARTER

NightQuarter is the Gold Coast’s new creative playground, featuring night markets, micro-restaurants and a unique live music space called The Paddock. Discover over 120 specialty food purveyors, designers, musicians and craftspeople within a shipping container city. Every weekend, the space comes alive with the best emerging artists and touring acts. Visitors can mix and match street food from a range of vendors. Enjoy bao, oysters, Gözleme, burgers and desserts.

THE COLLECTIVE, PALM BEACH

Enjoy all of your favourite cuisines rolled into one at The Collective, a 300-seat foodie destination where five restaurants and a rooftop bar have come together to bring visitors an innovative dining experience. Diners order from the collaborative menu, choosing dishes from the kitchens of any of the restaurants – burgers, Italian, Asian-fusion, Mexican and modern Australian cuisine – but pay in a single receipt, just like any other restaurant.

RICK SHORES, BURLEIGH HEADS  

Having just been awarded One Hat at the Good Food Guide Awards 2018, Rick Shores serves up some of the best Pan-Asian flavours in one of the Gold Coast’s most iconic locations right on the beach at Burleigh Heads. Take advantage of the natural sunlight spilling into the restaurant and a perfect backdrop of pristine beaches to capture a killer food shot that all of your followers will envy.

IKU YAKITORI, BURLEIGH HEADS

The newest venture from the owners of popular Etsu Izakaya at Mermaid Beach, this atmospheric space in an alley at Burleigh Heads offers traditional chicken skewers as well as flavour-packed salads, agedashi tofu, raw Hiramasa kingfish, karaage chicken and Wagyu sirloin.

MISS MONEYPENNY’S, BROADBEACH

Miss Moneypenny’s, one of Noosa’s most popular dining destinations, made its debut on the Coast in March. The chic space is located in a new ‘mini precinct’ adjacent to a brand new apartment tower, along with Fat Freddy’s Beach Bar & Diner – an American-style sports hotel. Miss Moneypenny’s focuses on shared dining with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours inspiring modern Australian dishes.

Where To Stay

THE STAR GOLD COAST

The crowning glory of the Gold Coast’s recent building boom, The Star Gold Coast launched a new AUD20 million (RM61 million) restaurant and bar on top of its new six-star hotel, The Darling, last month. The Darling features 57 luxury suites, from 70 to 328 square metres in size, with butler service and only the finest amenities and finishes, new signature bars and restaurants and world-class gaming amenities.  

BON SOL, BURLEIGH HEADS

bon Sol is an opulent new boutique hotel, with just two exclusive luxury apartments. Converted from a 1960s apartment complex, the interior design integrating a 1960s vibe with high quality fabrics and furnishings will leave you feeling like a star on a movie set. Adding to the luxe experience, the hotel offers a beach club-style service for guests, providing beach chairs, umbrellas and a cool box filled with water and soft drinks.

AVANI BROADBEACH RESIDENCES

Minor Hotel Group has expanded its portfolio into Australia with AVANI Broadbeach Residences. Take your pick from one- and two-bedroom apartments ideal for family stays, each with a balcony and fully equipped, self-catering kitchen and laundry facilities. The complex is also conveniently located a short stroll from Broadbeach's walking tracks and lush parklands, as well as the G:link light rail.

Where To Hang Out

THE BURLEIGH PAVILION

The iconic Pavilion on Burleigh Heads beach will relaunch after an AUD6 million (RM18 million) makeover, led by the same group behind Sydney's popular Manly Wharf Hotel, Mrs Sippys in Double Bay and the Seminyak beach club of the same name. Along with an exterior renovation, a new bistro, bar and event space will take over the building's top floor to soak up uninterrupted views of the beach.

HELENA’S ESPRESSO

Hordes of coffee lovers were left disappointed when Helena’s coffee hotspot closed in 2015. Now the beloved café has reopened in a great new spot in Nerang. Known for its trademark family charm, the café serves a Persian-inspired menu alongside some of Gold Coast’s best coffee. The selection of salads, sandwiches and baked goods changes daily to serve only the freshest seasonal produce and is often swayed by Helena’s mood on the day.

THE ROOSEVELT LOUNGE

If you’re after a swanky night of fine food, top-shelf drinks and great music, The Roosevelt Lounge is for you. Located in Broadbeach, the establishment will cater for a sophisticated crowd who appreciate the finer things in life. Treat yourself to extravagant sharing plates, fresh seafood, innovative meals and decadent desserts while sipping on a personalised cocktail created by one of the bar’s mixologists.

BREWS AND VIEWS

With the city transforming into a major player for hospitality in recent years, there are now some seriously stylish open-air spaces to play when the sun goes down. Justin’s Rooftop at Justin Lane in Burleigh is a perennial favourite for great food and tunes, while the Island Hotel at Surfers Paradise is home to the Island Rooftop, the Coast’s biggest rooftop bar and alfresco patio. Mr P.P.’s Deli & Rooftop opened in November 2017, bringing a great bar menu to the roof and a 1920s-themed wine bar downstairs.

CRAFT BREWERIES

Australians love a refreshing pint of golden beer, which is reflected in the boom of craft breweries offering a unique mix of boutique beers to locals. Balter Brewing Company has been enjoying record levels of visitors to its Currumbin establishment, which offers beer tasting paddles, live music and food trucks every weekend. Miami’s Lost Palms Brewing Co opened in November last year with a range of refreshingly unique brews. Along with these newcomers, try local favourites such as Burleigh Brewing in Burleigh Heads, Fortitude Brewing Co on Mount Tamborine or Stone & Wood Brewery in Byron Bay.

Where To Shop

Pacific Fair

It may have just turned 40, but the Gold Coast’s major shopping mall completed an AUD670 million (RM2 billion) transformation last year and is better than ever. Shop one of Australia’s largest collections of luxury brands alongside global mega brands. The shopping centre also contains over 20 casual and premium dining outlets.

Beach Front Markets

Held every Wednesday and Friday night, the Gold Coast Beachfront Markets in Surfers Paradise are among the largest and most popular. One hundred and twenty stallholders stretch along the scenic foreshore selling their wares and souvenirs.

Burleigh Heads Boutiques

Burleigh Heads is known as a mecca mainly for two things – health food outlets and local designer boutiques. Head to James Street for an array of shops selling vintage and bohemian-style clothing, jewellery and homeware. Recover afterwards with a refreshing acai bowl and a green smoothie at one of the many health food eateries sprinkled throughout the neighbourhood.

The Burleigh Common

Good vibes and strong community feels are alive and well at The Burleigh Common, an eclectic space selling locally made homeware, fashion and art. It also has parking for food trucks and a space for seminars and film screenings.

Worth The Trek

OUT IN THE WILDERNESS

There is no shortage of natural beauty in the Gold Coast Hinterland, with stunning wilderness accessible just a 40-minute drive from Surfers Paradise. Visit the Natural Bridge rock formation in Springbrook National Park, breathtaking waterfalls and valleys of Lamington National Park’s Green Mountains, the rugged mountains of Mount Barney National Park, and the stunning Queen Mary Falls Circuit of the Main Range National Park. Head to O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat at Lamington National Park for a treatment at O’Reillys Lost World Spa or for an adventure, zipline over the rainforest canopy at Mount Tambourine with TreeTop Challenge.
 

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