Gold Coast - City GuideThe Gold Coast is a coastal city in the southeast corner of the state of Queensland in Australia, located between the state capital of Brisbane to the north and the New South Wales state border to the south. The Gold Coast has long been a high-profile tourist destination for Australians and overseas travelers alike. It also has a population of half a million residents. The name of the chief constituent city of the region, Surfers Paradise, says it all!
geographyThe Gold Coast stretch of coastal towns starting well north of Surfers Paradise and streching south to the state border with New South Wales in the south. With a warm climate and miles of beaches, the towns have grown rapidly, with retirees, commuters to Brisbane, and local workers. The northern end (especially Surfers Paradise to Broadbeach) is more commercialized, with plenty of action for backpackers and "schoolies" (school leavers celebrating the end of exams). The southern end still caters mainly to holidaying families. Away from the coast, the western side, called the "hinterland", consists of mountain ranges covered with rainforest, much of it part of national parks. Travelling the city from north to south takes about an hour of driving. There are many suburbs that make up Gold Coast, many with their own attractions.
beachesThere are 40km and well over 30 beaches to see and swim in. Almost all are patrolled by volunteer and professional lifesavers. The patrolled areas being enclosed by red and yellow flags. See the signs on any beach will show you the closest patrolled beaches at any particular time of year.
hinterlandReferred to as "the green behind the gold" (a reference to Australia's national colours - green and gold), the Gold Coast Hinterland is home to three national parks, numerous mountains, creeks, waterfalls valleys, and natural rock formations. The area is mostly covered in sub-tropical rainforest, but sections have been cleared for dairy farm land and wineries. The Hinterland is best seen by car or on a bus tour.
theme parksThe Gold Coast region is big on theme parks. Investigate ticket discounts before you go, as multi-park passes, combined travel and entry, and multi-day passes can usually be obtained at a discount. If you are a member of an Australian motoring association, you can purchase tickets from them before you travel at a discount. Movie World, Sea World and Wet'n'Wild are all owned by the same parent company, so if you're planning on hitting two or more of them it will probably be cheaper to check out one of their combo tickets.
shopCavill mall and surrounds have some cheap souvenir and t-shirt shops. There are dozens of stores around Surfers Paradise catering exclusively for the tourist market and Australian opals, sheepskins, wool products, and aboriginal "artefacts". Pacific Fair in Broadbeach contains a large number of chain and independent stores selling pretty much every consumer item you can think of, although its labyrinthine layout can be very confusing for the first-time visitor. Harbourtown in Biggera Waters is full of retail outlets, but is a bit out of the way to get to. Carrara markets is a massive outdoor market of over 500 stalls, selling everything from food to clothing to plants, and a lot more.
eatThe back arcades of Surfers Paradise have dozens of cheap Japanese and Korean "lunchbox" style restaurants and the quality is usually excellent, not to mention the price (less than $15 for a large main meal). Tedder Avenue in Main Beach and the Broadbeach area have the largest concentration of restaurants and cafés with food ranging from gourmet seafood to pub fare. Expect to pay $20–$50 for a main meal. Don't forget that most of the restaurants are BYO. There is an all you can eat Buffet in Conrad Jupiters Casino that offers lunch for $22.50, dinner for $40 (seafood on fri/sat for $50). The food there is delicious and there are plenty of entree's, mains, roasts and desserts. The only thing not included are desserts. Heading north to the Marina's around the Broadwater will put you right amongst the Gold Coast's freshest fish markets. Peter's Fish Market is just north of Marina Mirage and will happily cook fish and chips if you have nowhere to do it yourself.
drinkTry a local surf club for a cheap beer with a great view, you'll find one or two in every beachside suburb of the Gold Coast. They're generally located right in front of the beach their members patrol and serve deliciously affordable food and drinks. Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise offer the biggest choice of bars, clubs, and cafes, and you can order almost anything you can dream up. Further south, Coolangatta Surf Lifesaving Club, Tweed Heads & Coolangatta Surf Lifesaving Club and Rainbow Bay Surf Lifesaving Club have spectacular decks, good food and entertainment and friendly welcomes.
stayThere are plenty of great hotels, apartments, cottages and spa/villas to choose from. Check them out here.