Difference between revisions of "Gold Coast"
Revision as of 09:15, 17 September 2012
The Gold Coast is a large city with many districts, see articles for Surfers Paradise and Tweed Heads and Coolangatta containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings for those districts
The 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, with Surfers Paradise being the hub of tourist activity.
The Gold Coast is a large urban area with a population of 550,000 administered by the Gold Coast City Council (headquartered at Evandale in Surfers Paradise) and the Tweed Shire in NSW. It is a key part of Greater Brisbane, a conurbation of over 3 million people. The Gold Coast shares its infrastructure, facilities, services and labour market with Brisbane to the north. Workers commonly commute between the two by rail and road.
Unfortunately, many tourists believe the highrise buildings and crowds of Surfers Paradise make it an overdeveloped 'tourist trap'. Most of these buildings are however local residential. The city also has many services and industries not directly related to tourism.
The Gold Coast, that visitors are more familiar with, stretches along the coastal suburbs from Paradise Point to Tweed Heads (about 35km). Surfers Paradise, towards the northern end, is the hub of the leisure activity.
Districts or Suburbs (North to South)
The Gold Coast Hinterland is the largely rural area away from the coast. It begins west of the Pacific Motorway, and consists of mountain ranges covered with rainforest, much of which is national parks.
The Gold Coast has a mild, sub-tropical climate, with consistent temperatures year-round, with an average high of 29 degrees C in January and 21 degrees in July. The winter months tend to have little rainfall, while the summer has frequent storms originating from the west.
It is a fairly small terminal but handles around 3.5 million passengers per year with frequent connections from major Australian cities and some international flights from New Zealand and Asia. It is NOT a 24hr airport and closes at night, so don't plan on spending the night before an early morning flight. It is around 30 minutes drive to Surfers Paradise. There is a shuttle bus connecting the airport to the main Surfside buses route on Gold Coast Hwy between Tweed Heads and Surfers Paradise.
Queensland Rail runs an electric CityTrain service  from Brisbane to Coomera, Helensvale, Nerang and Robina. Trains run half hourly from 6 am to midnight, 7 days per week taking approximately 70 minutes from Brisbane Central to Nerang and Robina. The trains can get crowded at peak times. Buses connect from Helensvale, Nerang and Robina to Surfers Paradise, Coolangatta, and into northern New South Wales.
As the train runs parallel to the coast you should check which station is actually closest to your final destination in the Gold Coast.
Countrylink in NSW  runs trains from Sydney with bus connections at Casino for services direct to Surfers Paradise or Tweed Heads. However this is a very slow, 11.5 hrs, and expensive service. Set aside a whole day for the trip.
All attractions around the Gold Coast are accessible by car, and there are large parking lots at the theme parks and other attractions. Parking meters are found in the busiest streets of Surfers Paradise, Southport and Burleigh Heads, but free parking can be found a few street blocks away. There are paid parking areas in Surfers Paradise and Southport operated by shopping centres and the city council that charge about $1 per hour, the largest is the Bruce Bishop Car Park adjacent to the transit centre.
The Gold Coast doesnt suffer from the same congestion as Brisbane, largely because it has several business centres. The morning peak hour is 7 am to 8.30 am, while the afternoon peak is 3.30 pm to 5 pm. Roads to avoid at these times include Bundall Road, Southport-Nerang Road, The Gold Coast Hwy at Surfers Paradise and the Pacific Motorway between Nerang and Palm Beach.
Most car rental dealers are located in the main business district of the suburb, between the Gold Coast Highway and Surfers Paradise Boulevard. The following major car rental companies are available in the Gold Coast(Surfers Paradise): Budget, Avis, Thrifty, Europcar, Hertz. There are also local car rental companies such as Costless Car Rental, Brian's Auto Centre & East Coast Car Rentals which may also offer competitive pricing.
While most car rental companies hire to people 25 years of age and over, some all age car rental companies do hire to younger drivers over 18 years of age with an additional surcharge. To avoid delays, check with your car rental provider beforehand if you are under 25.
Surfside Buslines,  provide the main form of public transport around the Gold Coast and stops are located on most main roads. Buses run 24 hours a day, but are more frequent in the daytime. All the main tourist attractions are serviced by bus. The frequency of services up and down the coast along the beach between Coolangatta and Surfers Paradise is very good at least every half hour. For other routes, and theme parks, it is best to check the timetable in advance.
Surfside Buslines uses the Translink GoCard Ticketless system which allows you to deposit funds into the card and use them up as you travel.
Airport Transfers (shuttles) operate 'door to door' between Coolangatta Airport and accommodation along the coast and are a popular alternative to taxis. They cost approximately $21 per person
Expect to wait up to an hour or more for a taxi on busy nights:Taxi services. A taxi fare between the Gold Coast Airport at Coolangatta and Surfers Paradise costs around $55 and a sedan limousine is about the same. Stretch limousines are another option for groups of more than four with a cost of around $100-$110.
The Gold Coast Oceanway is a 36km pathway for pedestrians and cyclists linking Point Danger to the Gold Coast Seaway, stretching along most of the city coastline. It can be a little crowded with pedestrians in parts.
There are well over 30 beaches stretching a total of 40km. Almost all are patrolled by volunteer and professional lifesavers. The patrolled areas are marked by red and yellow flags. Signs on the beaches will show you the closest patrolled beaches at any particular time of year.
Always swim between the flags. The flags have been lined up with the safest parts of the beach and are patrolled by lifesavers. If you do get into trouble or feel yourself being pulled out of your depth by a "rip", don't try to swim against the water. Swim parallel to the beach and raise your hand to attract the attention of a lifesaver.
Surfers stay outside the flags.
105.7 Radio Metro  has detailed surf reports at 7am, midday and 3pm daily.
That's as far down as you can walk from Surfers. Any further and it's wise to catch a bus or drive.
Referred 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 as the roads wind through the mountains with various lookout points along the way and towering trees lining the roads - it is truly a beautiful drive.
There are many tours that operate in the Hinterland Area. Some are more of a bus tour as opposed to an all inclusive day. Watch the small print and enjoy. 4wd tours company generally offer all inclusive tours to the hinterland area
The Gold Coast region is big on theme parks. During peak season expect them all to be quite busy. Before you go, investigate ticket discounts for combined travel and entry, multi-park and multi-day passes. Members of Australian motoring associations can purchase discounted tickets from them before you travel.
A short list of attractions and admission prices:
Movie World, Sea World and Wet'n'Wild are owned by the same company, so check out one of their combo tickets  if you're planning on hitting two or more of them.
Dreamworld and WhiteWater World offer the same kind of deal .
Be wary of street vendors promising free tickets to theme parks. Generally found along Cavill Mall in Surfers Paradise, they promise free theme park tickets in return for 3-4 hours of your time watching a timeshare presentation followed by high pressure salesmanship to sign up.
Many legitimate vendors sell discounted theme park tickets. Check out the tourist information booths run by Gold Coast Tourism Corporation .
Cavill 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". Watch out for overpriced goods. Local newspapers regularly run stories about "discount warehouses" being taken to court for selling souvenirs at exorbitant prices to Asian tourists on organized tours.
Surfers Paradise has several shopping centres including the Centro Shopping Plaza (with Woolworths supermarket and numerous souvineer shops) and the Chevron Renaissance (with Coles Supermarkets and fashion shops). Although these cater for most tourist needs, better value for everyday items can generally be found outside Surfers Paradise.
Orchard Avenue, Cavill Avenue and Elkhorn Avenue in Surfers Paradise also has a selection of high-end to mid-range shops and boutiques (Prada, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Versace Jeans and Collection, UGG Australia and high-end watchmakers, such a Mont Blanc, Rolex and Chopard). Be careful of counterfeit products in Surfers Paradise, such as faux fur, faux leather gloves and bags and fake Louis Vuitton merchandise. Oddly enough the real Louis Vuitton boutique is just next door to the counterfeit shops on Elkhorn Avenue!
Harbor Town Center in Biggeria Waters has a large selection of high-range to low-end shopping including: Hugo Boss Outlet, Coach Outlet, Oroton Outlet, Polo Ralph Lauren Outlet, Tommy Hilfiger Outlet, Nike Factory Outlet and more mainstream designers such as Witchery, Sportscraft, Lise Ho and many local bands are located here. There is also a small farmers market across the road that has good restaurants and delis.
The 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).
A variety of quick eats is available in the mall off Cavill Avenue. A highlight for vegetarians is Govinda's Veg-O-Rama in the mall. There is a very well priced sushi train one street north of Cavill Ave called Sushi in Paradise (2 Elkhorn Ave).
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 Jupiters Casino that offers lunch for $29.90, dinner for $40 (seafood on fri/sat for $50). The food there is delicious and there are plenty of entrees, mains, roasts and 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.
If there is a local speciality it has to be Mud Crabs, known as muddies, which are great when in season.
Royal Pines Resort in Ashmore has a fine selection of high-end to mid-range restaurants (High-end fine dining at Vediere, fine dining Japanese and Teppanyaki at Arakawa Restaurant, traditional Italian at Trattoria Amici, Mid-range buffet dining at Kalinda, sumptuous breakfast and lunch at Tees Restaurant and the hotel also has a a selection of Bars and lounges). Ashmore is about ten minutes drive from Surfers Paradise and is close to many different suburbs.
Try 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. The fish doesn't actually get much fresher. 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,Kirra Surf Lifesaving Club, 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. Just sign in as a guest.
Twin Towns RSL is the largest RSL in NSW. On the border of Queensland and NSW it offers a variety of dining options, frequent entertainment acts, and a friendly environment all at club prices. It has the sterile renovated feel of many of the newer clubs, but it is possible to get a seat with nice view.
Payphones are common.
Many accommodation operators offer free WiFi access to their guests. Other Wifi hotspots include McDonalds restaurants and coffee shops such as Starbucks and Gloria Jeans.
Always swim between the flags, see Gold Coast Beaches.
Violence often erupts late at night and in the early hours of the morning, particularly from Thursday to Saturday. Areas to be careful to avoid include Cavill Ave and Orchid Ave in Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach Mall in Broadbeach and Griffith St in Coolangatta.