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Gold Coast

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Revision as of 04:31, 5 August 2013 by (talk) (By car: car hire update)

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Gold Coast

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This article is about a city in Queensland, Australia. There is also a Florida Gold Coast. For the African country known as the Gold Coast in colonial times, see Ghana.

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 [2] 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.

Looking over the Gold Coast



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)

  • Paradise Point, Hollywell, Runaway Bay and Labrador - northern suburbs, largely residential.
  • Southport - The commercial centre with shops, hospitals, business, industry and government offices.
  • Main Beach - An upmarket suburb with high-rises and resorts.
  • Surfers Paradise - The most commercialised tourist suburb, with the highest concentration of accommodation and attractions.
  • Broadbeach - The second busiest tourist suburb and quieter than Surfers Paradise. It has a casino, 2 shopping complexes and many restaurants and highrises.
  • Mermaid Beach and Miami - Largely low-rise residential suburbs with motels and restaurants along the highway.
  • Burleigh Heads - Numerous highrise apartment buildings and a small commercial area. The beaches are popular with surfers and families.
  • Palm Beach - Largely residential area.
  • Currumbin, Tugun and Bilinga - Largely residential area dotted with apartments, popular with families and locals. Convenient to the airport and motorway.
  • Kirra, Coolangatta and Tweed Heads - The southern end has several high-rise apartments with a small, but popular, shopping and entertainment area.


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.

Get in

By plane

  • The Gold Coast Airport (IATA: OOL) [3], also known as Coolangatta Airport, is in Coolangatta to the south. It may be unique in the world in that, because it straddles the NSW and Queensland borders, you land in one state and arrive in another.

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.

Gold Coast Tourist Shuttle provides transportation from Gold Coast Airport to hotels & theme parks throughout the Gold Coast. Customer service desks are in the international & domestic terminals.

  • A viable alternative, especially if hiring a car, is to fly into Brisbane Airport (IATA: BNE). You can catch a direct train from the airport (105 minutes) to Nerang 8km to the west of Surfers Paradise, and connect with the local buses. Otherwise it is a 70 minute drive down the Pacific and Gold Coast Highways.

By train

Queensland Rail runs an electric CityTrain service [4] 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 [5] 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.

Get around

By car

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 on the Gold Coast: Redspot Sixt, Hertz, Budget, Avis, Thrifty, Europcar. There are also local car rental companies such as Cut Price Car Rentals, Costless Car Rental, Brian's Auto Centre & East Coast Car Rentals which may also offer competitive pricing yet it would be better to go with the brands providing car hire service worldwide.

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.

By bus

Surfside Buslines, [6] 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

By taxi

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.

By bike

The Gold Coast Oceanway [7]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.



Surfers Paradise Beach
Coolangatta SLSC Deck

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 [8] has detailed surf reports at 7am, midday and 3pm daily.

  • Surfers Paradise has a long stretch of beach, with flags and patrols ever few hundred metres along the beach. You can be sure to find a place to swim, but the beach right opposite Cavill Ave is generally very busy and packed with tourists. Just walk north or south along the beach to find a (slightly) less crowded alternative.
  • Broadbeach is about 3km (40 minutes walk, 5 minute drive) south of Surfers Paradise and usually has the same surf conditions as Surfers Paradise. The upside, however, is that it's not that far away and nowhere near as busy as Surfers. Just in from the beach is Kurrawa Park, a shopping centre full of cafes, restaurants, and Jupiters Casino. Be well warned that Broadbeach has the most dangerous rips to be found along the coast on any given day, so don't swim outside the flags, don't swim drunk and don't swim at night!
  • North Burleigh is a further 4km down from Broadbeach (over a small hill). It's generally less popular than its bigger brother, Burleigh Heads, but a good place to go if there are winds blowing from the north, as the hill provides a bit of protection. Northerly winds in the afternoon can bring in "stingers", an unpleasant jellyfish, so swimming is not advised.
  • Burleigh Heads is only 2km south of North Burleigh and a nice beach with a large park and a hill that is good for picnics. There are cafes surrounding the beach and the hill cover means that this beach is usually pretty nice when the winds are blowing from the south (when Surfers and other beaches will be exposed and horrible).

That's as far down as you can walk from Surfers. Any further and it's wise to catch a bus or drive.

  • Tallebudgeera Creek is a popular swimming lagoon with families, fantastic for people who don't feel comfortable in the surf but still want to take a dip.
  • Currumbin is a fantastic lagoon-cross-beach, if you can get there it's well worth a trip. Mostly inhabited by locals learning to surf, easiest waves on the coast.
  • Kirra is another famous surfing spot.
  • Greenmount Beach in Coolangatta offers the most spectacular scenery and views up the coast, and is also a fantastic place for a picnic.
  • Rainbow Bay is just on the other side of Greenmount
  • The world renown Snapper Rocks is right next to Rainbow Bay and is the home of the Quiksilver Pro [9].


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.

  • Tamborine Mountain - a great cottage industry town with fantastic restaurants, fudge shops, and wineries - many of which offer free samples!
  • Springbrook
  • Numinbah Valley (including Natural Bridge/Arch)
  • Currumbin Valley

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:

  • Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary: koalas, kangaroos, birds, snakes, crocodiles. Admission $31 to $99.
  • Sea World: sharks, dolphins, penguins, polar bears. Admission $50 to $80.
  • Warner Bros Movie World: Admission $50 to $80.
  • Dreamworld: Amusement park, animals. Admission $50 to $80.
  • WhiteWater World: Water park with pools, slides. Admission $30 to $50.
  • Australian Outback Spectacular: horses and unique Australian lifestyle (dinner provided). Admission $55 to $110. Located right next to Movie world.
  • Wet 'n' Wild: Water park with pools, slides, rides. Admission $35 to $60.
  • Tropical Fruit World: Fruit plantation orchard, with tour, shows, tasting. Admission Adults $44, Children $25 (ages 4-16), Concession $35, Family Pass $110 (2A+2C) or $120 (2A+3C).
  • Go to the top of the Q1 building for stunning views of the entire city, lines of beaches and the Hinterland.
  • Watch one of Gold Coast's local professional sports teams: These include the Titans (NRL) with games played in Robina, and the Gold Coast Suns (AFL)

Movie World, Sea World and Wet'n'Wild are owned by the same company, so check out one of their combo tickets [10] if you're planning on hitting two or more of them.

Dreamworld and WhiteWater World offer the same kind of deal [11].

Be wary

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 [12].


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.

Robina Town Centre is a modern shopping mall with shops and eateries to suit everyone.


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.

  • Deja View Restaurant (Outrigger Surfers Paradise), Level 2, View Avenue, Surfers Paradise (Level 2 of the Outrigger Hotel), +61755791087, [1]. 0630 - 2130. Deja View Restaurant located on level 2 inside the Outrigger Hotel offers something for everyone. With a buffet Breakfast every day from 6:30 - 10:00am for $25 per adult including everything you could imagine. Lunch has all the classics you can find anywhere in Australia from club sandwiches to chicken schnitzel. And for dinner they offer a full seafood buffet with fresh Prawns, Oysters, Crabs and Mussels as well as a huge hot food selection with chicken and beef etc. Also Selections of Salads, Pizzas, Cheese, and a huge dessert buffet. They also have a set menu each night which has a choice of 2 or 3 courses from their Australian/Vietnamese dishes 25 - 55. (27.9978,153.4293)


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.


  • Backpacker hostels are mostly located in Surfers Paradise, Southport, Main Beach and Coolangatta with dorm beds starting at around $20 a night.
  • Motels are located all along the Gold Coast Hwy. Most can be found in Labrador, Mermaid Beach, Miami, Palm Beach and Tweed Heads. Single rooms are $60 to $80, while doubles rooms are $70 to $90 but prices increase during peak summer. Prices are lower and availability is better, the further they are away from Surfers Paradise.
  • Camping and Caravan grounds are dotted about the Gold Coast, although many have closed to make way for other development. The largest operator is Gold Coast Tourist Parks[13], a business arm of the Gold Coast City Council. It has 7 parks: Main Beach, Tallebudgera Creek, Burleigh Heads, Kirra Beach, Broadwater, Jacobs Well, Ocean Beach (Miami). Other caravan parks can be found in Miami, Carrara, Labrador, Nerang and Mudgeeraba. Accommodation options include caravan and camping sites, luxury cabins and group lodgings. Facilities may include swimming pools, play equipment and barbecue areas.
  • Apartment accommodation in high- and low-rise buildings. A two-bedroom apartment in Surfers Paradise will cost around $150 per night in the off-season, and upwards of $300 a night in peak summer. Many have a minimum stay of 3 or 5 nights and may allow only one Saturday night per seven days (also one Tuesday). Reception hours are limited and a bond may be required in some cases. Inside amenities typically include kitchen, washer and dryer, and separate bedrooms. Outside amenities may include swimming pool, gym and other resort facilities.
  • Hotels, include chains such as the Mariott, Crowne Plaza. Hotels are concentrated in Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach.


Payphones are common.

Wireless Internet

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.

Stay safe


Always swim between the flags, see Gold Coast Beaches.

Alcohol-fuelled violence

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.

Get out

  • Brisbane, the state capital, is about 1 hour North.
  • The Sunshine Coast lies north of Brisbane.
  • Byron Bay is only an hour's drive south
  • Lamington National Park [14] is half an hour's drive west
  • The Tweed [15] is just south of the Gold Coast
  • Spend a day or longer in the hinterland - visit Springbrook Falls, Mt Tamborine, Natural Arch (see glow worms at night).

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

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