Australia's Gold Coast Shines

Queensland area draws tourists to beaches, theme parks and fine resorts

By: Roger Allnutt

COOLANGATTA, Queensland, Australia A popular tourist playground, known as the Gold Coast, is famous for its beaches, world standard resorts, theme parks and sporting facilities. Situated in the southeast corner of Queensland, the Gold Coast stretches 20 miles from Southport to Coolangatta, close to the New South Wales border.

Initially, it was the beaches of the Gold Coast that were the major attraction there are over 30 patrolled beaches, about 300 days of sunshine a year and an average temperature of 75 degrees but in recent years the region has proved to be a draw for many Australians relocating to this rapidly developing area. Surfers Paradise, the central point of the Gold Coast, is 45 miles south of Brisbane.

In the last decade or so the area has seen the development of a number of excellent resorts, including Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove, Couran Cove Resort on South Stradbroke Island and Royal Pines Resort, to complement the Marriott Surfers Paradise Hotel, Sheraton Mirage, Hotel Conrad and Palazzo Versace.

The hotels and resorts have excellent restaurants but there is plenty of choice all along the Gold Coast. Favorites include Café Romas at Southport Marina, Mango’s on the Nerang River near Surfers Paradise and Omeros Bros. Seafood Restaurant at Surfers.

Shoppers are well catered to with a number of large shopping plazas and malls; Pacific Fair at Broadbeach is Queensland’s largest with over 250 shops, landscaped grounds, movie theaters, children’s park and a village green.

Gamblers also appreciate the casinos on the Gold Coast. Jupiters Casino is located inside Hotel Conrad, which is aligned with the Hilton chain. The casino has about 100 gaming tables and a similar number of gaming machines, while the high rollers are catered to at Club Conrad. Andiamo’s is a popular restaurant at the hotel.

Apart from fantastic beaches and great surfing, the most popular sporting activity takes place on the greens. There are more than 40 championship and resort courses with groomed greens and outstanding layouts usually surrounded by natural wildlife, flora and fauna. Well-known courses include Hope Island, Palm Meadows and The Palms Sanctuary Cove.

My favorite is the challenging course in a beautiful setting at Royal Pines Resort, home to the Australian Ladies Masters Championship. The Royal Pines Resort has a wonderfully friendly atmosphere, great restaurants, numerous packages and a spa.

For the young at heart, the theme parks at the Gold Coast are a major draw. Dreamworld offers a number of exhilarating rides including the Tower of Terror and the gravity driven roller coaster Cyclone. Plus, visitors can watch the Bengal Tigers go through their paces it’s even possible to have breakfast with them.

Other parks attracting large crowds are Warner Bros. Movie World (the Police Academy stunt show is a don’t-miss) and Wet ‘n’ Wild Water Park. At Southport Seaworld, Australia’s largest marine park you can swim with the dolphins as well as watch whales, sea lions and water-skiing displays.

Those who want to catch up with some native Australian fauna, including koalas, kangaroos, dingoes, platypuses, crocodiles and many exotic birds, visit David Fleary’s Wildlife Park at Burleigh Heads or the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary at Currumbin.

The hinterlands of the Gold Coast offer some memorable drives and a complete change of scenery from the coast.

Tambourine National Park and Springbrook National Park are only a short distance from Surfers Paradise while the fabulous Lamington National Park with its mix of subtropical rainforest, temperate rain forest and cool temperate rain forest is a wonderland to explore and includes some excellent walking trails. O’Reilly’s Rainforest Guesthouse or Binna Burra Mountain Lodge are the places to stay.