The summer sunshine glistening on your skin. The long days spent lazing by the pool. The turquoise ocean waves crashing gently on the beach shore. The sound of an ibis gawking at you for your last chip. This is the Gold Coast.
Known for its surf, sand and sunshine, the Gold Coast is one of Australia’s top tourist destinations. With the city welcoming over 12 million tourists every year, I travelled to the Gold Coast to see what all the fuss was about.
Interviews with a Sea World employee and a fellow traveller provided me with insight to the inner workings of one of Australia’s most popular travel destinations.
With the region generating over $4 billion towards Australia’s tourism industry every year, it is no wonder it was chosen to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The Gold Coast makes the perfect backdrop for these games. With its beaches and sunny weather, the flood of tourists will be warmly welcomed.
This isn’t the first time this region has hosted the Commonwealth Games. Brisbane also hosted the Games in 1982.
A brief history of the Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is located around 80km from the city of Brisbane. The region spans over 70km of postcard-worthy coastline.
As one of Australia’s most biologically diverse cities, the Gold Coast is home to over 3,000 animal and plant species. You can observe some of these creatures in their natural habitats by visiting one of the many rainforests and nature reserves on offer. The Gold Coast features world-heritage listed rainforests, such as the Gondwana rainforests.
We settled into our hotel, the Mantra Crown Towers, located a short 700 metres from the hustle and bustle of Cavill Avenue, renowned for its shops, restaurants and tourist attractions.
Cavill Avenue is named after Jim Cavill, a hotelier who is said to have ‘given birth’ to the tourist region now known as Surfers Paradise. Surfers Paradise was originally a small town called Elston, before changing its name in 1933.
Along the well-known strip, Cavill Avenue, are a mixture of clothing stores, ice cream parlours, fish and chip shops and beach-themed cafes. I can still remember the smell of freshly fried fish and lightly salted chips around every street corner.
Making our way around the city was so easy thanks to TRANSLink’s ‘G:link’ system. Purchase a ‘go card’ and you have an easy way to see the sights and sounds of the Gold Coast.
Being a regular public transport user in Melbourne, I wasn’t too excited when I discovered we’d be taking trams everywhere. I was pleasantly surprised when my Surfers Paradise tram journey was far better than I had anticipated. The trams were clean and modern. The stops were newly built, each with top-up stations. Melbourne, take note.
A highlight of our trip was attending the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets. With over 120 market stalls, you can buy anything from fresh fruit and jewellery to home wares and fashion.
Open from 4pm to 9pm every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday night, the Beachfront Markets make for a perfect post-dinner stroll to end a busy day. The stallholders are friendly, approachable and always willing to have a chat with market-goers.
Another thing the Gold Coast is renowned for, apart from its sprawling beaches and great surf, is its theme park offering. The city is home to the largest concentration of themed attractions in the southern hemisphere, according to the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The last time I was in the Gold Coast I was 10 years old, so nine years later I wasn’t sure what to expect from the theme parks. Had the rides gotten smaller or had I gotten bigger? Had Batman become less scary or I had just grown out of my childhood fears? I was excited to find out.
Warner Brother’s Movie World, Wet’n’Wild, Sea World, Dream World, Paradise Country and White Water World are some of the theme parks on offer. Catering to patrons big or small, local or international, young or old, the theme parks are an excellent way to spend a day out. Family-friendly fun with good entertainment.
“My favourite theme park was definitely Wet’n’Wild,” said Katherine Vayenas, theme park enthusiast and my trusty travel companion.
“We went on a really sunny day, so if we got too hot walking around we just went for a swim. The pools are amazing at Wet’n’Wild. The wave pool was great because every 30 minutes we’d run in to catch the waves then get out and tan,” said Ms Vayenas.
“I’d go back to the Gold Coast in a heartbeat. I had an amazing time.”
Sea World employee, Belinda Galluipe, said she loves working at the theme park as it allows her to spend time with what she loves most every time she goes to work.
“I love polar bears and dolphins. They’re my two favourite animals. I think it’s so cool that I wake up every morning and get to spend my time with these incredible creatures,” said Ms Galluipe.
“It gets really busy here during school holidays. Lines are out-the-door sometimes. It’s awesome that children are showing interest in dolphins and polar bears and penguins and all the other cute creatures we have at Sea World.”
“The theme parks are a great day out. I remember coming here when I was younger and now I work here, and I love my job.”
When packing for my trip, I was convinced that when we arrived in Queensland we would be met with an unbearably hot, humid and sticky climate. The weather, however, turned out to be just right. Warm weather during the day and slightly cooler at night. Yet still warm enough to dip your feet in the hotel pool.
In the Gold Coast, humidity levels rarely drop below 65%, sometimes reaching as high as 75% in Summer. The cool sea breezes help to offset the humidity, so make sure you book a hotel close to the beach. Also, make sure your room is fitted with air conditioning.
Overall, a wonderful trip
I have been travelling a lot recently and I’ve come to realise that I’m not the best flyer, as I get fidgety. When I’m like this, time just doesn’t pass. I read somewhere that listening to podcasts can help pass time. You can lose yourself in someone else’s conversation and, before you know, it is time for landing.
Casefile is the podcast that I found myself listening to on the flight. A well-spoken, written and presented podcast that is interesting, especially if you’re into crime stories like I am. Try listening to this podcast on your next flight and you’ll see that time really does pass faster.
The Gold Coast is a wonderful holiday destination. It appeals to all sorts of travellers. Including families looking for some friendly fun, teenagers after a great night life or surfers just out for a good wave.
The Gold Coast is a great option for those not wanting to break the budget or don’t enjoy travelling too far. The wide range of attractions available makes for a great getaway. The Gold Coast gets a big tick of approval from me.
Now onto the next adventure…