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Save a koala, wear a bikini

Finley Kelly will join the Gold Coast Beach Parade (Photo by John Pryke for Gold Coast Beach Parade)
Finley Kelly will join the Gold Coast Beach Parade (Photo by John Pryke for Gold Coast Beach Parade)

We love our outdoor events here on the Gold Coast. And it’s little wonder when we have great year-round weather along with pristine beaches and lush hinterland. Being outside and being active is what we live for, right?

This last year has been ‘interesting’ to say the least, and one such event that aims to shirk off those blues is the GemLife Gold Coast Beach Parade Record Attempt. The GemLife Gold Coast Beach Parade – is a new world record attempt for the greatest number of people (men, women and children) wearing the cutest of cute koala ear visors in a beach parade!

The event aims to shine a spotlight on the Gold Coast’s community spirit while also supporting a charity that’s close to all of our hearts – Currumbin Wildlife Hospital and saving our city’s koalas. The funds raised will support vital work treating, rehabilitating and releasing sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife.

The Hospital has grown to be one of the busiest wildlife hospitals globally, admitting up to 14,000 animals a year. The skilled and experienced veterinary team, supported by volunteers, prides itself in providing the highest level of veterinary care, but they need our help to continue doing what they do.

Gold Coast Beach Parade (image supplied)

This is why community fundraising events and initiatives like the GemLife Gold Coast Beach Parade are so crucial to their operations!

The event is also a celebration of our state’s healthy lifestyle, focusing on our famous beaches and beach culture. The whole of our community will be walking as one, proud to promote our home city, the Gold Coast.

Want to be part of a world record for a good cause? Read on…

How it will work: The event will be measured by the number of participants wearing a visor (with koala ears) in beachwear who complete the parade route along Burleigh Beach.

The parade will begin on the beach in front of Justins Park, just north of the Mowbray Park SLSC. Participants will walk down the beach in single file to North Burleigh SLSC, turning at the checkpoint and returning down along the beachfront to Burleigh again. Each person will then be counted as they enter the main stage area. The parade route is 3km in total and promises to be a fun morning all round.

Bronte the Koala from Currumbin Wildlife Hospital (image supplied)
Bronte the Koala from Currumbin Wildlife Hospital (image supplied)

There is no designated fee to enter, but a nominated donation of $25 per person for an individual entry, $80 donation for a family (up to 4) and $200 donation for a company/sporting club/school (up to 10) on registration goes directly to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.

A fun-filled event that all the family can get behind supporting a great local cause and putting you in the running to be part of a world record, no less!

So what are you waiting for? Register here now!

When: Sunday, May 16 2021
Where: Burleigh Heads Beach

Words by Alex Mitcheson.

Lucy Callister will join the Gold Coast Beach Parade (Photo by John Pryke for Gold Coast Beach Parade)
Lucy Callister will join the Gold Coast Beach Parade (Photo by John Pryke for Gold Coast Beach Parade)

Candice Dixon

Candice Dixon for the Gold Coast Beach Parade - Burleigh Beach (Photo by John Pryke for Gold Coast Beach Parade)

Candice Dixon is the local Gold Coast lass who beamed onto our screen across Australia every Saturday morning via Saturday Disney. From America’s most famous Mouse to Australia’s most famous marsupial, Candice now spends her time educating the public about the fantastic work completed every day at one of the world’s busiest animal hospitals, Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. We caught up with Candice to hear about how we can help our beautiful wildlife and where you’ll find her outside of her busy schedule.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I was born and raised on the Gold Coast and relocated to Sydney when I was 21 to start hosting a show called Saturday Disney for Channel 7 which was a mix between entertainment reporting, lifestyle/travel presenting and acting. I commuted home once a week because I missed my family and friends on the Gold Coast so much!

What do you love most about living here?
The ocean. I travelled the world looking for something that would come close to the paradise I grew up with and I never found anything quite as special as our beaches.

Tell us about what you do at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary?
I’m so honoured to be the Social Media & Content Producer for Currumbin Wildlife Hospital which is located on the grounds of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. I always dreamed of giving a voice to animals and even though I tried to focus on animal stories at Channel 7, I never came close to this kind of animal protection, it’s a whole other level!

What are some of the best things about your job?
The fact that I have been able to actually save wildlife, it hasn’t been a pie in the sky idea, I have seen results immediately which is more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. It’s a lot easier than I thought to make a difference, we just need to be educated. For example, it only costs $100 to cover the cost of milk formula needed to hand raise an orphaned possum or $400 to repair a turtle’s broken shell. I’ve always had a calling to help koalas but I never realised the extent of that calling until I started at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. I never quite understood the difficulties they’re facing in the wild and seeing it first-hand every day has been very difficult. I was shocked to realise that so many koalas in the wild were dying from chlamydia. More than half of the patients admitted into Currumbin Wildlife Hospital were suffering from this horrible disease, even the infant koala joeys! The good news is that koala patients at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital are now being vaccinated against chlamydia so we are moving in the right direction.

On a lighter note, I have taken so many incredible people through the doors of Currumbin Wildlife Hospital including Iggy Azalea; Mick Fanning; Isabel Lucas; Emmy Rossum; Elsa Pataky and the Hemsworths’ extended family to name a few! Global awareness is key and people with high profiles have been able to make an immediate difference to Australian wildlife by empowering their audiences to support the cause.

Tell us about the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital…
Currumbin Wildlife Hospital opened 31 years ago and has grown to be one of the busiest wildlife hospitals in the world. It admits over 12,000 animals a year, including almost 600 koalas. The Currumbin Wildlife Hospital’s mission is to treat, rehabilitate and release sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife and is a service that is provided free of charge to the community. There have been over 125,000 admissions in the hospital over the last 20 years and this figure continues to rise. The Currumbin Wildlife Hospital relies on community donations to continue its vital work. You can follow the patient stories online. Our two most popular channels are Instagram: @currumbinwildlifehospital & Facebook: @currumbinwildlifehospitalfoundation.

You’re also a presenter on Channel 7’s Sydney Weekender, talk to us about what that entails?
After six years hosting for Saturday Disney, I was able to move next door into the Sydney Weekender office. The major change was that we were able to have a cocktail on TV! I was so excited to be working with a familiar crew and exploring parts of NSW I never even knew existed. My Mum is from Sydney so I absolutely love travelling around Sydney and learning about my family history.

What have been some of the highlights of that role?
I love presenting for Sydney Weekender because each story feels like a holiday! Some highlights have included: swimming with Grey Nurse Sharks, visiting animal shelters and sailing around Sydney Harbour. The Eating Out segments are very indulgent, and you end up eating your way through nearly 10 plates by the end of the shoot. Even when the cameras stop, I make sure I test every last plate… it’s a tough segment but someone has to do it!

How can Gold Coasters support the work of the wildlife hospital?
The Currumbin Wildlife Hospital can only keep its doors open thanks to the generosity of its supporters and being chosen as the charity of choice for major events. I’m so thrilled to be working on the upcoming major event: Gold Coast Beach Parade. It’s taking place at Burleigh Heads on Valentine’s Day (14th February 2021). Our aim is to set the World Record for the world’s biggest beach parade. It’s a community event for people of all ages and each entry will benefit Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.

It’s such an exciting event because it will draw the world’s attention to Queensland’s healthy beach lifestyle and culture while raising awareness for our precious koalas and wildlife. Last time the Gold Coast staged this event in 2011, it was voted to have the best beaches in the world by Expedia. People can start registering their interest now at goldcoastbeachparade.com.au. See you there!!

Tell us your favourites on the Coast:
Restaurant for dinner: I love Rosella’s in Burleigh because of the relaxed social vibe. I go there a lot with my friends and we all order the ‘Blinky Bill’ cocktail not only because it’s delicious but because $2 from every sale goes to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. I also love Greenhouse Canteen, they have the most generous serving sizes and you always walk away feeling amazing from eating all the plants.
Cafe for breakfast:  I love any vegetarian cafes and I always like to change it up. I love The Milkman’s Daughter and often dream about their Lemon Ricotta (vegan) Pancakes. I also can’t wait to go to Tarte for their all-day breakfast. Breakfast is by far my favourite meal and their menu is top-notch!
Coffee spot: I love matcha lattes and usually get takeaway so I can sit on the beach. Niche & Co in Tugun has the best matcha latte and I always have to order large because I cannot get enough of it!
How does your weekend usually look: Ocean swimming, health food stores and yoga are top of my priority list for the weekend. I love driving along the coastline listening to music and I usually stop off at Kurrawa Beach as my Dad runs the beach volleyball there. After getting enough sun and fresh air, I’ll meet up with my best friend who lives next to Burleigh Pavilion. We’ll head there for sunset and to eat guacamole. Tropical living is the way to go!!

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

6 of the best beaches you can visit on the Gold Coast

Palm Beach from Burleigh Lookout (Image: © 2018 Inside Gold Coast)
Palm Beach from Burleigh Lookout (Image: © 2018 Inside Gold Coast)

Well now, aren’t we the lucky ones for being fantastically spoilt with endless glorious beaches here on our golden coast. Kilometre after kilometre of pristine sand awaits you around every outcrop, headland, and creek; creating the rather envious — and ever-present — predicament of what beach you might lay your towel on.

It’s the finer details, the nuances if you will, which separate the good from the great. By that we mean not just the beach itself — but the amazing places you can grab something to eat/drink from nearby! As official beach experts, we take great pleasure in outlining the finest patches of shoreline on the Gold Coast for your sun-kissed reading pleasure.

Main Beach
For all readers living north of Surfers Paradise, Main Beach is a huge drawcard when it comes to getting yourself some beach time. And there is little reason why you wouldn’t find yourself here on a perfect day with your favourite book and sunblock. This quiet and sprawling section of sand is backed by some of the Coast’s most luxurious resorts before finally coming to an end at The Spit, which offers you peeks of South Stradbroke Island. Often empty and within striking distance of most northern suburbs, this is a stellar choice for spending an hour or three.

Eat: The Seafood buffet at the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort is a must-try either for lunch or dinner. Open to outside guests of the resort and serving the freshest seafood straight from the trawlers.
Do: Peruse the shops at Marina Mirage, then walk to Fisherman’s Wharf (affectionately known as Fisho’s) for a sunset drink overlooking the magificent Broadwater filled with yachts in the Marina. If you’re out late, take a moonlit walk along the beach after dinner to finish off a perfect evening.

Surfers Paradise at the steps down to the beach at dawn (Image: © 2020 Destination Gold Coast)
Surfers Paradise at the steps down to the beach at dawn (Image: © 2020 Destination Gold Coast)

Surfers Paradise
The one and only. One of the main reasons why tourism exploded here in the latter part of the last century was indeed Surfers Paradise. A suburb that is a lot of things to a lot of people, but almost certainly the most recognisable part of our coastline for visitors. Although the busy end of town, you will always find a piece of the beach to yourself — finding a car park however is a different affair altogether (catch the tram)! The pedestrianised pathway along the beachfront is the perfect opportunity to pull out your skateboard or dust off your roller skates/blades and experience the beach, in a slightly different way, whilst being active. Regardless of the crowds, if the weather is playing ball, the beach here is one of our best.

Eat: There’s a myriad of options here, however, we suggest you head to Mos Burger (a stones-throw from the beach) to tuck into some Japanese-inspired burger goodness.
Do: We all know shopping is a type of therapy and therefore good for you. Once you’ve had your share of sun, sea, and sand why not shower off and head to Paradise Centre or Soul Boardwalk – you’ll find some of the Coast’s best retailers and sweet ice-cream shops perfect for a hot day.

Broadbeach beach looking towards Surfers Paradise

Broadbeach
Further down you’ll find Broadbeach, which can be defined as being a slightly more relaxed and slower version of the vibrant Surfers Paradise stretch. For a morning walk with some incredible sunrise light, this is where you need to be at. When you’ve had enough of getting sand in all of your small places — there’s a spattering of green areas and parks with some great BBQ facilities and seating areas. Still, with its fair share of extravagant looking high rises the shadows begin to creep across the beach (depending on the time of year) around the 3pm mark. By this time, it could very well be time to grab a cocktail anyway…

Eat: A Gold Coast institution, Elk Espresso is the answer to all of your breakfast and lunch dreams. And being positioned on the corner of Oasis Shopping Centre and merely metres from the beach is nothing short of perfection in our eyes.
Do: Feeling like the midday sun is getting to you? Head inside the Oasis and you’ll be met with a tonne of shopping options, making it a tough call to go back to the beach.

Burleigh Pavilion (Image: Amanda Hibbard)

Burleigh
The jewel in the crown? Quite possibly, and for good reason. Burleigh has, we think, exceeded all expectations of what a modern Gold Coast suburb should be. With its admixture of surfy/bohemian/laid back vibes and a plethora of shops and eating options, you can easily spend a whole day here and want for nothing. Lush greenery meets golden shoreline as the iconic point and National Park frame the beach at the southern end before it winds a parallel line with the Pacific Ocean towards Miami Hill in the north. Take the day off, grab your sunscreen and put your phone on silent, because this part of our coast is truly a special one.

Eat: With the same eye-watering view, Rick Shores, The Burleigh Pavilion and The Tropic are the ideal places to grab something to eat, and or drink, and remember how lucky you are to be here.
Do: There’s no arguing that the beach here is fantastic. Do as the locals do and head up Burleigh Hill as the sun begins to set and you get to savour those last parts of sunlight as it cascades towards the horizon.

Tallebudgera Creek (Image: © 2019 Destination Gold Coast)
Tallebudgera Creek (Image: © 2019 Destination Gold Coast)

Tallebudgera Creek
Controversial inclusion or not, being not technically a beach in the sense it isn’t backed by the ocean, Tallebudgera Creek beach is still one of the best places you can get some sun on your skin whilst submerging yourself in pristine water. Being a creek with shallow sand bars, the way the sunlight enters and refracts around the water always provides you with so many different variations of the colour blue! The real magic about this location is the fact you have two different sides of the creek to explore; both have their advantages for when the sun, and wind, start to move throughout the day.

Eat: Nearby Custard Canteen is the creation of husband-wife duo Ben & Ursula Watts of Bam Bam Bakehouse and Cubby Bakehouse fame. Need we say more?
Do: Take a wander down into nearby Palm Beach and treat yourself to some rooftop action either at Frida Sol or Las Palmas.

The Undercurrent's Coolangatta shirt (Image: © 2018 The Undercurrent)
The Undercurrent's Coolangatta shirt (Image: © 2018 The Undercurrent)

Coolangatta
Having some of the squeakiest and whitest sand along our 70km coastline, Coolangatta Beach was a dead fire inclusion on this list. Unbeknown to some people, the north-facing aspect of this beach, provides some great protection from the southerly winds – meaning no unexpected blasts of sand to the face. Much like Burleigh Headland, Greenmount adds a rustic green backdrop to the beach and acts as a great lookout so you can appreciate the nearby surfing going down at Rainbow Bay. If surfing isn’t your thing then you may well be lucky enough to catch glimpses of dolphins which are known to gracefully glide their way past on any given day.

Eat: Amble your way from the beach to Little Cooly just inside The Strand, with some much-loved pasta and pizza and their signature Sip Sessions from 3pm daily. It’d be rude not to!
Do: Take a stroll to nearby Kirra, walk to the top of the hill to truly enjoy the views of the Gold Coast from a southern perspective. Once you’ve done that, and burned enough calories, it’s time to head to Ottimo for some of the best handmade gelato this side of Italy.

Words by Alex Mitcheson.

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