Go hard or go home, Gold Coasters.
Go hard or go home, Gold Coasters.
There has always been a section of the populous that actively enjoys being scared out of their wits. We’re talking about the ones who watch scary movies in the dark and will stand as close as possible to the edge of a terribly high drop — all in the name of a better view, right? Or maybe you’re more the person who gets their thrills by turning the toaster up in the morning and pushing the limits of how much to toast your sourdough before it burns.
Whether you are one of these people or not, it’s fair to say we all like to have our hearts rush, just in varying degrees, it seems!
So, when the only means to make your day is to have an extreme injection of adrenaline, you’ll be pleased to learn we have some adrenaline-pumping activates right here at home. No travel required. Read on to learn where you can make your heart skip a beat — all you thrill-seekers out there!
For obvious reasons, this one is right up there when it comes to adrenaline rushes. Throw yourself out of a perfectly good plane and hurtle through the sky reaching 200 km/h in just 7 seconds — sure, why not, sounds like fun. The gang at Gold Coast Skydive have you covered with skydives that will have you soaring through the sky above the Pacific Ocean before coming to a soft landing on the prettiest patch of sand around: Kirra Beach, no less. The instructors are seasoned professionals, but if you’ve never done this before, and you find yourself at the door about to jump, do not underestimate what’s about to happen!
Where: Gold Coast Skydive, 18 Coyne Street, Coolangatta
Usually, extreme activities, such as bungee jumping and skydiving, take place in wide-open spaces well away from crowds and onlookers. Not with Sling Shot. This jolt of excitement is sure to get even the hardiest of action seekers hearts’ racing. Found just off the beach in Surfers Paradise, this attraction has one sole purpose: to propel its participants skywards at alarming speed! How does accelerating to 160 km/h and reaching over 80 metres high whilst experiencing 6G of atmospheric pressure sound? We’d recommend this one before dinner, folks.
Where: 6 Palm Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Did you know that southeast Queensland is a mecca for hang gliding and parasailing? Why not incorporate glorious mountain vistas into having a death-defying experience at the same time? There’s no better way to take in the hinterland from high up above with another qualified human strapped to your back. Launch sites include the picturesque Beechmont and high above the valley floor, Mt Tamborine. Strap in with SE QLD Hang Gliding and experience the actual feeling of flying — sans jet engine!
Where: 92/118 Tamborine Mountain Road, North Tamborine
Car racing was definitely our career in a former life for reasons we don’t need to discuss here. The relevance though, is that driving a car around a track at super-fast speeds is a good time and the ultimate adrenaline rush. Shrink that down into a mini version complete with helmets and the possibility of beating your friends and you’ve got yourself an adrenaline rush. Test your racing skills at one of these sweet spots (we’ve got discounts too!): Kingston Park Raceway or Slideways Go Karting
You may be reasonably chilled stepping into the elevator and ascending a staggering 77 levels to the Observation Deck. But no friends, that is not the adrenaline rush part just yet. Once on top of the Q1 — Australia’s tallest building — above the golden sand of Surfers Paradise, you’ll be 270 metres up in the clouds for 90 minutes, just strolling around gazing at 360-degree views of the Gold Coast at your leisure. It’s beautiful and terrifying and an absolute Gold Coast must-do for visitors and locals alike.
Where: SkyPoint Observation Deck, 9 Hamilton Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Jet Ski Safaris
Skimming across pristine water at high speed whilst experiencing a side of the northern Gold Coast you’re unlikely to have seen is what you can expect from Gold Coast Jet Ski Safaris. And the best part? You get to drive the ski, and there’s no need for experience or a license. Take a ski to yourself or pair up with somebody you trust, as the high-speed jinks offered range from a quick 30-minute blast to a grander 2.5 hr exploration of South Stradbroke and nearby mangroves — with an obligatory stop off at a beachside bar of course!
Where: 7A 60-70 SeaWorld Drive, Main Beach
Words by Alex Mitcheson.
Feels like it’s been five minutes since the kids were on holidays and low and behold, the schools are letting them loose again. Sigh.
Keeping them occupied— and you sane — will need some carefully considered tact. But let’s face facts here: you are on the Gold Coast. That means beaches, shopping and theme parks on your doorstep that other people would vacation here for. Nevertheless, what happens when the kids are keen for something a bit more diverse to pass the time?
Never fear, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of some of our favourite things to do on the Gold Coast when school is out.
Level Up Arcade
The Arcade is the 80s and 90s incarnate. Found on the first floor of the Oasis Shopping Centre in Broadbeach, Level Up features 62 of the best games from this era. With Lane Master Bowling, pool table, 3D pong, limited edition pinballs, a classic arcade with 40 of your old school games, LA Lakers hoops, big buck hunter, Jurassic Park, down the clown, ring toss and plenty more. Worn out kids by the end of the day are guaranteed.
Where: The Oasis Shopping Centre, 75 Surf Parade, Broadbeach
With 60 minutes on the clock, you and the family are left in a mysterious room to solve puzzles, crack riddles, open locks and escape the madness. It’s a fast-paced hour where you will either come out with big old smiles on your faces — or in need of a big old glass of wine. It’s such a fun time either way though.
Where: 3177 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
Ripley’s Believe it or Not
Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium is Surfers Paradise’s most unusual and far-fetched attraction. Found in Soul Boardwalk, Ripley’s offers sixteen individually themed galleries of unbelievable artifacts and interactive exhibits where you will come face to face with remarkable relics and rare treasures from around the world. Experience the weird and unbelievable, see shrunken heads, survive a walk through the spinning vortex tunnel, unusual artwork, and things that make you go eww. Get a discount here!
Where: Soul Boardwalk, Cavill Mall, Surfers Paradise
Found at the edge of Currumbin Creek, Currumbin Boatshed Bait and Tackle offers plenty of choices to ensure you and the kids get to have the best possible time on the water. They’ve got fishing gear, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, surfboards and much more. All are available for purchase or they also have hire options for kayaks, SUPs and fishing gear. Ever seen somebody on a SUP and thought you’d like to give it a go? Well, here’s your chance folks, as they offer regular SUP lessons for beginners!
Where: 1/2-4 Thrower Drive, Currumbin
It’s the perfect place for big and small kids alike. Spend some time choosing from over 1,000 different sweet treats, American brands like Hershey’s, Reese’s, Trolli, Twizzler and Cheeto’s, to your local favourites like Allen’s and Nestle. There’s also a wide variety of liquorice, rock candy and pick and mix sweets to choose from. From gobsmackers to chocolate fudge, you’re sure to find something to satiate your taste buds.
Where: Shop 1/3179 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
What child doesn’t love a bit of mini-golf? None, as far as we know. Luckily, the Gold Coast is home to a collection of enjoyable putt-putt spots, and they are dotted throughout the city — so you could even make a day of it and visit several of them — should that be your kind of thing! Our favourites are King Tutts and Mini Golf in Surfers Paradise and Putt Putt Mermaid Beach.
Where: Various locations
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a nature-based institution that’s been delighting families for the last 70 years. Check all your favourite Aussie animals, watch the bird show Wild Skies or wander through Lost Valley and gaze at some of the magical creatures that existed when Australia was part of the ancient supercontinent Gondwana. If you haven’t been before or it’s been a while, it’s about time you went and spent a fun day in Currumbin with some furry and feathered friends.
Where: 28 Tomewin Street, Currumbin
It’s an incredible journey through a world of illusion at Infinity. Think futuristic, maze-like world of wonder with unique rooms and sensory overloads that will have you laughing, jumping, and feeling as though you’re in a dream. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Get an exclusive discount here!
Where: Chevron Renaissance Shopping Centre, G31/3240 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
It goes without saying the Coast’s theme parks are some of our biggest attractions for visitors. From Movie World with its themed rides, wandering movie stars and cartoon characters; to Dreamworld with its big thrill rides; Seaworld; with impressive sea creatures and mind-blowing live shows; Wet n Wild with all of the epic waterslides and a giant wave pool; Outback Spectacular with incredible special effects, a story of outback Australia and some absolutely beautiful animals. All SUCH a good time and the kids will be thrilled to be at any one of them.
Walkin on Water
Walkin On Water Surf School can be found at Greenmount Beach in Coolangatta and uses the town’s beautiful beaches to their full potential — which are the perfect places for all levels of surfer. These guys pride themselves on offering group and private lessons for all ages and surfing abilities, from the age of 4 right through to those in their 80’s. Greenmount is an amazing location for beginners and early intermediates, having a good amount of protection from southerly swells it is renowned, amongst others, as the ideal learn-to-surf location on the Gold Coast. Get $25 OFF here.
Where: Marine Parade, Coolangatta
Go for a picnic
Relaxation, good views and all of the food. It’s an almost free activity (you have to buy the food we’re afraid) and when choosing the right spot (maybe nearby a playground), can fill up a whole day. Check out our list of the best places to throw down a rug here.
For a real fun time hit up Broadwater Parklands in Southport. There’s a huge range of free activities including the rockpool water playground, giant bouncy pillow, BBQ areas, eats and a little train that fits big kids (you) and little ones.
Where: Marine Parade, Southport
Known as the Gold Coast’s favourite family-friendly nightspot for tasty street food, fun cocktails, boutique shopping and live bands, Miami Marketta is so so good. Save some coins and share a couple of tapas-style plates amongst the whole family. Oh, and make sure you check out the dessert area too.
Where: 23 Hillcrest Parade, Miami
Currumbin Rock Pools
If you’re looking for something more adventurous and exciting to do, Currumbin Rock Pools is just the ticket. The beautiful scenic drive through Currumbin Valley is enough of an attraction in itself, taking you straight to the natural swimming pool next to Currumbin Valley Primary School. In utter tranquillity, you may just want to cool down and splash in the water or enjoy some family time over a BBQ at the designated picnic area.
Where: Currumbin Creek Road, Currumbin Valley
Take the family and stroll along one of our many local markets on the coast. There’s everything from fresh locally grown produce to fashion, homewares, souvenirs, arts and crafts. Our top three favourite markets are Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets (4pm-9pm Wednesday, Friday & Sunday nights), The Village Markets Burleigh Heads (8am-1pm, 1st & 3rd Sundays) and Carrara Markets (7am-4pm every Saturday & Sunday). Check out the rest here.
Words by Alex Mitcheson.
When it comes to impressing visiting family and friends, is there any better way than going on an adventure and chasing a waterfall — or two? Because beyond epic beaches, and one of the world’s most renowned surfing reserves, we also have world heritage listed rainforests and breathtaking surrounds literally right on our doorstep. And the best part about these fantastic places and mind-blowing natural spectacles is they are entirely free!
So we highly recommend you clear your schedule, pack your swimmers and embark on a fun-filled sojourn into the green behind the gold in search of large pieces of falling water. Set your phone to silent and let the serenity feed your soul.
Here are a few of our favourites, all within an hour or so from the Gold Coast.
38.7km from Surfers Paradise
Just a 50-minute drive from Surfers Paradise and nestled amongst the Denham Scenic Reserve are the Beechmont rock pools — or Lip Falls as the locals call them. Once you park your car (on Doncaster Road), it’ll only take half an hour to make your way down to the falls. Be aware; these walking paths are steep and narrow and right next to deep gorges.
Where: 45-57 Doncaster Dr, Beechmont
Cedar Creek Falls
44km from Surfers Paradise
Cedar Creek Falls are one of the better-known waterfalls on Mt Tamborine and a popular destination for locals and tourists alike (be warned – it can get quite busy). Your best bet is to explore the area via the Cedar Creek Circuit (3.2km), which will take you along all the cascades and rock pools.
Where: Cedar Creek Falls Rd, Tamborine Mountain – To get there, take Tamborine Mountain Road until you get to Cedar Creek Falls Road, just past the information map stopping bay on the left. From there, it’s only a short drive down a narrow road and across a small creek before coming to the Cedar Creek Falls section and the car park at its entrance.
39.2km from Surfers Paradise
It’s a short, beautiful walk through the rain-drenched Eucalyptus forest to the magical Curtis Falls. You’ll wander past towering trees and through a canopy of ferns, down to this miniature and photogenic waterfall. There are lots of cute creatures to spot along the way too, keep an eye for resident platypuses and wallabies. The walk should only talk half an hour or less to get down to the falls, but you will likely want to stay awhile and soak up the peacefulness. It’s just a 1.1km round trip, so you can knock it over in the early morning then stop for a spot of morning tea at the Curtis Falls Cafe.
Where: 16 Eagle Heights Rd, North Tamborine – Get there via Eagle Heights Road and park right at the entrance to the walk.
Lamington National Park
67.4 km from Surfers Paradise
Elabana Falls are certainly a hidden gem located amongst Lamington National Park close to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat (a great spot to grab a bite to eat after your waterfall adventure). Park your car at O’Reilly’s and make your way through the rainforest, past Picnic Rock and further downhill for another 400 metres until you reach the cascading falls. Make sure you refresh yourself with a snack or sit down before embarking on your way back up; it gets pretty steep!
Where: Lamington National Park Rd, Canungra
Springbrook National Park
47 km from Surfers Paradise
As you probably know, Natural Bridge is a heavenly cave-like rock formation at Springbrook National Park that is home to glow worms and a colony of tiny bent-wing bats – it’s also one of the most photographed spots on the Gold Coast. Start the short one-kilometre rainforest walk clockwise to the Natural Bridge rock arch to get down to the action.
Where: Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd, Springbrook – It’s super easy to find; just follow Nerang-Murwillumbah Road until you get to the car park signage at Bakers Road.
40.6km from Surfers Paradise
Start your 4km journey through the sub-tropical rainforest from the Tallabana picnic area or Canyon lookout in an anticlockwise direction. You’ll reach a small bridge, flowing water and immense rock formations after a couple of minutes (perfect for an Insta snap). Keep hiking down the track until you come across two rushing waterfalls. At the base of Twin Falls — after a worthy hike — you’ll find a large rock pool perfect for a rewarding swim!
Where: Canyon Pde, Springbrook
Purling Brook Falls
NOTE: The Purling Brook Falls circuit is currently closed as a result of flood damage due to a severe rainfall event on Thursday 22 September 2022.
37km from Surfers Paradise
The Purling Brook Falls are immense, towering at over 100 meters in height and are naturally best visited after rainfall. Start your 2 hour hike clockwise along a scenic and elevated path into a subtropical gorge to view the amazing falls from below. Venture further down the track until you reach waterholes that are great for swimming. When you have had enough, prepare for a steady climb up through the rainforest, which will bring you back to the picnic area.
Where: 63 Gwongorella Parade, Springbrook
113km from Surfers Paradise
Yes, we know the following two locations aren’t on the Gold Coast, they aren’t even in Queensland, but it will take you a short drive along what is probably the most breathtaking scenic drive, until you reach Nightcap National Park in Northern NSW. Make sure you come prepared because getting to Minyon Falls can be quite the journey (well worth it, though). We recommend you start with Minyon Falls Lookout, providing you with outstanding views before adventuring further downstream towards the base of the falls.
Where: Nightcap National Park, Newton Dr, Nightcap
108 km from Surfers Paradise
Killen Falls are undoubtedly one of the most epic waterfalls to dive into with its large swimming hole and rock pools. The rock has been eroded significantly behind the waterfall, forming an impressive cave. Ever wanted to take a waterfall shower? Well, at Killen Falls, that’s not a problem as you can swim across the pool and climb up the rocks just to sit right underneath the falling water.
Where: Killen Falls Dr, Tintenbar – Killen Falls are super easy to find, just minutes off the Pacific Highway near Byron Bay.
But it’s important to remember, whilst it’s tempting (and refreshing) to go for a swim in the rock pools and lagoons, it’s prohibited in some, so please adhere to any safety signs and be 100% sure it’s safe to swim before diving in. Also, be sure to pack closed-in shoes, plenty of water, mozzie repellent and sunscreen (the sun will still get you between the canopy).
Last but not least, take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints behind!
Words by Alex Mitcheson.