Gold Coast Attractions
It is claimed that nowhere else in Australia are there so many luxury hotels, resort complexes, motels, apartments, guesthouses and youth hostels, such a range of entertainments and sports facilities, such opportunities for enjoying yourself or for shopping, as on the Gold Coast.
Particularly during the holiday season the resorts on the Gold Coast, with over 3 million visitors a year, are a constant bustle of life and activity: booking in advance, therefore, is essential. The Gold Coast has a mild climate, with average maximum temperatures of 22°C in winter and 28°C in summer, and over 300 days in the year with sunshine.The Gold Coast is one of Australia's best-known holiday regions. During the last few decades it has been involved in a massive tourist development and building boom, extending along the beaches from Southport in the north to Coolangatta in the south and reaching into the green hinterland. After some years of recession the economy was given a fresh boost by the Bicentennial celebrations and Expo 88 in Brisbane, only 70km away, and development is again proceeding apace. One problem has been the washing away of sand from the beaches, which has made extensive protective measures necessary.The green grazing country immediately inland from the coast reaches into the hilly landscape of the Great Dividing Range, with hills rising to above 1000m. There is an excellent network of roads running up the valleys and leading to viewpoints in the hinterland, and the rain forests in the national park are within easy reach. Possible excursions, for example, are to the Numinbah Valley immediately north of the border with New South Wales, to the Natural Arch Bridge National Park (Nerang), Lamington National Park (Beaudesert) or Mount Tamborine.To the south can be seen Mount Warning, the lava plug of a former giant volcano which impressed Captain Cook.
Surfers Paradise, Australia
Surfers Paradise - 'Surfers' for short - is Australia's best known seaside holiday center. The place takes its name from the Surfers Paradise Hotel which was established here in 1923. After the Second World War it enjoyed a great boom, based on its three alliterative assets, 'sun, surf and sand'. This led to tremendous building activity, and the seafront, with its beautiful beach of fine sand, is now lined with high-rise hotels and apartment blocks. Surfers Paradise attracts its visitors with an immense range of entertainments, sporting and leisure activities and its active night life.To the south of Surfers Paradise is Broadbeach. 18km north at Oxenford, is Movie World, where old film sets have been recreated by Warner Bros.
Coolangatta, which was settled at an early stage, has plantations of tropical fruit ('Avocado Land') and has all the tourist facilities (restaurants, hotels in all price categories, shops) typical of this commercialized holiday coast. Here too is the Gold Coast's airport.Coolangatta is separated from Tweed Heads in New South Wales, which is similarly equipped to cater for holidaymakers, by the estuary of the Tweed River. Its development into a holiday resort began in 1903, when the railroad line from Nerang was built, though there was a guesthouse on Marine Parade as early as 1885.Cook gave the name Point Danger to the cape, falling sheer down to the sea, on the north side of the Tweed estuary, from which there are magnificent views of the coast and the ocean. On the boundary between Queensland and New South Wales is a monument to Cook which is also a lighthouse, erected in 1970 on the 200th anniversary of Cook's passage this way.
Springbrook National Park
2159ha.Springbrook National Park is within easy reach of Brisbane for a day trip from the Gold Coast. It was created by the amalgamation of the smaller reserves of Gwongorella, Warrie, Mount Cougal and Mount Wunburra. The park is dominated by the imposing rock faces (up to 900m high) and gorges of the McPherson Range. There are expanses of rain forest and many orchids, and a rich and varied bird life.From walking trails in the park there are fine views of the hills and the coasts.
Useful tips: Best time to visit: spring and autumn. Access is easy from Brisbane on the Pacific Highway and from Southport, Surfers Paradise and Burleigh Heads via Mudgereeba. Warning: Mount Cougal and Mount Wunburra should be tackled only by experienced rock climbers.
Natural Bridge (Arch) National Park
200ha.The central feature of this national park is a waterfall which plunges down into a basalt cave from which the water flows under a natural basalt arch. There are attractive trails from the picnic area to the river through largely unspoiled rain forest and to a viewpoint from which Mount Warning, a lava plug which is a remnant of a large shield volcano, can be seen, affording fascinating views of the scenic beauties of this small national park.
With its excellent situation on the coast, Cleveland (pop. 6580) had a fair prospect of becoming the principal port and ultimately capital of the colony; but unfortunately when the governor of the day, George Gipps, paid an official visit to the town it was low tide, and the governor was so put off by the mud flats over which he had to trudge that the choice fell on Brisbane. And so Cleveland has remained a quiet small town to which people come for a restful holiday.There remain a number of historic buildings from the time when Cleveland had great plans for the future, including the Grand View Hotel (1849), the old courthouse (1853), now a restaurant, and Cleveland Lighthouse (1847-64).
There are a number of handsome old mansions around Cleveland, notably Whepstead Manor at Wellington Point (1874), now a restaurant, and Ormiston House (1862).
Nerang (pop. 10,000) is a little town on the Nerang River. Its popularity as a holiday resort has led to a considerable increase in population. Apart from the Gold Coast with all its attractions for visitors and holidaymakers the main area of tourist interest is the beautiful Numinbah valley. Other attractions, further afield, are Springbrook National Park with its waterfalls and viewpoints and Natural Arch National Park.
Currumbin is noted mainly for the Currumbin Sanctuary, a wildlife reserve owned by the National Trust. It is the home of many thousand brightly colored rainbow lorikeets, which will eat from visitors' hands and even perch on their heads. In and around the town there are a wide range of entertainments and opportunities for wildlife viewing, as well as hotels, motels and caravan/camping parks.
Southport, the first settlement on the Gold Coast, was founded in 1875. It is now the business and commercial center of this busy holiday area, with every conceivable facility for leisure activities, entertainment, sport and shopping. Its situation at the outflow of the Nerang River into the Broadwater, sheltered by the offshore island of South Stradbroke, makes it ideal for every kind of water sport.
Fisherman's Wharf is a shopping and entertainment center in the style of a fishing village, with restaurants and a large boating harbor. From here boats sail to South Stradbroke Island, to Sanctuary Cove with its resort complexes and to Dreamworld, a theme park at Coomera, with a gold rush town, Koala sanctuary and fun rides.
Sea World is the largest commercial marine park in Australia, with numerous shows (performing dolphins and sea lions, a water-ski ballet) and sideshows, and a monorail offering fine views of the park.
Beaudesert (pop. 5030) near the border with New South Wales, is an agricultural center (beef cattle, dairy farming, arable farming).Features of the town include; St Mary's Church (timber-built), Royal Hotel, old post office (19th C), and an interesting Pioneer Museum.
Beaudesert is a good base for excursions to the Gold Coast by way of Tamborine and to Lamington National Park.
Lamington National Park
20,000ha.Lamington National Park (established 1915), with excellent visitor facilities, is one of the state's most popular national parks. It was named after Lord Lamington, governor of Queensland.The park lies in hilly country (the Border Ranges) in the extreme southeast of Queensland, with a plateau (900-1200m) extending along the McPherson Range, which falls steeply down on the south side in cliffs and gorges. The hills are remnants of the ancient Mount Warning shield volcano.The park contains over 500 waterfalls, tropical and subtropical rain forest and beech forests in the higher regions, with a very varied fauna (more than 190 species of birds).There is an excellent network of walking trails in the park, with a total length of over 150km. The best views are to be had from trails in the south of the park.
Address: Box 155, Brisbane, QLD 4002, Australia
Useful tips: Best time to visit is throughout the year. The waterfalls are at their most impressive after the summer rain (March and April); in spring (September and October) there are wild flowers; in winter the weather is at its best (dry and sunny). Access from Brisbane on Pacific Highway or Mount Lindesay Highway.
Transit: There are excursion buses from Brisbane.