Flights to the Gold Coast: Australia’s thrill-a-minute theme park

Experience the Gold Coast

All that glitters is the Gold Coast. This rollercoaster ride of heart-in-mouth theme parks is flanked by 70km of white sand, and dwarfed by towering glass resorts and luxury shopping malls. Yes, it’s brash and in-your-face, but the Gold Coast spirit is seductive. Get caught up in the thrill of a water-park wave pool, or join bronzed locals on the beach. Leave your car in the care of meter maid angels sporting gold lamé bikinis.

Adrenaline rush

It’s not called Surfers Paradise for nothing. Find gnarly waves from Main Beach south to Snapper Rocks, and learn how to hang ten from an expert. Try not to lose your lunch in the churning rapids of Wet'n'Wild Water World. Go whale-spotting for Migaloo the celebrity white humpback, often seen swimming within sight of Gold Coast skyscrapers. Or take your head for heights on a saunter across treetop walkways in the Mt Tamborine rainforest.

Eat and drink

Something for everyone? It's more than just a cliché on Australia’s holiday coast. Pig out at burger cafes and pizza bars. Or go upmarket: Thai herbs lend oysters an Asian twist and Greek dips add Mediterranean zest to lobsters (or 'bugs' as the locals call them). Get the essential Gold Coast experience – share a platter of crispy calamari tapas with friends on the beachfront.

Party

The Gold Coast knows how to party – just ask the end-of-year school kids who flock here in droves. Take flight from Gold Coast-invading teens and find refuge in sky-high cocktail bars, or join them on Vegas-style dance floors at warehouse-sized multi-storey discos. Chill out and sink a cold one at any one of the 100-plus watering holes (count 'em!) lining this long stretch of beach.

Fast facts

Where? The Gold Coast's huge expanse of beach starts 90km south of Brisbane and stretches a further 70km to the New South Wales border.

Population: More than 550,000 people live on the Gold Coast. An additional 10 million visitors pour in every year.

Key dates: Originally called Elston, Surfers Paradise beach was named after the Surfers Paradise Hotel in 1933. The local council adopted the name ‘Gold Coast’ in 1958, to help promote the region.

Did you know? The bikini was introduced to Australia on the Gold Coast in the 1940s, when local seamstress Paula Stafford shocked beachgoers with her risqué two-piece designs.

Gold Coast Hotels

You’ll need binoculars to spot beach bikinis from soaring Q1, while a stay at plush Vibe calls for some serious decision-making: there's surf on one side and shopping on the other. Glamour-pusses and air-kissing are in vogue at the world’s original Versace hotel.

Gold Coast Restaurants

You're more likely to see a whale cruising past your table than a pachyderm at Elephant Rock Café. Chew on kangaroo or devour a juicy wagyu steak at Moo Moo. Saffron-infused pasta is served alongside Broadwater views and sea breezes at chic Fellini.

Shopping on the Gold Coast

You’re on the beach so get with the gear; Seafolly swimwear for the ladies and Billabong boardies for the boys. Or upgrade Versace style. Dandelion greens from the organic market give you the energy to keep shopping until the cash runs out.

Gold Coast Nightlife

Dance under the cheesy glitter ball of a Vegas-style nightclub or sip sky-high cocktails in the Q1 tower. ‘Plop’ the kids down to an art centre show. All ages and tastes, good and bad, are catered for here.

Gold Coast Attractions

Go ballistic or animalistic at Gold Coast parks. Blast from the Tower of Terror, do the Superman roller coaster or Batman high-speed chase. Or cuddle koalas and dive with dolphins. Best just admire the crocs from a respectful distance though.

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