Gold Coast adventures: Adrenaline-fuelled fun for all the family

The Gold Coast is tailor-made for family holidays, and kids won't believe their luck. Think corkscrew rides, cute critters, rainforest zip lines, golden beaches and sunshine. Lose your heart to Australia's unique marsupials in Queensland's wildlife parks. Find safe paddling aplenty for little ones at enclosed swimming beaches along the coast. Just remember to check your stomach contents at the door before defying gravity on a pirate ship splashdown in Australia's theme park capital.

Gold Coast theme parks

It's a cinch your pre-schoolers will vote to go to Dreamworld, to join in the sing-along fun of Wiggles World and pat a rare white tiger at Tiger Island. Pre-teens will hold on tight, spinning and zigzagging aboard family rides like the Shockwave coaster. You'll join screamers of all ages on death-defying 39-storey dives on the world's tallest and scariest Giant Drop.

Fright night horror and big screen magic come to life at Movie World. There's stunt driver action for car-crazy kids and a Batman-themed vertical drop for older thrill-seekers. Hold hands with your kids on the Green Lantern Coaster, the southern hemisphere's steepest drop. You'll probably be way more terrified than they are.

You can take your pick of water wildlife shows and splash rides at Sea World, and clap hands as cartoon creatures create musical 3D fun. Live critters are the real stars of the show though. Your kids will laugh along with acrobatic dolphins and somersaulting seals on an interactive animal encounter.

Making a splash

In summer it's all about getting Wet'n'Wild. The popular aqua park has dozens of imaginative methods for getting you well and truly drenched. Kids freefall down water chutes on the Aqua Loop, catch waves like the pros on Surfrider and ride the river rapids of Whitewater Mountain. Mum and dad can relax, soaking up the whirlpool hot springs or tropical Caribbean atmosphere of Calypso Beach.

For the famous Gold Coast seaside experience, spread your towel anywhere along this 70km stretch of sand. Don't forget to check the lifeguards' flags and keep an eye out for jellyfish sharing the water. Scan the horizon from June to October and you might spot the flumes of humpback whales swimming offshore. Take the family on a whale-watching cruise for close encounters with these majestic sea leviathans.

Hinterland day trips

Weave your way through eucalyptus treetops on a rope-course walk at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Back on terra firma, have your photo snapped cuddling a koala. Try not to look too alarmed when rainbow parrots land on your head at feeding time.

Take a scenic drive to Mt Tamborine. Stretch your legs on a rainforest walk, past creepy strangler fig trees, to hear the frogs' chorus at Witches Falls. Waterfall pools invite you to dip in your toes in Lamington National Park. You'll marvel as glow-worms glimmer and luminous fungi gleam in the caves of Springbrook National Park.

Brisbane for kids

It's ships ahoy at Brisbane's Maritime Museum. Feel free to embarrass the kids with your best pirate impression. You can also explore the historic lighthouse in the grounds. Puppets and games make learning fun at Queensland Museum, and would-be astronauts can pinpoint galaxies in the southern night sky at the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. Cool off in the palm-fringed lagoon at South Bank beach.

Riding a CityCat ferry is part of the fun of visiting the City Botanic Gardens, where you can picnic at the adventure playground and discover exotic plants on a guided walking tour.