3 Days on the Gold Coast

14 January 2014

If your New Year’s Resolution is to travel more, we’re here to see you stick to it until the calendar year ticks over once again. Flight Centre has deemed 2014 the year of “backyard breaks”, boasting unbeatable holiday deals to the top weekend spots around the country. To get the most out of your short and sweet holiday, we’re also bringing you a series of handy three-day guides to help plan your well-deserved weekender.

Today we shine the spotlight on the Gold Coast, where all that glitters is the gleam of high-rise hotels, the sparkling splash zone at iconic theme parks and bejewelled handicrafts of hinterland markets. If you’re planning a long weekend on the Gold Coast while the summer sunshine is still beating strong, here’s how it might go down.

 Ribbons of beach on the glitzy Gold Coast

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Day 1

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Morning

As soon as you settle into your Gold Coast hotel, you will want to whip out the “wish you were here” postcards or, more likely, Instagram some snapshots of the glorious ocean unfurling before you. The GC boasts some 70-kilometres of sand and surf plus balmy average temps hovering in the mid-20s. So, what are you waiting for? Beyond the big hitters like Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach and Main Beach, there’s also Currumbin, Coolangatta, Burleigh Heads and Palm Beach to get your dose of Vitamin D.

Afternoon

After rinsing off the sea spray and dregs of sunscreen, continue your day of indulgence with a stroll along your chosen promenade. When in Queensland, do as the Queenslanders do: that means wearing thongs (flip-flops, to clarify) and a nonchalant attitude. If you’re up for a little retail therapy, Harbour Town and Pacific Fair are shopping mecca. Alternatively, trendsetters should flock to the Village Markets (held every first and third Sunday until 1PM) for bespoke fashions, antiques and organic eats.

Evening

Queensland’s most aggressively developed stretch of coastline comes with one great benefit: the food! Japanese, Chinese and Korean dining options are said to be some of the best in the South East corner, with cheap eats notoriously easy to nosh on at the Cavill Mall. Fish and chips al fresco on the esplanade is always a popular choice, but the discerning diner should venture slightly south to the likes of Nobby’s Beach and Burleigh – don’t go too far though or you’ll cross into New South Wales territory!

 Surf's up at Burleigh Heads

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Day 2

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Morning/Afternoon

Dolphins and tigers and Batman, oh my! The Gold Coast takes the crown as the theme park capital of Australia, enticing families to make the yearly summertime pilgrimage (or more often if they nab a VIP Pass). Peek behind the silver screen at Warner Bros. Movie World, steal a kiss from a cheeky seal at Sea World or dive into the action at Wet’n’Wild.

If the theme parks are on your agenda, you will want to set aside at least half a day to stay and play unless you want to tear the kids from Tweety Bird kicking and screaming. There are five major theme parks to choose from: hear the tiny roars from newborn jungle cats at DreamWorld’s Tiger Island or cool things off at WhiteWater World. Most of the parks are located beyond the Gold Coast’s city limits on the highway to Brisbane. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, don’t worry – there are plenty of shuttle transfers.

Evening

Why stop the fun when the sun goes down? Spruiking entertainment you might want to put the kids to bed for is Dracula’s, something of a Gold Coast institution where cabaret and comedy meet burlesque with a vamp-ish twist. The Goldie is infamous for its nightlife and is known to many as the ultimate clubbing destination. SinCity, Vanity and Platinum are among the hottest spots to be seen on the scene.

 The sun sets over the Gold Coast cityscape

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Day 3

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Morning

There’s more to the Gold Coast than ribbons of beach and bikini-clad meter maids. Take things easy on your final day in paradise by venturing inland to the Gold Coast Hinterlands – if you’re sans car, a number of Gold Coast tours do Hinterland day trips. The yin to GC’s yang, the Hinterlands are a much needed refresh for the senses after club hopping or rollercoaster riding. Take a scenic stroll through Heritage Listed rainforest at Springbrook National Park, or enjoy a loftier vantage point at the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk.

Afternoon

After exploring the green behind the gold, make your way to Tamborine Mountain at the heart of the Hinterlands and knock on some of the region’s most celebrated cellar doors. The Gold Coast is home to a handful of boutique wineries, breweries and distilleries, including Cedar Creek Estate – a picturesque lunchtime reprieve where you can sample varietals such as crisp dry Sauvignon Blanc and plummy Shiraz.

Evening

Rounding out your 72 hours on the Gold Coast, get out there and discover what makes this destination “famous for fun”. There’s always something to do on the Coast, whether it’s a beachfront street party, a world-class sporting event or an evening of good fortune at Jupiters Casino. Promising a balance of fast-paced and laidback pursuits, the Gold Coast constantly ranks among the top holiday destinations in Australia for good reason.  Just see for yourself!

Ashton Rigg

When I'm not at home in Brisbane, you’ll find me wanderlusting around hipster bars, eclectic boutiques and arty nooks. From bagels in Brooklyn to strudel in Salzburg, I believe the best way to experience a destination is by taking a bite! Tweets & 'grams at @AshtonRigg