Forget the high-rises, theme parks and casinos of Surfers Paradise; there’s another side to the Gold Coast. From ancient rainforests and world-class accommodation; to picture-perfect swimming holes and adventure activities – here’s our alternative round-up of the best the Goldie has to offer…
The Gold Coast hinterland is home to some of most spectacular bush walks in the country and there’s more than 260 kilometres of walking tracks to choose from – the Great Walk in Lamington National Park is definitely one of the best. Traverse paths around rock pools and waterfalls under an emerald green canopy of the 23-million-year-old World Heritage-listed Gondwana rainforest. Magical.
Rock With a View
Speaking of Lamington; a hike in the national park can easily be combined with a visit to one of Australia’s best picnic spots – the aptly named, Picnic Rock. Located in the Green Mountains and easily accessed via a 3.5 kilometre rainforest walk from O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat, the spot has spectacular views over the surrounding ancient rainforest and ranges.
If you like your nature with a healthy side of luxury – think an infinity pool overlooking the coastal flats below, oversized baths and romantic, private villas – then Peppers Ruffles Lodge & Spa – Willow Vale needs to be on your hit-list. Located just 15km from Sanctuary Cove Golf and Country Club, its private bungalows are positioned amongst lush rainforest with sweeping views of the Gold Coast. And with whirlpool baths, fireplaces and private plunge pools, there’s ample scope for lovers to get some quality alone time.
More Gold Coast Adventures
For some of the best coffee in the Goldie, make a beeline for the town of Burleigh Heads at the southern end of the Gold Coast. In the last few years, this pretty suburb has become a go-to for cafe snobs. Two of the best are Burleigh Social – housed in a casual, al fresco backyard of communal tables – and Commune Cafe, which is one of the busiest cafes in town.
At the southern end of the Burleigh National Park headland and backed by sub-tropical rainforest, Tallebudgeera Creek is a hidden beach gem. Safely protected inside the breakwater, this sandy spit is the perfect spot for sunbaking, swimming or – as locals do – paddle boarding up and down the picturesque creek.
Just as Burleigh is a must for caffeine fiends, it’s also the epicentre of the Gold Coast’s foodie revolution. And there’s no better place to see this in action than at Asian-fusion restaurant, Rick Shores. Located smack bang on the beachfront, the surf literally laps under the windows of this enviably positioned eatery. Across the road, the slickly designed beachside Justin Lane Establishment is another great option. Since opening its doors in 2011 the Italian restaurant has boomed thanks to its sourdough pizzas and sun-drenched rooftop terrace. The deep fried Nutella ice-cream sandwich comes highly recommended.
A short 12 kilometre drive up the valley from Currumbin Beach and you’ll reach Currumbin Rock Pools. A stretch of smooth sloping rocks, which provide natural slides into the freshwater mountain waters - both deep and shallow. The area surrounding the pools is flat and grassed with several gazebos with picnic tables and bbq facilities set up.