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Gold Coast Australia

The Gold Coast is one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations. Each year more than 3.6 million tourists visit the Gold Coast from both Australia and overseas 1). The Gold Coast is renowned for its golden beaches, surfing, theme parks, nightlife and weather. This article will give anyone who plans on visiting the Gold Coast a guide to what to see and where to go.

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The Gold Coast, Australia Source: Author

Geography and Climate

The Gold Coast is located in the state of Queensland, Australia. It has 57 kilometres of coastline along the Coral See/Pacific Ocean. The northern tip of the region begins just south of the Albert River, which is 40 kilometres south of Brisbane, and stretches to Tweed Heads, which is located just on other side of the border with New South Wales. The region also stretches east to the Gold Coast Hinterland, which includes Mount Tamborine. The Gold Coast is home to over 500,000 people and is the sixth largest city in Australia 2).

The Gold Coast has a sub-tropical climate, with a majority of its rain falling in the summer months, or wet season. The Gold Coast is renowned for its good weather, with an average of 25.1 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). July is the coolest month with an average temperature of 21.1 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit). The warmest month is January with an average temperature of 28.7 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit). February is the wettest month with an average rainfall of 193mm (7.5 inches) with August being the driest month with an average of 44 millimetres (1.7 inches) 3).

History

The Gold Coast was originally home to the Kom-bumerri and Yugambeh aboriginal tribes. They called the Gold Coast area 'Kurrungul' 4). The first known white settlement on the Gold Coast was in 1865, in an area which is now the suburb called Nerang. In 1902, the suburb of Southport was declared a town. As years passed, more and more holiday home began appearing up and down the coastline. In 1933 the first hotel was built at what is now known as Surfers Paradise.

Shortly after, in 1936 an emergency landing strip was built at Coolangatta, and this is where the current Gold Coast Airport is now positioned. By 1950 the Gold Coast was really starting to gain in popularity with the construction of shopping centres and more hotels and motels. The Gold Coast finally became a city in its own right in 1958 when the area was now officially known as the Gold Coast 5).

In 1972, the first theme park, Sea World was officially opened at Main Beach. Dreamworld was the second theme park to open in 1981 at Coomera. The Gold Coast Airport was upgraded and its runway extended to allow larger planes to land in 1982. The third of the large theme parks, Movie World opened in 1991.

Beaches

The Gold Coast is renowned for its pristine beaches and excellent surfing locations. Starting from The Spit in the north all the way down to Coolangatta in the south, you can find many locations to swim. There are lifeguards on duty all year round, usually between the hours of 9am to 5pm, although this can vary depending on the season. There are facilities at several beaches where you can hire a surfboard or body board, and also if you are a novice there are plenty of surf schools. Lifeguards will set up flags in areas deemed safe and it is strongly advised to swim between these flags. Gold Coast beaches are prone to rips and strong currents, so in order for lifeguards to be able to see you it is imperative that all swimmers stay between the flags. For more information, see this site http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Australia_and_Oceania/Australia/State_of_Queensland/Gold_Coast-1875847/Warnings_or_Dangers-Gold_Coast-Water_safety-BR-1.html.

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Coolangatta Beach, Gold Coast Source: Author

Theme Parks

The Gold Coast is home to 3 theme parks as per listed below -

Sea World

Sea world is the oldest theme park on the Gold Coast and located at Main Beach. Here you can find many attractions, from dolphin and seal show, an underwater aquarium, polar bears and shark to roller coasters. Sea World also has its own resort where you can stay within walking distance to all the attractions. For more information please see this site http://www.seaworld.com.au

Dreamworld

Dreamworld is located at Coomera, which is on the northern end of the Gold Coast. It has many attractions and rides, and is also famous for its white tiger sanctuary. It is also renowned for its high-adrenalin rides for those who like to live on the edge. White Water World is located adjacent to Dreamworld, and is a water park that has many different rides and water slides. For more information please see this site http://www.dreamworld.com.au/.

Movie World

Movie World is located at Oxenford, which is almost directly across the highway from Coomera. Movie World is owned by Warner Brothers and is home to many movie themed rides and attractions. This theme park also has a water park adjacent, called Wet n Wild. For more information please see this site http://movieworld.com.au.

Accommodation

Being a major tourist hub, there are plenty of accommodation options on the Gold Coast. There is a range of budget options right through to 5 star resorts and hotels. The majority of these hotels are located either in Surfers Paradise or Broadbeach, however areas like Runaway Bay, Main Beach, Burleigh Heads, Mermaid Beach and Coolangatta are also very popular. It is recommended that you book early, as it can get difficult to find accommodation during certain times of the year, especially school holidays.

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Gold Coast, Australia

Nightlife

The Gold Coast has a variety of options for those who like to party after dark. Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach are the two main locations, where you will find many bars, nightclubs and pubs. For those who like to have a punt, you can visit Jupiters Casino at Broadbeach. There is also a good variety of bars and clubs in Coolangatta.

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Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast

Food

Australia is renowned for its multiculturalism, and the Gold Coast is no exception. In all areas of the Gold Coast you can find restaurants that specialise in just about every type of cuisine. There are also many cafes and fast food options and you will have no trouble finding something to suit your taste.

Transport

There are two major highways/arterial roads that run through the Gold Coast, the Gold Coast Highway and the M1/Pacific Motorway. The Gold Coast has good signage and roads, and there are a big variety of car rental companies either at the airport or in many areas of the Gold Coast. Please visit this site for more information on driving in Queensland http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Safety/Queensland-road-rules.aspx. There is a train line which runs from Varsity Lakes in the south and travels all the way to Brisbane. There is also a large network of buses that service all areas on the Gold Coast. For more information see this site https://translink.com.au.

Gold Coast Hinterland and Tamborine Mountain

The Gold Coast Hinterland is a low mountain range that runs parallel to the coastline about 40 kilometres from the coast. It is renowned for its forests and national parks, with many walking trails and waterfalls. There are also many eco-style resorts for those who like to like to get back to nature, and also many places where you can try the local food and produce. There are several companies who run day tours to the area.

Tamborine Mountain is located on the northern fringe of the Gold Coast Hinterland. It is home to a native rain forest and many beautiful cottages and farms. The main street of Tamborine Mountain has a variety of local arts and crafts stores, including Australia's largest cuckoo clock store. There are many restaurants and cafes where you can try the local produce and cuisine or a nice cup of coffee. There is also an iconic market that is held at the local oval on the second Sunday of each month.

Shopping

There are plenty of options when it comes to shopping on the Gold Coast. You will find a variety of larger and smaller shopping centres in the various suburbs, along with individual stores. Pacific Fair is a shopping centre which is located at Broadbeach and is one of the largest shopping centres in Australia. You can also find big shopping centres at Helensvale, Southport, Robina and Coolangatta. Another good option Harbor Town, which is an outdoor outlet store located in Biggera Waters which is on the northern side of the Gold Coast.

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Benowa, Gold Coast Source: Author

Other Attractions

The Q1 Building

The Q1 building is located in the heart of Surfers Paradise and is the tallest building in Australia. Here you can enjoy a meal or coffee at the very top while enjoying stunning panorama views of the ocean and hinterland. For the adrenalin junkies you can do a skywalk on the outside of the building.

Currumbin Wildlife Park

Currumbin Wildlife park is located in Currumbin, which is on the southern end of the Gold Coast. It is home to many native Australian animals and here you can interact with many of them. There are daily bird shows and crocodile feeding exhibitions.

Marina Mirage

Marina Mirage is located at Main Beach, which is near Seaworld. Here you will find many high end fashion stores and a variety of restaurants. You can also take a walk around the marina and see all the multi-million dollar yachts.

Broadwater Cruises

The Gold Coast is home to many canals and waterfront homes. There are a variety of tour operators who conduct tours around the broadwater and canals. For the romantics you can hire an intimate gondola and cruise along the Nerang River at night. There are also a host of different fishing charters according to your requirements.

Whale Watching

The Gold Coast is also renowned for its whale watching. Every year hundreds of humpback whales go past the coastline during their migration. There are several tour operators who can get you close to the action.

Australia | Travel

1) Tourism Queensland, 2013, ‘Gold Coast Regional Snapshot’, Available: http://www.tq.com.au/fms/tq_corporate/research/destinationsresearch/gold_coast/GC.pdf Accessed 5th of February, 2014
2) City of Gold Coast, 2013, ‘The Gold Coast’, Available: http://www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/thegoldcoast/default.html Accessed 7th of February, 2014
3) Weatherzone, 2013, ‘Gold Coast Long-Term Averages’, Available: http://www.weatherzone.com.au/climate/station.jsp?lt=site&lc=40764 Accessed 8th of February 2014
4) Gold Coast.com.au, 2013, 'Gold Coast History', Available: http://www.gold-coast.com.au/gold-coast-information/gold-coast-facts-and-figures/gold-coast-history/ Accessed 5th of February, 2014
5) Gold Coast Info, 2013, 'History of The Gold Coast', Available: http://www.goldcoastinfo.net/aboutgc/history/ Accessed 4th of February, 2014]]

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