I’ve heard mixed reviews about the Gold Coast in Australia. I’ve heard that there are a lot of high school students using it as a weekend shenanigans so it can get a little trashy. I’ve also heard that it has spectacular beaches and surf so a great beach getaway for everyone. Personally, I had a fun time, but as with any other vacation, it’s who you go with and what you make of it!
We were quite lucky because Cyclone Debbie deterred a lot of the usual tourist crowd so it was a relatively quiet weekend. On the flipside, the weather was still a bit overcast and the ocean had a green tinge to it.
I went to the Gold Coast to celebrate a friend’s bachelorette (fiance and other boys came along for the trip too) and I wanted to share some of our highlights. We flew in on a Friday night and returned to Sydney on Sunday night so we tried to pack a lot into a short trip!
Gold Coast Activities
Being Beach Bums
If we had nicer weather, we probably would have spent a significant amount of time on the beach or surfing. Given the weather, we laid out on the sand for a short bit but it was actually quite cold!
We also took a walk along the pier north of the Main Beach, also known as The Spit. It was a casual walk with a great view looking back on the beach with the city in the background. You can take great photos here with the ocean as well as the cute lighthouse at the end of the pier.
Walking on the Wild Side – Wildlife Sanctuary
The highlight of the trip was probably the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. This sanctuary acts as an animal hospital for koalas that are injured and rehabilitate the koalas. We selected the package that allowed us to hold the koalas and they are the cuddliest and sweetest animals! We had a guide with us the whole time to provide background and answer questions.
- Koala gestation is only 35 days but the joeys stay in the mama koala’s pouch for about 9-10 months after birth
- A joey is only about the size of a jelly bean!
- To adapt to a diet of gumtrees, a baby koala eats pap from its mother (aka the mother’s poop)
Finding Our Inner Kid – Theme Parks
There are 3 key theme parks in the area: Sea World, Movie World, and Dream World. Looking at the different rides available, we decided to go to Movie World. We really lucked out because we barely had to wait in line. The longest line was about 20 minutes and we were so pampered that the 20 minute line was a nuisance. There are 7 “thriller” rides and all are (obviously) associated with various movies / superhero franchise.
Apart from the rides, you’ll want to take posed photos everywhere. They have superheros that I didn’t even know existed but it’s all very fun. Don’t forget to visit the stores to pick up your souvenirs and movie trinkets (such as a Harry Potter wand even though there was no Harry Potter ride). Around 4pm, there will be a character parade. Some of the characters get out of their ride to take photos if you’re into that.
Movie World is a fairly compact park and you’ll definitely be able to cover it in one day. We spent about 4 hours there and felt like we had our fill.
Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!
The casino in town was recently rebranded to The Star. The Star is small relative to other Star casinos but it generates a good crowd on a Saturday night. They have everything from slot machines to craps so take your pick! For the non-gambling friends, there’s a bar with live music.
Dance the Night Away
We hung out at a few bars and went out dancing. I fully recommend The Avenue. This is a fun bar with good drinks. They have a dance floor and a quiet(er) area for chatty groups. We also went to The Bedroom, which is just about as sleazy as it sounds. The Bedroom feels like it was designed to be “fun” for high school kids looking for a rowdy night out. The bartenders are essentially wearing lingerie as they serve you drinks and there are legitimate beds on the side of the dance floor.
Gold Coast Dining
Paradox is great for breakfast. They have a wide selection of healthy, sweet and savory. This is close to Surfer’s Paradise so walkable from the main stretch.
We ate out at a nicer restaurant for dinner and went to The Star hotel. This is accessible by light rail and it was quite authentic Italian food. Also at The Star is Kiyomi which is supposed to be great Japanese food but we couldn’t get reservations.
High Tea at QT Hotel
Have you been to a QT hotel before? It reminds me of a W hotel but with a fresher, more summery feel. Regardless, QT still tries a little too hard… We went for their high tea and the snacks look beautiful. Some of them even taste quite good! But it’s a bit gimmicky. The savory-looking snacks are actually sweet and the items that look like they should be sweet are savory. For example, our eclair was actually more of a sandwich with cream cheese and tomatoes. Our finger sandwich was composed of two slices of cake and peach jam, but looked like it should’ve been a ham and cheese sandwich. It’s a fun experience but it didn’t quite hit the spot for me.
I have never been to a RSL before. In Australia, Return and Service Leagues are community centers for veterans. The center can vary by area but often has a restaurant or canteen attached to the side. We went to dinner at the Currumbin RSL and it was quite a luxury RSL. Alleys Restaurant had fresh seafood and a relaxing environment. Right at 6pm, we all stood to honor fallen soldiers. It was a very local experience and I’m glad we tried it out!
That’s it for my quick weekend trip at the Gold Coast! Have you been before? What are your thoughts?