Gorgeous sun-kissed beaches fringed by pandanus palms. Lush hinterland known as ‘the green behind the gold’. Pristine creeks that flow out to the sea.
This is the Gold Coast, one of Australia’s most beautiful stretches of coastline with its apt tagline ‘Famous for Fun’.
Sure, the 2018 Commonwealth Games are the big-ticket drawcard these school holidays, but let’s face it, even athletes don’t compete 24/7.
When you’re not cheering on the Aussies, let your kids ride like they’re Cadel Evans, run like Cathy Freeman and walk like Jane Saville. With endless kilometres of footpaths, walking tracks and cycle ways, it’s super easy to get active with the kids on the Goldy.
‘The Green behind the Gold’
Described as the ‘green beside the gold’, the Federation Walk Coastal Reserve is a sprawling area of dunes (93 hectares) where a network of paths and tracks offer birdwatching, the sound of crashing waves, and the chance to take a swim, minus the crowds. Starting in the carpark opposite the entrance to Sea World, the Federation Walk weaves in and out of native bush, and finishes at the Gold Coast Seaway (The Spit) where you can take in expansive views of the coastline – South Stradbroke Island to the north; the towering skyscrapers of Surfers Paradise to the south. The popular yet secluded path, made of compacted gravel, is great for both walking and cycling. Be sure and bring your water bottle and hat!
The trail is approximately 3km (6km return) and will take one-two hours depending on how many stops you make for swims and photos. Plan your walk or ride during The Games at getsetforthegames.com.
Burleigh Headland Stroll
This is a terrific coastal walk to do with kids steady on their legs (or parents willing to carry littlies on their shoulders for some of the way). Start from the rocky headland at Tallebudgera Creek, passing through coastal heath and mangroves to southern Burleigh. From there either loop back to where you started or travel via the Rainforest circuit and Tumgun Lookout. The short climb to the lookout rewards walkers with incredible vistas of the southern Gold Coast, with the glittering towers of Surfers in the distance. Along the way, there are bearded dragons to spot, as well as gorgeous sea views framed by pandanus groves. Have a swim at Tallebudgera Creek, a local’s secret, when you’re done.
This fantastic walk takes around 30 minutes or an hour return but allow time for photos and a swim. For more info, head to getsetforthegames.com.
Surfers Paradise Strip
This 10km return route offers it all – a fantastic, flat coastal path, and all the fun of the incredible Broadwater Parklands. Start opposite Cavill Avenue, and head north along Surfers Paradise Beach, past Australia Fair Shopping Centre (mum may be tempted to alight here so pedal extra fast) and end at Broadwater Parklands. The parklands are home to jumping pillows and fantastic play equipment including a water park. Pack a picnic for a fun day out.
This cycle will take about 25 minutes to do at a leisurely pace (50 minutes return) – but factor in time to spend at the parklands. For those travelling during the Commonwealth Games, view this Surfers Paradise guide to help plan your days.
Kirra to Duranbah surf, walk and cycle
Sunset is a magical time to do this gorgeous 3km (one way) walk (or short cycle) from Kirra Beach at Coolangatta to Point Danger and on to Duranbah. Start out on the path that runs parallel to Coolangatta Beach, heading towards the family-friendly Greenmount Beach. As you round the headland, grab a quick selfie with a backdrop of Rainbow Bay and surfers playing in the waves. Continue past Rainbow Bay Surf Club to Snapper Rocks, one of the world’s best surf breaks and home to the Quiksilver Pro surfing contest. Admire the surfers, before continuing upwards to Point Danger on the Queensland-NSW border, overlooking Duranbah. Dolphins are often spotted, along with whales in season. Head back to the surf club for a sundowner on the deck, or let the kids burn off excess energy in the playground.
This walk will take at least an hour return, but remember you’ll be stopping for lots of photos and, hopefully, a sundowner or two. Plan your trip from getting there to getting back.
Koalas at Coombabah Lakelands
Home to the Gold Coast’s largest koala population, this conservation area protects more than 1200 hectares of wetland, eucalypt forest, salt marsh and mangrove habitat, as well as vulnerable fauna – yet amazingly, you’re smack bang in the heart of the Gold Coast. There are several access points to Coombabah Lakelands, but a good spot is Rain Tree Glen (plug it in to Google maps). From the carpark follow the track network by foot or pedal power (gravel trail), including a board walk winding through melaleuca wetland. Highlights include spotting kangaroos in the open grasslands, wallabies, and if you’re really lucky, seeing koalas feeding or dozing in the trees. A bird hide at the end of the boardwalk (accessed on foot off Shelter Rd) meanwhile is great for a spot of twitching. Note: pack the insect repellent.
Walks vary in length. The boardwalk is 500m, or you could spend hours exploring the various tracks by bike or on foot. For more info on routes, head to getsetforthegames.com.
Tamborine Mountain rainforest walk.
Veer away from the coast, and up in the cooler air of Tamborine Mountain (around 50 minutes from the coast) you can take a spectacular walk high in the rainforest canopy. This is the only activity on our list that costs money, but trust me, it’s worth it (see here for pricing). The 1.5km Tamborine Mountain Skywalk takes you from the forest floor, across 300 metres of high-tech steel bridges through the highest points of the upper canopy, and over a 40m cantilever bridge that soars 30m above the creek and rainforest below.
See magnificent strangler figs, Picabeen, Walking Stick and Rattan Palms along with Richmond birdwing butterflies and the beautiful Cedar Creek Falls. The walk is also stroller friendly (there are a few steps), while wheelchair access is available to the Skybridge (the first 300 metres).
Sheriden Rhodes travels Australia and the world with her nine-year-old Ella, aka the Frequent Small Flyer. You can follow their adventures at www.rhodeswelltravelled.com or www.instagram.com/rhodeswelltravelled/.
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Queensland's Department of Transport and Main Roads.
Get set, the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games is here from 4 – 15 April. It’s an exciting time! To make the most of it, get prepared and plan ahead. Use our interactive travel impacts map and other detailed information to find out how your travel might be affected. There’s plenty of ways to change up your travel routine like leaving the car at home and taking the bus, walking or cycling shorter trips or if you have to drive, avoiding the busiest times and locations. It’s all about being flexible, remember even small changes make a big difference. Visit Getsetforthegames.com