Sun, Surf and Sand on the Gold Coast
Ah, the Queensland Gold Coast- as far as Australian holiday destinations go this one is legendary, and justifiably so. International visitors will always have it high on their hit list, and Australians spend many hours toiling away in order to take a relaxing break on these sun drenched shores. Whether it be the pristine beaches, the upbeat combination of coast and city or the lush rainforest hinterland that draws tourists in, it does a great job of giving them the best holiday imaginable and ensuring they come back again. And the rate at which the population of this south east corner of Queensland is growing, it looks likes many of them decide to stay forever!

With a perfect climate of warm summers and mild winters and a coastline of kilometre upon kilometre of glorious beachfront, The Gold Coast represents the penultimate beach holiday destination in the country. Its the diversity that makes it so great- surfing meccas like Snapper Rocks and Burleigh Heads are balanced by long stretches of white sand perfect for sunbasking and team sports such as at Main Beach and Broad Beach. Numerous lifeguard patrols make much of the shoreline safe for swimming, but always remember to stay within the flags! Of course one of the most famous and unique beaches is at Surfers Paradise, not just for its beautiful shoreline but also for the fact that the skyscrapers of the CBD encroach right onto the beachfront. You can literally step from the sidewalk or from a coffeeshop right onto the sand!

Surfers Paradise itself is a bustling suburb. With every form of accommodation available, from backpackers to five star hotels there is a large cross section of visitors here. They can enjoy world class shopping and dining in numerous malls and venues, and there is a fun and vibrant atmosphere which finds everyone in strict holiday mode! At night the boardshorts and bikinis are exchanged for dresses and party shoes, and the streets are filled with revellers out for a good time. The nightlife here is renowned across the country, and is supplemented by the bright lights of Broadbeach, which lies just a few kilometres drive south.

If the business of Surfers sounds like it could be a bit too hectic for your holiday, then peace and solitude next to the ocean is right around the corner. Heading north you get to the remarkably calm waters of the Broadwater, protected from the ocean by a large spit of land. The suburbs along this stretch are much quieter, and there are plenty of beachside villas and other forms of accommodation available. A 20 kilometre drive south of Surfers will bring you to Burleigh Heads, characterised by a beautiful headland which creates a fierce point break that surfers love. The beach here is swimming safe and popular amongst kids, and the grassy verges that line it have barbeque facilities that make a picnic a great option.

If you want a bit of green to go with the blue and gold of your beach holiday then the lush hinterland of the Gold Coast is not far away. The Mcpherson Range of mountains is draped in thick bush, and home to an amazing array of birds and wildlife. Its divided up into numerous National Parks, and there are plenty of cosy retreats hidden away in the folds of the hills. There are plenty of campsites, especially near to main attractions, so camping is always an option. Two of the most popular spots to visit are Mt Warning and Mt Tambourine, both offering panoramic views stretching up to the coastline. Mt Warning offers keen bushwalkers a challenging trek up to its summit, which is not recommended for the unfit.

Just when you think you've done everything the Gold Coast has to offer you remember the world class, American styled theme parks that lie just up the highway. Movie World, Wet n Wild and Dreamworld between them have an amazing assortment of rides, thrills and spills that will appeal to the young and to the young at heart. Each park is an entity in itself, and requires at least a day to explore so make sure you set aside the appropriate period of time for them. A rental car will give you the freedom to explore the Gold Coast, and to head out to the theme parks as well. One thing is guaranteed on your holiday here- you will not be bored!

Gavin Wyatt