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Going For Gold! Holidaying on Australia’s Gold Coast
Located in south-east Queensland, the Gold Coast is one of Australia’s premier holiday playgrounds. With 70 kilometers of sun-drenched beaches, rainforests, theme parks, shopping and World Heritage-listed nightlife – it’s a world-renowned, stylish holiday destination. In fact, the Gold Coast has been recognized as one of the most desirable places in the world to live based on political, social, health, personal safety, economic and environmental factors.
The Gold Coast is located in the subtropical region of the Southern Hemisphere and enjoys warmth and sunshine all year round. Australia’s seasons are the opposite of those in the northern hemisphere – the average summer temperature is 25 degrees Celsius and in winter, it is around 15 degrees Celsius. You can expect over 300 days of sunshine each year, with the wet season being from December to March when the northwest monsoons move south from Asia bringing heavy rain.
Your flight will likely land at Brisbane International Airport – which is a 45-minute drive north of the heart of the Gold Coast. Alternatively, if your holiday in Australia started in say Sydney or Melbourne, you can choose to fly into Gold Coast Airport at Coolangatta, which is about 35 minutes south of Surfers Paradise, considered by anyone to be the epicenter of the Gold Coast . Both airports have tourist information kiosks and car rental companies represented in their terminals.
All foreigners – except New Zealanders – require a visa for all visits to Australia. Citizens of some countries can obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), which is a tourist or business visa valid for a stay of up to three months. These ETAs are available online and through travel agents at the time of booking your flight to Australia. If you apply for your ETA through your agent, the direct application fee is usually withheld.
Accommodation: With all kinds of accommodation, from luxury 5-star hotels to farm stays and from sunny beach cabins to sunny bed and breakfasts, you’ll be spoiled for choice. A visit to http://www.gold-coast.net and a click on “accommodation” will show you a variety of hotel options, including location and cost, that you can browse and compare. Most guests base themselves in the hub of Surfer’s Paradise, however, if you prefer a quieter, less crowded location, consider a condo overlooking the waterways at Runaway Bay or an inland retreat at Mount Tamborine where you’ll be greeted by rainbow loris every morning.
Driving : Australia drives on the ‘left’. Overseas visitors who are used to driving on the ‘right’ should be careful until they get the hang of it – roundabouts can be particularly tricky. Your travel agent will be able to tell you if your current driving license is valid in Australia. Check this several weeks before departure so you have time to apply for an international driver’s license if required. Australia has a well-maintained road and highway system where speeding, drink driving, driving while using a mobile phone and not wearing a seat belt are not tolerated. If needed, most car hire companies will provide you with child car seats and these are also required by law.
Sights and Activities: Once you’ve settled into your Gold Coast accommodation, you’ll want to plan what to see and do. If you’re traveling with kids, theme parks will be high on your agenda. The Gold Coast has four major theme parks. Dreamworld, Movie World, Sea World and Wet and Wild. Our family favorite is Dreamworld because it has something for all ages (including a water park) and hosts the Australian version of the popular reality TV show Big Brother.
There are also a couple of wildlife parks on the coast that run great educational talks at regular intervals throughout the day and are a great excursion. At David Fleays Wildlife Park and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, you can get up close to snakes and predators, cuddle a koala and feed kangaroos. Both parks have cafes, picnic and play areas where families can rest and play in the shade.
When visiting the Gold Coast, you’ll also want to head to the beach, where you can catch a surf carnival, take a surfing lesson, or just swim and build sandcastles. Some of the most popular beaches are Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, Burleigh Heads and Currumbin. There is also a very family friendly sheltered beach at Paradise Point which includes a beach park, BBQ’s, picnic tables, plenty of shade, play areas and some great shops just a stone’s throw away.
Unfortunately, one of the most common causes of tourist deaths in Australia is on its glorious beaches. Every year several tourists (and sometimes locals too) drown on its shores. Australian beaches – particularly the long stretches common to the Gold and Sunshine Coasts – have extremely strong rips and pulls that most people can’t detect or handle. Never swim at beaches that are not patrolled by lifeguards. Look for the yellow and red surf flags and swim between them to stay safe and in sight of the local lifeguard.
With nine times more waterways and canals than Venice – get ready to enjoy many types of shore entertainment with sunset cruises, sailing, jet ski rides and fishing charters.
For a contrasting experience head inland and visit beautiful inland areas such as Tamborine Mountain or experience the rural lifestyle in country towns such as Beaudesert. The Gold Coast has some of the most diverse areas of flora and fauna in Australia with World Heritage-listed rainforests located near the New South Wales border where you can walk among ancient Antarctic beech trees, see the spectacular Springbrook Falls or head to the cool of Lamington National Park.
For golfers, there are more than 40 championship golf courses in the area. Three hundred days of sunshine a year means that golf can be on your holiday schedule whatever the season and you can play on wonderful courses designed by Greg Norman, Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus.
For golfing widows and widowers, shopping centers abound on the Gold Coast with some of Australia’s largest shopping venues. Visit Pacific Fair, Marina Mirage, Harbor Town or Runaway Bay Mall on the coast or head inland to browse craft shops, farmers markets and art galleries.
Dining: At the end of a hard day of shopping or sightseeing, choose from more than 500 restaurants and indulge in fresh seafood or authentic ethnic cuisine from Italian to Japanese and Thai to Chinese.
Within an easy day trip from the coastal regions, you can enjoy local wines on the Gold Coast Wine Trail, which starts in the suburb of Oxenford and winds its way west towards Mount Tamborine. Many wineries offer gourmet food, cheeses, live jazz bands and other types of live entertainment such as poetry readings and classical quartets.
When it comes to entertainment, the Gold Coast is exciting. There are events like the annual Indy car race in October, horse races, carnivals, rigging and marathon events. Alternatively, you can go to the cinema, see live music or a themed show, go to a nightclub or visit Jupiter’s Casino. Families can head to Surfers Paradise, where free movies are regularly shown on a giant screen located on the beach. People bring their own chairs and towels, and when the sun goes down, a double bill of family-friendly movies begins.
Excessive sun exposure in Australia’s latitudes is responsible for many cases of sunburn, sunstroke and heat exhaustion each year. In the long term, premature aging and skin cancer are also a risk. Even in colder southern regions, the proximity to the hole in the ozone layer means that the risk of sunburn is much greater than in the northern hemisphere. Fair-skinned people are particularly at risk and the use of an SPF 30+ sunscreen is recommended. Sunny Australia has a simple message for the traveler “Slide, Slide, Slap!” Put on a shirt, put on some sunscreen and put on a hat!
Australia as a whole enchants its visitors. From the friendliness of its people, to its stunning blue sky, it is a place like no other, with animals and landscapes you won’t find anywhere else on earth and an unparalleled variety of people, tastes, aromas and sights.
This vast island-continent has a relatively small, urbanized population of just 20 million people. By contrast, the UK is home to around 60 million people and is 30 times smaller than Australia. Australians are also a culturally diverse nation where multiculturalism is not just tolerated but embraced. Around 5.6 million people have immigrated to Australia since World War II – which is a huge proportion of the population – in fact, over a quarter of today’s population was born overseas.
People from all walks of life come to the Gold Coast to work, live, play and study – the lifestyle is relaxed, the people are friendly and if you’re anything like us, you’ll come back from your Gold Coast holiday and you will apply for immigration to Australia ! We have lived in it for the last six years and now we call it home…
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