With its golden sands and irresistible holiday vibe, the Gold Coast has long been a favourite for travellers seeking a seaside escape where they can swim and soak up the sun. However, this famous Queensland holiday destination offers so much more than a day at the beach. Leave your swimsuit at home but don’t forget your sense of adventure. There is plenty to do on the Gold Coast in winter.
Whale watching on the Gold Coast
Winter is the best time to go whale watching on the Gold Coast. The pristine waters just off this part of the Queensland coastline have a whale watching season which lasts from June and November. You can join a whale watching tour with Whales in Paradise or see whales from the shore. One of our favourite places to do this is Point Danger on the border of Queensland and New South Wales.
Strike a pose at ArtVo Illusions
Strike a pose at ArtVo Illusions at Robina Town Centre for some Insta-worthy holiday shots with a difference. This immersive Trick Art gallery is a lot of fun and there are scenes and photo scenarios to suit everyone. Before you get started on your photo adventure, a staff member will show you how to get the best results such as remembering to stand on the ‘photo spot’ for each scene and holding your phone or camera up high for extra perspective. Our family had a ball taking photos of each other here.
Reach for the sky at SkyPoint Climb
Swap the beach for the clouds at SkyPoint Climb, Australia’s highest external building walk atop the iconic Gold Coast skyscraper Q1. After a safety briefing you’ll be clipped to a specially designed harness system and taken outside to marvel at the jaw-dropping ocean view. Daredevils can walk along the edge of the climb and check out the sheer, 270 metre drop. Less adventurous types can skip the climb in favour of a drink at the cocktail bar. Opt for a romantic twilight climb or early evening visit and you’ll also have the chance to watch the sun set.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has been operating for over 60 years and still has the world’s largest collection of Australian native wildlife. Cuddling a koala and feeding the lorikeets is as popular now as it was back in the 50s but the sanctuary has since added many new attractions. Drape a (friendly) snake around your shoulders or zoom high above pristine Australian bushland and the occasional crocodile on the TreeTop Challenge which includes 11 different ziplines.
Discover the best Gold Coast markets
Currumbin Sanctuary is also home to a lively Friday night market. After you’ve met the animals take a delicious journey around the globe with cuisine from Japan, Brazil, South Africa and Italy washed down with beer from Burleigh Brewing.
For great ocean views and quirky souvenirs, head to the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets. Whether you fancy a cane toad purse or an elegant necklace, this market has you covered. Keen bargain hunters (and their kids) will love Carrara Markets where you can see everything from bric-a-brac and antiques to fashion, face painters and the world’s most venomous snakes. Thankfully these aren’t for sale.
Hot air ballooning on the Gold Coast
Soar high above the beautiful rural surrounds of Canungra on a hot air balloon ride with Hot Air. If you do this trip in winter, you get to enjoy a sleep in as trips at this time of year have a later start plus you get to see the sunrise. You’ll need warm clothes but it’s not as cold ballooning in winter as you might think as it’s toasty warm under the burners which provide hot air to send the balloon floating into the sky.
Soak up the vibe at Main Beach
Tuck into some of the best fish and chips on the coast or blow your mind (and your budget) with a designer shopping experience, at Main Beach the choice is yours. Check out stylish Tedder Avenue, one of the Gold Coast’s top eat streets, or follow the laid back locals to Peter’s Fish Market at Fisherman’s Wharf. Next door there is Vanitas, a silver service restaurant renowned for its degustation menus matched with rare and impressive wines. You will find all the big names nearby at Marina Mirage – think Hermes, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein.
King Tutts Putt Putt
What kid can resist the lure of putting a glow-in-the-dark ball inside a fluoro Egyptian tomb? With three novelty courses to choose from there is plenty of fun to be had at this indoor/outdoor putt putt centre which is equally good rain, hail or shine. We spent over an hour playing the Ancient Egypt course which kept us entertained without being too difficult. Provided your children are old enough to swing a club King Tutt’s Putt Putt is a winner.
Dining on the Gold Coast
If you are coming to the Gold Coast you had better bring your appetite. Try The Fish House for everything from Italian caviar to classic fish and chips served overlooking the curling waves of Burleigh’s main beach. Moo Moo Restaurant at Broadbeach is one of the best spots on the coast to enjoy top quality Australian steak. Across the road The Star Gold Coast has over a dozen restaurants and bars including a famous seafood buffet. Up in the hinterland you’ll need hiking boots not high heels at Dancing Waters Cafe, an ideal jumping off point for the Purlingbrook Falls Lookout walk.
Disclosure: The writer loves visiting the Gold Coast with her family at any time of year.