Victoria Philpott from gapyear.com tells us more about their I’m a Backpacker… Get Me in There competition and exposes the rainforests, national parks, retreats and vineyards just waiting for you on the Gold Coast…
When you think of the Gold Coast in Australia it’s usually the golden beaches, shopping and lively nightlife or Surfer’s Paradise that come to mind, and for good reason. Surfer’s is the main hub of the Gold Coast, it’s where young Australians go to party their spring break away and families spend their summer holidays. The legendary skyscrapers are home to the Gold Coast’s top entertainment centres and tourists flock there to relish a taste of Australian life.
There’s a lot more to the Gold Coast than hanging out in Surfer’s Paradise though. Since August 2002, the Gold Coast has played host to a whole range of ‘celebrities’ battling it out to be crowned king or queen of the jungle on the TV show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here. The show has relaunched the career of the likes of Peter Andre, Katie Price, Kerry Katona and Myleene Klass, and firmly seen the end of the credibility of ‘Dr’ Gillian McKeith and MP Nadine Dorries, who was temporarily suspended from the Tory party for eating an ostrich anus on TV.
Sunbathing on the white sands at Surfer’s, it’s hard to imagine that the lush green jungle you’ve seen on TV is less than an hour away by bus or car. Murwillumbah, where the show is filmed, is just 50 minutes away. If you prefer trekking, waterfalls and abundant wildlife over building sandcastles the Hinterland Rainforest is easy to get to and a beautiful drive away. This is where you’ll find the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary – home to the biggest collection of Australian wildlife in the world – the Tamborine Mountain Distillery and plenty to keep any kids, or young at heart, busy with zip wires, quad biking and tree walks.
Nearby Lamington National Park is 20,590 hectares of World Heritage-listed open spaces, eucalyptus trees, falls and springs. Make sure you pack your camera and your swimsuit before you head out here – you’ll definitely want to capture the unique sights as you go and take a dip from the heat in the bubbling brooks.
Rainbow Falls in Springbrook National Park got its name from the vivid rainbow the shimmering water creates as it falls on a sunny day. There are some incredible vistas throughout the park so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the lookout points to make the most of them. Any horticulturalists will enjoy the buttress roots, strangler fig trees, and epiphytic ferns along the walk, while animal lovers will love the noisy pittas, rainforest dragons and rainbow lorikeets. Stick around for the night to set in – the cave there comes alive with thousands of glow-worms.
There are plenty of theme parks on the Gold Coast too. You can ride on the rollercoasters of your favourite superheroes at Warner Brothers Movie World and go from 0-100km/h in 2 seconds on the Superman Escape. If you prefer wearing your bikini or boardshorts while you satisfy your need for speed, you’ll love the slides, wave machines and surf simulators at the water park Wet ‘n’ Wild. At SeaWorld you can meet dolphins, penguins, seals, sharks and polar bears, before checking out the onsite water park and rollercoasters. And at Dreamworld you’ll find everything you need for thrills, family and kids to have an awesome day out.
The Burleigh Heads area of the Gold Coast is awesome. Hang out at the Burleigh Heads Lifesaving Club for the night and soak up the atmosphere, the perfect spot for making like you’re in an Australian soap opera. Burleigh Heads is famous for being the spot where ancient columns meet the sea, known as Jellurgal by the locals. Surfers know it as one of Australia’s most famous surfing point breaks and you’ll find the surf culture out here is pretty hectic. Animal lovers will know it as the renowned spot for seeing the migrating whales heading out to sea. Bring a picnic and make the most of the fishing and birdwatching.
And lastly for today, but by no means least, check out the Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard and Winery. Although just one of the many vineyards near the Gold Coast it’s definitely one of the most popular. Here you can taste some of Queensland’s finest wines, including Chambourcin and Verdelho, which are grown and wined on site. You’ve come this far so you may as well splash out and sample the delicious fare at the adjoining restaurant that overlooks Wild Duck Lake too.
Plan at least a week in the Gold Coast into your itinerary so you can make the most of the beautiful Kirra Beach, scuba diving at the Gold Coast Seaway Dive Site, the Palm Beach Reef, the Skypoint Observation Deck, the rally car driving in a Subaru WRX STi Rally Car, and to visit the Hinze Dam. You can also go paddleboarding, sky diving, snorkelling, jet skiing, and perhaps one for the more adventurous, enjoy a stomach-churning ride in a stunt plane.
You could win a trip to experience (almost) all of the above in the current gapyear.com I’m a Backpacker… Get Me in There competition, enter now!