Winter is a great time to take a break on the Gold Coast. The trying heat and crowds of summer have passed, but it’s still warm enough to thaw out a shivering southerner – and it’s that much easier to get a nice window seat overlooking the beach at a friendly surf club.
And about those beaches – there’s a good 57 kilometres of them stretching from Coolangatta down south near the airport to South Stradbroke Island up the top. With air and water temperatures hovering around 20 degrees for much of the winter it’s never too cold to take a dip. And, unless you’re right in a busy tourist hub such as Surfers Paradise, you can always find a nice, quiet stretch of empty sand to call your own.
Easier to surf
In winter it’s easier to get a wave to yourself at renowned surf spots such as Burleigh Heads, Snapper Rocks and Greenmount, easier to enjoy the beachside exercise equipment at Burleigh, Surfers and other spots along the coast, and easier to get a table at any number of groovy little cafes, bars and restaurants that wouldn’t look out of place in inner-Melbourne.
It’s also pretty much impossible not to see whales – it’s smack-bang in the middle of humpback season, so reasonably priced whale-watching cruises usually offer money-back guarantees. The sight of humpbacks large and (relatively) small breaching, fin-slapping and spy-hopping are memories to last a lifetime, but the cruises also provide a different perspective on the coast itself.
The ones that leave from Surfers, for instance, take you past the houses, mansions and parklands lining the Nerang River, past the marinas and resorts of the Broadwater and out onto the Pacific through the busy Gold Coast Seaway.
With several states having overlapping school holidays in the last week of June and the first two of July, you can choose whether to have a family holiday, or a grown-ups-only getaway in the quiet time after the kids go back.
Whichever you choose, footy fans won’t have to worry about missing their fix, with the Gold Coast Suns and the Gold Coast Titans providing live AFL and NRL action in different settings.
Winter is also as good a time as any to use the coast as a base for day trips to places in the Gold Coast Hinterland.
The tourist town of Tamborine Mountain alone offers an amazing range of sights and activities, from rainforest walks and skywalks to glow-worm caves, art galleries, wineries, a brewery, a distillery and a cooking school.
Springbrook National Park and Lamington National Park have plenty of beautiful scenery, and those who want to venture further out can explore Beaudesert, Kooralbyn and other historic towns of the Scenic Rim. If you prefer to hug the coast you can easily scoot down over the NSW border to visit Byron Bay, Brunswick Heads and surrounds.
You’ll definitely want to pack a jumper – it does get a bit chilly after dark and out in the Hinterland – but a short break on the Gold Coast can be a perfect winter warmer.
10 things to do on the Gold Coast
SEE HUMPBACK WHALES: Take a tour. whalesinparadise.com.au; seaworldwhalewatch.com.au
EAT AT A SURF CLUB: The Currumbin and Rainbow Bay clubs are on the beach.
BROWSE THE NIGHT MARKETS: The Miami Marketta and Night Quarter at Helensvale have street food and live entertainment every Friday and Saturday night.
CLIMB THE Q1: The SkyPoint Observation Deck on top of the Q1 skyscraper in Surfers Paradise offers 360-degree views. Intrepid types can do the 90-minute climb outside and up the building’s metal crown.
TRY FOOD-TRUCK GRUB: The Gold Coast has food trucks with everything from German sausages to New Zealand-style pies and desserts. Siguenos’ Mexican food is a winner.
VISIT CURRUMBIN WILDLIFE SANCTUARY: Kids of all ages can get acquainted with kangaroos, koalas and lorikeets and learn more about Australia’s natural and human history. cws.org.au
TRY SUPPING: Stand-up paddleboarding, or “supping” is popular on Currumbin Creek and Tallebudgera Creek. Beware bull sharks.
SING KARAOKE: If the weather turns rough head indoors, order food and belt out the hits in a private room. gclef.com.au; tune-up.net.au
TAKE THE KIDS TO THE PLAYGROUND: The Broadwater Parklands in Southport have a giant bouncy pillow and a water playground. The Pirate Park in Palm Beach has a big wooden pirate ship. goldcoast.qld.gov.au/thegoldcoast/gold-coast-parks-142.html
GO PLANTSPOTTING: The Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens cover everything from the mangroves to the mountains in a picturesque setting between the Nerang River and the gardens’ own wetland lagoons.
Stay at RACV Royal Pines Resort RACV members can enjoy RACV Royal Pines Resorts new water park while saving 25 per cent off accommodation.
See racv.com.au/royalpines for more information.
See tickets.racv.com.au for RACV member discounts to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, the Skypoint Observation deck and other attractions and events on the Gold Coast.