Get adventurous on the Gold Coast
Outdoor activities abound, from hiking to hang-gliding.
Think extreme sports and outdoor adventures and you’re more likely to think of Queenstown than the Gold Coast. Yet there’s more to Queensland’s glitter strip than beaches, theme parks and bars. Beyond the bright lights and bikinis of Surfers Paradise, you’ll find a host of outdoor and adventure activities to get your heart pumping and the adrenaline racing.
SkyPoint Climb is Australia’s highest external building climb, with 360-degree views of the Gold Coast region.
The Gold Coast hinterland offers some of Australia’s best hikes through the largest remaining tracts of sub-tropical rainforest on Earth. Manager of RACV Royal Pines Resort’s fitness club, David Hogben, says there are hikes for people of all fitness levels practically on the resort’s doorstep. But the ultimate is the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk, a 54-kilometre, three-day trek along the caldera of an ancient volcano, passing through Gondwana rainforest in the Lamington and Springbrook World Heritage-listed national parks. Prefer sea views? Take the Oceanview track or Rainforest Circuit through Burleigh Head National Park – located on a headland overlooking the ocean and Tallebudgera Creek.
There’s more than 1000 kilometres of bikeway on the Gold Coast, with one trail – the Darren Smith Memorial Route – stretching along the entire coast from Paradise Point to Coolangatta. Keen bikers can also scale the escarpments of Currumbin Valley on a 20.5-kilometre loop, but true mountain-bike aficionados get their thrills on south-east Queensland’s most challenging trails at Nerang National Park. This is where keen bikers can test their mettle on a track built for the Commonwealth Games, or ride through rock gardens and creek beds on one of the single trails traversing 1700 hectares of national parkland. There are bike-hire shops nearby in Nerang.
Adrenaline seekers can choose between 10-metre, 40-metre or 90-metre abseiling drops operated by Binna Burra Lodge within the World Heritage-listed Lamington National Park. Some peaks rise up more than 1000 metres – you’ll have the chance to abseil down an exposed volcanic escarpment into valleys of the last remaining Antarctic beech cool temperate rainforest left on the planet. It’s available seven days a week and costs from $40 for a 10-metre abseil.
Abseiling in Lamington National Park.
Bet you didn’t know that the Gold Coast hinterland is one of the best places in the country to try hang-gliding for the first time. At Mount Tamborine and Beechmont, there’s a host of operators offering tandem hang-gliding. The moderate updraft in the area means hang-gliders can stay in the air for hours; often you’ll see as many as 40 hang-gliders in the air at the same time. You’ll take off from ridgelines overlooking World Heritage-listed national park. Tandem hang-glides cost around $300, or you could try paragliding.
Climb a building
You don’t even have to leave Surfers Paradise to tackle one of the Gold Coast’s most exciting outdoor challenges – climbing one of the world’s tallest residential buildings, Q1. The SkyPoint Climb starts on Q1’s 77th floor, where thrill seekers use harnesses to climb to 270 metres on Australia’s highest external building climb. Start your day with a sunrise climb, or opt for a twilight or night-time session for a bird’s-eye view of the bright lights of Surfers Paradise or Broadbeach. Or book a climb for New Year’s Eve and see the fireworks display over Surfers Paradise. Prices start at $77 for a standard day-time climb.