There’s never been a better time to explore your own backyard. We’ve rounded up the best the Gold Coast has to offer to keep everyone entertained, during these school holidays and beyond.
With the school holidays already on us and overseas and interstate travel curtailed, why not take the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful and varied sights of the Gold Coast.
Where to stay
If your idea of bliss is a roaring fire, good food and a glass of wine, then look no further than the newly renovated Cedar Creek Lodges at Thunderbird Park. Nestled into the side of Mt Tamborine and just 30 minutes from the Gold Coast, the two-bedroom cabins overlook the creek and rainforest and are the perfect base for a family or romantic weekend away. Enjoy a takeaway from the on-site restaurant on your own balcony, or dine in the Rainforest Restaurant, just 100 metres from your front door. The menu is extensive, a blend of Australian and Asian food, and sure to please the entire family.
Cabin styles range from studios to campsites to glamping (including the new, beautifully-constructed yurts), so there’s something to suit everyone. It’s the perfect place to base yourself as you discover the breathtaking views and numerous activities at Cedar Creek and Mt Tamborine.
If you’re staying for a few nights, you can bring your own ingredients to make meals, as the fully-equipped kitchen has all you need to rustle up dinner for the family.
Bookings: www.cedarcreeklodges.com.au (and yes, you can bring your dog!).
What to do
There’s so much to do at Mt Tamborine it’s lucky that the rainforest’s whipbirds rouse you sweetly, and early, in the morning. First up is an exploration of the activities at Thunderbird Park, including the high ropes courses for young and old. The TreeTop Challenge – Juniors is ideal for children aged three – seven years, with just enough thrills to keep them entertained. For the older daredevils, the TreeTop Challenge provides the perfect adrenalin-pumping adventure, with more than 100 challenges, including 10 flying foxes and even a Tarzan swing.
Don’t forget to visit the Thunderegg Fossicking –budding palaeontologists will love digging for dinosaur eggs, which can then be polished and purchased at the crystal mine hut. There’s also pony rides, 4WD tours and pedalo bikes on the lake to enjoy (and wear your kids out).
Where to eat
Food really does taste better outdoors. And even better when you pair your dish with a breathtaking view. Head to the Polish Place on Mt Tamborine for a hearty lunch of potato pancakes and pierogi (traditional Polish dumplings) after your morning’s activities, it’ll perfectly hit the spot. The restaurant’s outdoor decking area overlooks the Great Dividing Range. Sit back and watch the paragliders float serenely through the skies.
Head to the hills
If you love bushwalking, discovering new waterfalls and wildlife, then look no further than the tracks leading from Binna Burra, Lamington National Park. Start from the car park and follow any of the circuit walks – we chose the Tullawallal circuit, an easy five kilometre walk which took us to the Tullawallal Lookout for sunset – a sight not to be missed.
Head back to Binna Burra and settle into your accommodation – there’s the luxurious Sky Lodges or the new glamping tents, recently built after last year’s devastating bushfires. Enjoy a two- or three-course dinner at the Teahouse (don’t miss the sensational chocolate brownie – you’ve earned it!) followed by marshmallows and family time around your campfire. Then it’s off to bed in your cosy cabins – just don’t forget to pack something warm to wear. The next morning, rise with the sun and watch the rays of light wake up the Gold Coast, 800 metres below you.
Back to the beach
After all that greenery, you may be longing for some of the Gold Coast’s big blue. Stay at Gemini Apartments on Burleigh Hill, the perfect location for an uninterrupted view of the coastline and ocean, all the way up to Stradbroke Island. Many of the apartments have recently been given facelifts and are tastefully adorned with calming beachy themes throughout. It’s the ideal location to explore the bustling Burleigh area – James Street and its many restaurant offerings are just a short walk down the hill. In the morning, run to Tarte for some freshly-baked croissants and coffee and enjoy them while watching the sun rise over the ocean. Pack your binoculars and see who’s first to spot a dolphin or whale!
In the evening, book yourself a table at Harry’s Steakhouse. They cater for children (don’t forget to order the fries – they’re out of this world) and adults alike. As the name suggests, they specialise in steak and are extremely helpful when it comes to choosing which cut of meat best suits you.
Bookings: https://www.geminicourt.com.au/; https://www.harryssteakbistro.com.au/ https://www.tarte.com.au/
If the thrill seekers of the family are still looking for another adventure, head to iFly, in Surfers Paradise. Each participant will be giving a training and orientation session before getting into their flight gear. The helpful instructors guide everyone with patience and humour, demonstrating all the skills and tricks you’ll need. Then it’s time to soar through the (virtual) skies!
Learn a new skill
Nearby is your next stop – the JW Marriot Hotel and Spa. Alongside the newly furbished rooms, restaurants (book a table at Citrique for their seafood buffet, or Misono for a sumptuous sushi supper) and café, there’s now an extensive amount of activities to entertain the kids at their Resorts family program, ‘Family by JW’. Choose from pizza making (the kids then get to enjoy the fruits of their labour), scavenger hunts, sea scooters and snorkel hire to explore the hotel’s resident fish who swim amongst the tropical saltwater lagoons and artificial reefs.
Wherever you go, and whatever you do, you’re sure to find something that suits each and every member of the family – that’s the beauty of the Gold Coast.
By Charmaine Yabsley