Don't just stop for a few days on Gold Coast capital, get out and explore! 

There's more to Surfer's Paradise than beautiful Meter Maids, beaches and bars, you just need to go looking for it. There's no need to look far though, all these brilliant things to do are under an hour away from the centre of Surfer's Paradise, so get out from the bars and off the beach and go and have an adventure. 

1. Go trekking and sightseeing in Lamington National Park

There are loads of things to do in Lamington National Park, all 20,590 hectares of it. From Illinbah Circuit to the Mount Hobwee Circuit and Python Rock make sure you take spare batteries for your camera with the wealth of what’s on offer here. The tracks in the World Heritage-listed park pass through closed rainforests into open eucalyptus trees and out to the lookout over Morans Falls, Castle Crag, Mount Throakban and the Lost World.

National Park

2. Check out the beautiful falls in Springbrook National Park

Another incredible forest with lookouts over the Rainbow Falls – so called because if you walk behind the falls on a summers afternoon you can see a rainbow through the shimmering water. You can also get a beautiful view over Goomoolahra Falls down onto the Meeting of the Waters and past the Ngarii-dhum Falls. If you’re feeling energetic climb back up the Canyon Lookout for an incredible view. Listen out for the impressive call of the elusive Albert’s Lyrebird too. And the Best of All Lookout lives up to its name too.

Make sure you take the time to enjoy the Natural Bridge Rainforest Circuit and the spectacular natural rock arch formation over Cave Creek. You’ll see buttress roots, strangler fig trees, and epiphytic ferns along the walk, as well as noisy pittas, rainforest dragons and rainbow lorikeets. At night the cave comes alive with thousands of glow-worms.

National parks in the Gold Coast

3. Get fit, drink and fly high in Tamborine 

Fun and fitness is at the heart of the Mount Tamborine Adventure Parc in Hinterland. Practice some SAS commando training over 85 challenges and five courses. Think flying foxes, wire challenges, suspended bridges and you’re halfway there. Once you've had enough adventure head up to the Tamborine Mountain Distillery and knock back a few liqueurs, Schnapps, vodka shots and even some eaux de vie to calm your nerves. Best to wait till you've sobered up a bit, but when you're done check out the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk. Here you can embark on a spectacular elevated walkway through the rainforest. Follow the stable, high-tech steel walkway past rock pools, butterfly lookouts until you finally reach the Cantilever where you will see out over creek and the valley below. It looks epic.

4. Be Batman at Warner Brothers Movie World

All your favourite movie stars and superheroes hang out in one place at Warner Brothers Movie World. Step back a few years (or maybe just the one?) to your childhood and explore the likes of Justice League 3D – The Ride, where you can enjoy an epic 3D interactive experience screaming all the way. There are also stunt shows, magical parades and plenty of character appearances for you to take your snaps next to. The Wet n Wild Theme Park is pretty cool too!

5. And scream your throat dry at Dreamworld

Another theme park, but even bigger than the last. Invest a few days here to really make the most of it and get to see everything, including some of the Big 8 Thrill Rides: Pandamonium, the Tower of Terror II and the Giant Drop with a freefall from 38 storeys, one of the world's highest.

6. Tree Top Walkway

Located on O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat the Tree Top Walkway will take you 16 metres up into the trees. If that’s not a high enough hit for you climb up into the crow’s nest 30m above the ground.

7. Burleigh Head National Park

This is where ancient columns meet the sea, named by the local people as Jellurgal. It’s one of Australia’s most famous surfing point breaks and from here you can see migrating whales heading out to sea. There’s plenty of space for picnicking, fishing and of course, for birdwatching or water dragon finding.

8. Bonogin Valley Horse Retreat

Take some time out of your hectic Gold Coast schedule to get back to nature at the Bonogin Valley Horse Retreat. Here you can combine a private or group lesson with some afternoon tea or lunch, or you could just spend the whole day horse riding. It’s up to you. Another option is to do a half day with the horse and then spend a half day at the Gold Coast Hinterland spa.

9. Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard and Winery

Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard and Winery is just one of the many vineyards near the Gold Coast. Taste some of Queensland's finest wines, including the homegrown Chambourcin and Verdelho, while you enjoy some sun. If you've got some cash to flaunt check out the adjoining restaurant overlooking Wild Duck Lake where the platypus hang out. It's not far from the glowworm caves either. 

A few more things to do: a skydive landing on the beautiful Kirra Beach, scuba diving at the Gold Coast Seaway Dive Site, the Palm Beach Reef or on the Kirra Reef, go up the Skypoint Observation Deck, go rally car driving in a Subaru WRX STi Rally Car or visit the Hinze Dam with its innovative Interpretive Centre.

Further Information

For more information on incorporating festivals in with your travels check out the Music, Festivals and Travel section on the site.

Need a friend to go with? Jump on the message boards and you might even find a fellow gapper to join you.


About the Author: Victoria Philpott

Victoria Philpott

Victoria is the content and community manager at gapyear.com. She's travelled through Europe extensively, dropping in on a few festivals and picking up work as she went. She's an advocate of slow travel and has worked at camp in America for two summers before releasing the pressure in the clubs of Cancun. She's toured Australia, explored the Serengeti and backpacked through Morocco. A wise man once told her, 'In the pursuit of seeing everything, we see nothing', and she tries to recite this to tame her wanderlust, but it's not working.


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