Unveiling Australia's Gold Coast's Treasures: 10 Adventures Beyond The Beach

The Gold Coast, located south of Brisbane on Australia’s eastern seaboard, is renowned for its extensive sandy beaches, prime surfing locations, and intricate network of inland canals and water passages
Gold Coast, located south of Brisbane on Australia’s eastern seaboard
Gold Coast, located south of Brisbane on Australia’s eastern seaboardShutterstock

When you hear "Gold Coast," the image of endless golden sands and azure waters likely springs to mind. Renowned as one of the world's most iconic beach destinations, this Queensland gem of the Australian continent boasts 40 kilometres of uninterrupted coastline, making it a haven for surfers and sunbathers. However, beyond the beaches, the Gold Coast offers a myriad of experiences.

Think lush mountains, wildlife wandering the streets, breath-taking nature walks, and culinary delights; here is a list of the top 10 things to do at the Gold Coast, Australia, sans the surf and the sand. 

Hide At The Hinterland

Fabled as "the green behind the gold," the hinterland of the Gold Coast truly lives up to its name. Just a 20-minute drive from the hip coastal region, this area starkly contrasts the beachscape. You'll be amazed at how quickly, within a short distance, such incredible diversity is possible. 

Forget the sand-stretched, sunny, and flat coastlines dotted with skyscrapers. Instead, imagine winding uphill roads opening into valleys surrounded by mist-shrouded mountains and tall eucalyptus trees, with charming country houses barely visible from the streets.

While its coastal neighbour shines with glitz and glamour, the Gold Coast hinterland quietly boasts a rich blend of natural wonders, local flavours, and vibrant art and culture. Wander through ancient rainforests, encounter unique wildlife, and enjoy panoramic views. For a memorable stay, book a night at The Verandah House Country Estatewhere you can immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of the hinterland while enjoying top-notch hospitality and comfort.

Cuddle The Koalas And Feed The Roo's At Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Koalas at The Roo's At Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Koalas at The Roo's At Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

It is one of the longest-running tourist attractions on the Gold Coast, operating for 73 years! Today,  Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary serves as a hospital for rehabilitating wild animals, a research facility, and a sanctuary for orphaned and weak wildlife to survive. Unlike a regular zoo or wildlife park, the sanctuary boasts a stunning 27-hectare rainforest where the animals live in a natural environment.

Walk past feeding kangaroos, cuddle some koalas and be awed by the Lost Valley—a hidden treasure home to several hundred species of flora, fauna, and exotic birds that fly freely. You can stroll through the sanctuary on foot or hop on a mini train, waving at the wildlife. For an unforgettable experience, book a premium package that includes petting a koala, enjoying a grazing platter and beverage of your choice, and having an educational session with a koala specialist. 

Try Soaking Or Spa'ing

While vacations are meant to destress, modern-day holidays are often reduced to hopping from one monument to another with a packed itinerary. However, the Gold Coast offers a holiday experience that allows you the luxury of time to unwind and provides various options to relax, recover, and rejuvenate.

From lush spas to cool soak houses such as the Soak Bathhouse at Mermaid Beach,  you can enjoy open-air hot spas, communal mineral baths, a cold plunge, a steam room, and a sauna. For those seeking extra "me time," try the LED facials and infrared saunas.

Another unique way to unwind on the Gold Coast is at Barefoot Fishwhere tiny fish nibble the dead skin from your feet, leaving you refreshed and relaxed. 

For a high-end luxury spa experience, consider the newly refurbished JW Marriott Gold Coast spa. It boasts six treatment rooms, a signature couple's room, a relaxation lounge with high tea, an ensuite stone bath, traditional saunas, steam experience showers, and tranquil ponds. Remember to explore the resort's sprawl, which includes waterfalls, caves, bridges, and creeks.

Go Restaurant Hopping

Feeling Peckish? Out of Sorts? The Gold Coast has the perfect fixes to sip, savour, imbibe, and immerse yourself in food. From coastal dining with stunning views to international flavours, bustling food markets, and delightful sweet treats, it is a paradise for food lovers.

When talking of stunning views, the three hands-down coolest places are the Exhibitionist on the top floor and the Hota Art Gallery. From there, you can soak in the city view and the skyline. The food here takes cues from the artworks, showcasing how art and food can naturally blend.

Rick Shores restaurant is renowned for its iconic location, cult following, and signature dishes, like the famous fried bug rolls and charred roti. At the Rick Shores, enjoy pan-Asian cuisine right off Burleigh Beach. With your feet in the sand, sitting beside a glass-less panoramic window, and the sea breeze tousling your hair, you would understand why the place is worth the hype .

 Tarte Beachhouse in Currumbin is perched beside a tranquil creek, offering a delightful menu that ranges from Parisian desserts to New York-style bagels. For a taste of luxury, head to the Langham Hotel, Gold Coast, where Hong Kong's legendary three-Michelin-starred restaurant, T'ang Court, serves authentic Cantonese culinary masterpieces.

Learn About History And Culture At Jellugral Aboriginal Cultural Centre

Australia is rich in Aboriginal culture
Australia is rich in Aboriginal culture

Offering a detailed insight into Australia's Aboriginal Heritage, Jellugral has walks tailored for curious travellers and history buffs. Step back in time and sign up for a guided trip along the 1.2 km gentle beachside walking trail filled with cultural anecdotes and folklore of the indigenous population.  

Into The Wild Enjoy Rainforest Walks

Tamborine Rainforest SkyWalk
Tamborine Rainforest SkyWalk

When people think of Australia, sandy shores and desert outback often come to mind. With "coast" in its name, the Gold Coast wouldn't even remotely strike you as having Amazonian-like rainforests to explore. Yet, believe it or not, ancient rainforests here existed long before humans, dinosaurs, and even before Australia itself. While much of it has dried up through geological evolution, the Gondwana Rainforests are the last remnants of a story older than time.

Now a World Heritage Area, these rainforests are a refuge for many endangered animals and home to impressive examples of ancient songbirds. Springbrook National Park, part of this region, is perched high in the Gold Coast hinterland, offering scenery filled with cascades and tumbling creeks. A hot favourite of the park is the Natural Bridge Rock formation, known for its glow worm caves, which rely on the dense canopy and rainfall of the Gondwana Rainforests to survive.

For those who love King Kong and Jurassic Park-style landscapes, the Tamborine Rainforest SkyWalk is a must-visit. This privately owned land in the rainforest has installed a suspended walk through the canopies of ancient trees, allowing you to get close to the towering trees rising from the forest floor. Several viewpoints along the sky bridge offer stunning vistas of rivers and waterfalls, making it an unforgettable experience.

The best way to enjoy these walks is to sign up for a culture guide like the Kiff and Culture tours. On these tours, you'd be accompanied by a local specialist who can provide deep insights into these forests.

Soar High In A Hot Air Balloon

Watch the sun come up from a hot air balloon
Watch the sun come up from a hot air balloon

While visiting the Gold Coast, there's something even more exciting than watching the sun go down in the Pacific Ocean—watching the sun come up from a hot air balloon. As you gently rise above the stunning coastline in a wicker basket, you'll be treated to panoramic views of lush hinterlands, sparkling waterways, and endless stretches of sand as far as the eye can see. The early morning light casts a magical glow over the landscape. 

Depending on the wind conditions, your balloon may glide over the coast or the hinterland. Either way, you won't be disappointed as you choose between endless greens with kangaroos hopping and cattle grazing or infinite blues with dolphins playing in the surf below. Go Ballooning provides the best hot air balloon experiences on the Gold Coast.

Shop Till You Drop

Why not trade your beach towel for some shopping bags while on the Gold Coast? Gold Coast is known for some serious retail therapy. With mini city-like shopping centres such as the Pacific Fair Mall, which has 400 stores of the world's best brands set amongst tropical landscapes, it's an easy place to lose track of time. 

Alternatively, you can save a few bucks at Pacific Fair Mall. This outlet has Australia's largest collection of luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, and Tiffany & Co. If you want to shop for local and boutique stores, James Street at Burleigh Heads has the most adorable shops for apparel, crafts, home decorative items, chic cafes, and treasure trinkets.

Brews, Booze, And Views

The Gold Coast is home to a vibrant scene of authentic, handcrafted breweries, distilleries, and wineries unique to this region. From craft beers to fine wines, the Gold Coast offers a rich tapestry of flavours waiting to be explored.

The Gold Coast's beer scene, featuring unique ales, pilsners, lagers, stouts, and sours, has gained national recognition. Hound and Stagwith its old Aussie farmhouse vibe and live music, provides an authentic Australian craft brewery experience that beer enthusiasts will love.

Granddad Jack's Craft Distillery is a must-visit for those who prefer spirits. Just a short walk from the Miami beach, it is the Gold Coast's first distillery for gin, whiskey, vodka, and liqueurs. Founded in 2018, this family-owned distillery has quickly become one of Australia's most awarded, offering a delightful range of handcrafted spirits.

The Gold Coast hinterland's rich volcanic soil and cool mountain climate produce grapes with a distinct taste. Witches Falls Winery is located within Tamborine Mountain and offers a unique wine-tasting experience. 

Be An Art Aficionado At The Hota Art Gallery

HOTA (Home of the Arts) is a daring and unapologetically colourful addition to the predominantly white and gold skyline of the Gold Coast. Not just a standalone building, HOTA is a city dedicated to the arts, including an exhibition gallery, an outdoor stage, and the picturesque Green Bridge, complemented by multiple cafes, restaurants, and retail shops.

The focal point of HOTA is its multi-level exhibition gallery, with the focal point being The Rainforest by William Robinson, a painting worth over a million dollars. This painting inspired architects to design a building that resembled the painting it had to house.

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