5 things you didn’t know you could do on the Gold Coast
There’s more to see than beaches and theme parks.
Words by Ute Junker
Photos Tourism and Events Queensland
If it’s been a while since your last visit to the Gold Coast, you will find there is more to see and do than ever before. Treat yourself to an organic spa break, dive into a new underwater attraction, or try one of these other unexpected activities.
- Discover a cutting-edge arts centre
The new Home of the Arts, or HOTA (pronounced “hotter”) has, somewhat cheekily, been described as resembling Lego brick. One thing is clear: the outside isn’t the only thing that is eye-catching in this sprawling complex. Go for a wander through the five galleries and, depending on the day, you may encounter works by the likes of Charles Blackman or pieces from the outstanding collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. That’s not all: HOTA is also home to a theatre, cinemas, a rooftop bar, an outdoor amphitheatre and farmers’ markets
- Wander through a lush rainforest
Just half an hour from the Gold Coast, Lamington National Park is part of the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests, which includes the most extensive area of subtropical rainforest in the world as well as the majority of the world’s Antarctic beech rainforest. The area’s tree-shrouded hills and cascading waterfalls provide a scenic backdrop for hikers: among the 160km of trails, top choices include the 4.5km return walk from the trailhead on Lamington National Park Road to Morans Falls, and the 11km Box Forest Circuit.
- Learn from a traditional owner
Owned and operated by the local Yugambeh people, Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Burleigh Heads is the place to learn about the region’s history and culture. The local area is rich with cultural sites including Jellurgal, the magical mountain which gives its name to the centre. After you’ve had your hand marked with ochre from an ancient ochre pit, join your Yugambeh guide for a culture walk on which you’ll learn about the Yugambeh’s ecological practices and how they lived on this land for thousands of years.
- Explore an underwater gallery
Opening in 2022, Wonder Reef promises to be a hit with lovers of both nature and culture. The new dive attraction, consisting of nine floating sculptures by Daniel Tempelman anchored to the seabed 2.5km offshore from Main Beach, is designed to create new marine habitats. Filled with overhangs and ledged, these artificial reefs will provide habitats for pelagic fish species as well as sponges, barnacles and invertebrates.
- Destress at one of Australia’s best spa retreats
For more than a decade, Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat has been helping people recalibrate and reboot. Set on 200 hectares in the Tallebudgera Valley, Gwinganna delivers an away-from-it-all vibe, even though you’re just 15 minutes from Burleigh Heads. Choose from one of the tailored wellness programs or simple explore the activities on offer, which range from yoga classes and spa treatments to equine therapy. Add in delicious organic produce and sumptuous natural surrounds, and relaxation is guaranteed.