travel

Five parent-approved tips for enjoying the Gold Coast with kids this summer.

Dreamworld
Thanks to our brand partner, Dreamworld

The biggest challenge I find when on holiday with my family – my daughter Olivia and partner Holt – is striking the right balance of enjoyment for both kids and parents.

That’s why I honestly think there is no better place to head for a family holiday than Queensland’s beautiful, sunny Gold Coast.

They have stunning, clean and safe patrolled beaches. They have world-class theme parks. And if you’re willing to get off the beaten track a little, the lush hinterland is filled with waterfalls, bushwalks and panoramic views of the coast.

Having grown up locally and spent my holidays and weekends all around this stunning part of the world, I have a few tips to make the most of your time when you’re here.

1. The best theme parks for value and variety.

The coast is lucky to have so many theme parks but my absolute top picks are Dreamworld and WhiteWater World. Growing up on the coast and being an annual pass holder, I have been coming here since I was a very young child. Now, as a father I get to share and make new special memories with my daughter.

On our most recent visit, we were thrilled to see so many new, exciting rides and experiences. One of our favourite new rides was the Sky Voyager Experience, a virtual reality ride that takes you all over Australia’s spectacular landscapes, combined with special effects like wind, mist, movement and smells. You could not wipe the smiles off our faces with this one.

I’m a huge animal lover, so a day at Dreamworld for me always includes a visit to the animals and this time we were lucky to see the new tiger cubs at Tiger Island. We loved watching them play and run around in their beautiful home with lots of my daughter’s curious questions answered by the wonderful tiger carers.

From there, we usually head to Corroboree, an area that showcases Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures with activities like face painting, storytelling, weapon shaping and music; and a wildlife section where you can cuddle kangaroos, pat a koala or see the adorable new little bilbies.

We usually find ourselves at one of the many shows during the day – this summer there’s been a show from The Wiggles and also Fun House, a modern acrobatic, circus-style show with great laughs and plenty of wow moments.

 

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Dreamworld is connected to WhiteWater World so during the hottest Queensland days we just wander on over there. My daughter loves splashing about at Wiggle Bay, while as a family, we head straight for The Green Room – a green cloverleaf tube which takes us through a 75-metre tunnel to a 15-metre funnel, dropping us out the other end.

This summer, WhiteWater World has also opened its brand-new Fully 6 body slide attraction with different kinds of slides from open air to enclosed – and one even has light effects.

We recently renewed our annual passes, which offer the best value. The Biggest Pass is priced from $139 for adults, $119 for kids (in Queensland or Northern New South Wales). When you buy the pass online, it gives you unlimited access for 13 months to Dreamworld, WhiteWater World, the SkyPoint Observation Deck, and the shows and special events, as well as food and beverage discounts and a very handy jump-the-queue pass for the most popular rides.

2. The safest and most scenic beaches.

No trip to the Gold Coast is complete without plenty of swimming at the beach. But make sure you find safe ones that the whole family can enjoy.

Burleigh Heads is one of the most scenic spots of the coast where you can not only swim in stunning patrolled waters but also take an easy walk through the Burleigh Heads National Park, and on your return grab fish and chips like we do, and sit on the grassy green hill watching the surfers and the iconic Surfers Paradise in the horizon.

Not too far from Burleigh you will also find Tallebudgera Creek – an absolute Gold Coast favourite, and for good reason. We usually park on the Palm Beach side where you can walk down to the crystal clear water and patrolled beach for a swim, kayak, stand up paddleboard and have a yummy picnic lunch. Another great spot we visit over summer with our daughter is the Broadwater Parklands at Southport. Here you will find a safe netted swimming area that is patrolled, plus a manmade rockpool and playgrounds. They also have a nice cafe and barbecues to enjoy.

3. A day in the Gold Coast Hinterland.

When we need a break from the sand and a view from a different perspective we head up into the lush green Hinterland where a pub lunch, rainforest walk, and waterfall are always on our agenda, at either Springbrook National Park or Tamborine Mountain.

Tamborine Mountain is a place I have been coming to with my family and friends for many years and the stunning panoramic views are worth the short drive all on their own. Our day always starts early, so with a hot coffee in hand we wander around the small mountain town boutique shops, always making sure we include a handmade fudge and a German Cuckoo clock shop visit.

Once we realise we have nowhere in our home to place a cuckoo clock, we head to Curtis Falls. The walk down to the falls is easy for the whole family and once there you will see why the tranquil rock pools and cascading waterfall are one of the most visited in the area.

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On our way back down the mountain, we always stop for lunch at the Eagle Heights Pub, which has stunning views of the coast while you sit back with a cold drink and yummy chicken parmigiana. Every Saturday they also have a kids’ jumping castle out on the lawn so they can sit back and relax even longer before the drive home.

4. The shopping centre you should visit.

 

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The Gold Coast is very much blessed with amazing weather, but for those times it does rain or it’s just too hot you need to find a place to escape to. Pacific Fair is the biggest shopping centre with more than 400 stores, with cinemas, restaurants and fun kids’ activities, especially over the summer holidays.

My daughter loves Play Street, where you can climb through different obstacle areas, or if your child is a little younger the interactive toddler room is just as fun. The centre has a few cool play areas situated right next to cafes for the all-important caffeine.

5. Dine the Gold Coast way – at a local surf club.

Coming to the Gold Coast you are spoilt with so many amazing restaurants but the one venue you will always find us at is one of the local surf clubs.

They cater perfectly for the family and you can always go for a nice beach walk before or after to burn off that delicious food. My favourite is the Kurrawa Surf Club, which has recently been renovated. You can even grab breakfast barefoot in the downstairs open-air cafe – true Queensland style.

What are your tips for the best things to do with kids on the Gold Coast?

Feature images: @champagnedadstyle.

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Enjoy BIG moments with Australia's BIGGEST Annual Pass to Australia's BIGGEST Theme Park. Buy your Dreamworld Annual Pass online and enjoy 13 months entry to Dreamworld, WhiteWater World and SkyPoint Observation Deck.

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