Ask a local: Surfers Paradise

By Blainey Woodham

Blainey Woodham explores the best the glitzy, glam tourist magnet has to offer.

The view to Surfers Paradise from Burleigh Heads. Photo / Gold Coast Tourism
The view to Surfers Paradise from Burleigh Heads. Photo / Gold Coast Tourism

Origin of name: Surfers Paradise was originally called Elston before being renamed to attract visitors. The Gold Coast was named by real estate investors in the early 1900s, but the origin of its name is still heavily debated.

Population: The Gold Coast has a population of 513,954 and grows by 13,000 a year.

Where it is? The city of the Gold Coast is 65km southeast of Brisbane, in Queensland.

Famous locals: Tennis stars Sam Stosur and Bernard Tomic call the Gold Coast home.

Fancy that: Archaeological evidence suggests Aboriginal people had inhabited the Gold Coast for about 23,000 years before Europeans settled there.

Fancy this: In 1942 Americans commandeered Gold Coast beaches as rest areas for enlisted men during World War II. The five camps used cabins as kitchens, officers' quarters and sick bays.

Fancy place to stay: If you want to live it up, the top place is Palazzo Versace at Main Beach. It's head to toe designer, with world-class restaurants nearby such as Ristorante Fellini at Marina Mirage, although it will be hard to leave your room. Cheap, last-minute deals are often available online.

Best website: goldcoast.qld.gov.au.

Prominent industries: Tourism and retail, but surfing is up there too. The Coast also has the largest recreational boat-building industry in Australia.

Town Fiestas: Big Day Out, Surfers Paradise Festival, Gold Coast Film Festival and Blues on Broadbeach. Now a major venue for AFL, NRL, golf and horseracing, the Coast has the Commonwealth Games in 2018.

Best place to take the kids: Surfers Paradise has a great beach and Cavill Ave has several great attractions like Timezone and ten-pin bowling all in a two-minute walk of the beach.

Best place to get a drink: Broadbeach and Nobby beaches are the places to go. The Ark and Cambus Wallace rum bar are two fresh venues to grab a drink at in Nobbys.

Best food: For breakfast, The Pantry Cafe in Burleigh Heads offers great service with plenty of options at a good price. For lunch, Hugo's Burger Lounge at Nobbys makes gourmet, healthy burgers. Dinner at Bazaar Restaurant in QT Hotel, Surfers Paradise, simply can't be beaten for point of difference, food or value for money.

Best flat white: The Fishhouse in Burleigh is a great little wine bar offering a variety of wines and food.

Best museum: Gold Coast City Gallery houses the renowned city contemporary and historical collection.

Best bakery: If you want world-famous pies, a trip to Yatala Pies is well worth it. About 20 minutes' drive north on the M1 from Surfers, the stop-off on the trip from Brisbane is a tradition for many.

Best view: The view from the top of the Q1 building in Surfers is hard to beat; 360-degree view of the coastline and hinterland.

Best bike rides: The Gold Coast Hinterland offers many mountain biking trails that vary in degree of difficulty. An easy, flat ride from Surfers to the Spit is a fun expedition.

Best place to pull over: Drive up to Burleigh Headland for a great view and a stroll through the national park. It's beautiful, but busy all year round.

Best playground: Gold Coast City Council's parks have great playgrounds but Broadwater Parklands (Southport) is tops.

Here for a short time: For a taste of the Coast in the blink of an eye head from the airport to Burleigh Heads for excellent shopping, the beach, a national park, great food and culture that reflects the lifestyle-based Gold Coast.

Best adventures: The Coast offers more fun than almost any other Aussie city. Sea World at the Spit is a great day out. You can skydive with Adrenalin Skydive, try go-kart racing at Go Karting Gold Coast or hire a jet ski at the Spit or Broadwater.

Best swim: The Broadwater at Southport offers fun, safe swimming for the family but, if conditions are good, try the stretch of beach from Narrowneck to Miami for a body surf.

Wildlife: Springbrook, high in the Coast's hinterland offers rainforest full of wildlife, great views and swimming holes.

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