Gold Coast: Across the Ditch

If you’ve done the theme parks, or want to avoid them, here are a few other ideas for cheap family fun on the GC.
O'Reilly's Tree Top Walk lets you wander through the canopy suspended 15m above the ground. Photo / Tourism and Events Queensland
O'Reilly's Tree Top Walk lets you wander through the canopy suspended 15m above the ground. Photo / Tourism and Events Queensland


There's no better way to see Lamington National Park than from its canopy of flowering and fruiting trees. O'Reilly's Tree Top Walk at Canungra is a boardwalk suspended 15m above the ground, and you can walk along its 180m for free.


For a taste of Australia's flora and fauna, the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has it all, and is about five minutes from the airport. You can get up close with koalas, kangaroos, see wild lorikeets fed, and enjoy a free-flight bird show and sheep shearing. There are performances by Aboriginal didgeridoo players and dancers, a treetops ropes course, an outdoor adventure playground, and the chance to see vets in action. Holiday programmes are available.


Something special in the Springbrook National Park, 30 minutes southwest of the Gold Coast, is the Natural Bridge rock formation. Formed by the force of a waterfall over the erosive basalt cave, the bridge is an easy 1.5km circuit through ancient Gondwana rainforest from the Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd car park. You'll see plenty of koalas and birdlife, and rare and threatened species like the cascade tree frog, tusked frog and sooty owl. At night you can join a tour to see glow-worms and microbats.


There are 36km of beachside cycle trails on the GC, which go from The Spit in the north to Coolangatta in the south. Along the way you can stop and explore mangroves, beaches and headlands. Hire a bike and helmet from Get on Your Bike ( or Action Outdoor Hire (, pack a picnic and get on the move.


The central Broadwater Parklands have something for everyone but the big drawcard for families are its new Rockpools - ideal on those steamy summer days. The sculptural water playground features fountains and vibrant marine-themed equipment, and includes a creek bed and several tidal rockpools for children to have fun exploring. There are lifeguards on duty during opening hours, and best of all, the playground is free.

- NZ Herald

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