Where is it: Hamilton Road, Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast
Why we love it: Fantastic views from one of the tallest residential towers in the world - it’s Gold Coast’s highest attraction!
Tell me more: Queensland’s Gold Coast is one of Australia’s premiere tourist destinations, and it’s right on Brisbane’s doorstep - just an hour’s drive south. It takes something special to stand out here, but rather than try to give you just one thing special, SkyPoint gives you everything that Gold Coast has to offer with its amazing views over the whole city! Your admission gives you access to floor 77 of Australia’s tallest tower and from here you you get to see the amazing beaches and skyline that the Gold Coast is renowned for - the views are simply spectacular! There is a restaurant and bar on the floor as well, so if you are looking for some nice views with your meal, it doesn’t get much better than this. If you are feeling a tad more adventurous you can even try out SkyClimb, walking on the outside of this amazing building to take your experience to an even higher level!
This summer we were treated to a little more than the gorgeous views with something much sweeter with Skypoint’s Summer Sundae Shop - an ice cream parlour 230 metres up! We got to choose from one of 5 magnificent sundaes (plus the option to design your own, or milkshake or ice block), sit down, chill out and enjoy the views. There are games and activities as well - it was the perfect way to cool down!
Summer Sunday Shop
Where is it: Tallebudgera Creek Road, Upper Tallebudgera (Gold Coast)
Why we love it: We love it when the journey is as fun as the destination - and this easy trek is fantastic!
Tell me more: Our National Parks here are fantastic - beautiful natural areas and many of these great spots have awesome facilities so that everyone can get in to see the best spots! But we also love finding some of the 'hidden' gems that are not so easy to get to. The Gorge Falls fits somewhere in between these - it's not that well known and there's no direct path or map to the falls, but it's not restrictively difficult to get to! The Cream Track sets off from the very end of Tallebudgera Creek Road. There's a small car park that no doubt will fill up quickly on a warm weekend in summer but there is are a few spots on the side of the road that you will be able to park.
From the car park it's a walk of only about 2 kilometres to get to Gorge Falls - about half on a rocky track and the other following the creek. It's not signed but it's not too difficult to find. The kids love rock hopping so they were more than happy with this walk! After about 20 minutes of walking we came across the falls - emptying into a lovely swimming hole! While not swimming, there are a few spots to sit down and enjoy the view (no amenities here), but it was difficult to stay out of the water. A few hanging ropes allowed the more adventurous to climb up the falls, however this was a little out of reach for our little guys.
A visit to the Gorge Falls was a lovely day out for us - it was a bit of an adventure but extremely satisfying when we reached the falls! The walk itself was lovely and the kids had so much fun!
Amenities: Nothing here past the car parking area! 👍
Cost: Completely free but you will need your own car to get here, and your own food and water! 👍👍👍👍
Parking: Very limited parking but there is room to park on the side of the road! 👍👍
Best for: Active and adventurous kids and those who love the outdoors! 👍👍👍
Summary: It’s a lovely spot but not the easiest to get to – perfect for an adventure! 👍👍👍
Hints: Do some research before you head off as there are no directions on where to go!
We like to think that we are pretty good at building a sand castle. Especially when compared to our kids' efforts. In all reality, that's exactly where we should leave our sand castle comparisons - slightly better than a 2, a 4 and a 6 year old. We have seen some sand sculptures in the past, usually partial views as we walk past of some very talented individuals putting together a sculpture on an event day with limited time, but we have rarely seen the finished product. We understand that they could be impressive, yes, but are they worthy of a specific, month-long event? We didn't know, so to find out we decided to head south down the M1 to Surfers Paradise to see what some sand sculptors can do - surely they can't be that impressive?
The Sand Safari is an annual event held at the Gold Coast at Surfers Paradise. It seems that they have a specific theme each year, a couple of years ago they had Disney characters. We wanted to go but we were having quite a bit of rain at the time and we thought that the sand would get washed away (apparently, no, the sand doesn't get washed away)! Last year the theme was DreamWorks Experience. Parents of kids under 20 will know the characters of the movies of Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to train your Dragon, and this year it's 'Mermaids and Mythical Creatures'!
Getting to the Gold Coast from Brisbane on any weekend through summer can require a bit of patience. That said, if you leave reasonably early you shouldn't have a problem. In any case, the traffic moves a whole lot better than it does on a workday during start and finish times. We parked close to Cavill Mall in a privately run, paid carpark which, compared to Brisbane rates, provides for a pleasant surprise when paying. On our way into the carpark, we got to drive past some amazing, giant, inflatable octopus tentacles coming out of one the motels - they kids were crazy excited when they saw this, although they did get a bit concerned when we drove close to them!
Well, what can we say. These sculptures were amazing! It's unbelievable that these artists can scrape, mould and manipulate the sand in the manner in which they do. All of the sculptures on display were equally impressive. There was also a number of little activities and sessions on to involve the little ones so they could learn how to do some sculptures themselves! They were help in covered gazebos so you could escape from the sun which was great. The kids really enjoyed it, but we could see from their sculptures that they were not too interested in following the instructions of the artist, but regardless they had a great time building a few sand castles!
We've really enjoyed our visits to the Sand Safari! The location is really well suited for this event and like we have already stated, the sculptures were amazing. There were enough activities and displays to keep the kids engaged and if that wasn't enough, you could easily wander across the sand for a dip! Us Brisbanites are really lucky to have such a variety of different spots to visit so close. We have no doubt that we will be back again in the coming years!
Amenities: In the centre of The Gold Coast so finding amenities shouldn't be a challenge! 👍👍👍👍
Cost: A little bit for parking, travel and some paid activities, but free to check out the sculptures!👍👍👍
Parking: Enough parking but be prepared to pay (but so much cheaper rates than Brisbane!)!👍👍👍
Access: Really easy to get around, the sculptures are all reasonably close together! 👍👍👍👍
Entertainment: The Gold Coast will always entertain! The sand sculptures, amazing as they were, were great to look at but not really that entertaining… 👍👍
Best for: Toddlers will love the characters of the sculptures while the older kids will marvel at the talent required to do them! 👍👍👍👍
Wildlife: Seagulls. That's about it! 👍
Summary: Well worth a visit as the sculptures really are that good! If travelling to get here it might not keep you engaged for too long so best if you can plan some other activities to make the most of your visit to Surfers Paradise! 👍👍👍
Hints: The sculptures can take a few days to complete, so plan your trip so that you can see the finished product!
2017 - Mermaids and Mythical Creatures
2016 - DreamWorks Experience
Where is it: Focused on the Gold Coast, but events are also on in Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville!
What's it all about: 12 days of free cultural events running in conjunction with the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games!
Tell me more: The Commonwealth Games is a huge sporting event involving the best athletes from across the Commonwealth, and in 2018 it's on here in Queensland at the Gold Coast. And while that's fantastic news for sports-lovers, arts and cultural events are not being ignored! Festival 2018 runs for the duration of the Games and there are some fantastic events on! We were lucky enough to catch a number of different events like 'Arboria - Architects of Air", an amazing inflatable maze of lights and colour, "360 All Stars" and their incredible tricks and stunts, the wonderful indigenous dancing storytellers "Our Corka Bubs" as well as some fantastic theater and craft! And that was just scratching the surface - it's a fantastic event and works so well running alongside the Games!
Where is it: Surfers Paradise Beach, Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast
What's it all about: Simple - build 3,000 sandcastles in an hour!
Tell me more: The Gold Coast is well known for its sandy beaches, so what better place to attempt to break the world record for constructing the most sand castles in one hour! It also fits in perfectly with their really cool Sand Safari which showcases amazing sand sculptures! The record attempt sounds simple enough, but the sandcastles have some strict specifications to be counted for the record - a conical castle 600mm high (that's a lot of sand to shovel!) with a formed castle turret on top - and it has to be perfectly formed! Thousands of people joined in to help - we were in a team of 5 that had to build at least 10 sandcastles and after a full hour of shovelling in the sand we were very relieved when the final hooter sounded! It was a really well coordinated and super fun day but after all of the hard work we came up short - there were definitely 3,000 attempts, but the strict specifications meant that not all were counted! It just means that we will have to try again next year!
Where is it: Pacific Parade, Currumbin – right on the beach!
What's it all about: The vision behind SWELL Sculpture Festival was to provide access to an art experience that allows for the appreciation of art while in the relaxed surroundings of a fun and familiar setting - the beach!
How can I join in: Come along for a look at any time to check out the amazing art work! You might also want to volunteer to help out or even purchase one of the sculptures!
Tell me more: The SWELL Sculpture Festival is a great initiative. Just like QAGOMA and their programs for children, this festival provides a great way to get your little ones to take notice of artwork in a way that is fun and comfortable for them! There are a number of sculptures right on the beach and the foreshore, and you can wander around at your own pace and take it all in. There's no problem with the kids losing interest either, as being right on the beach, there are plenty of distractions for them which gives us grown-ups a better chance to appreciate - something we don't always have the chance to do in a gallery! The sculptures here are really impressive as well - check out our gallery as our descriptions will probably not do them justice!
Where is it: Lot 2 Beechmont Rd, Beechmont QLD
Why we love it: It's a beautiful rocky creek and waterfall that has carved a heart shaped waterhole!
Tell me more: <NOTE: Generally open on weekends, access to the creek is currently off limits - the area is controlled by the Department of Defence who have removed public access indefinitely due to safety concerns.> This amazing creek and waterfall can be found just over an hour's drive south of Brisbane in the Gold Coast hinterland. You would be lucky to find this spot if you were not looking for it, there are no signs and only a small parking area off the road so it's very easy to miss (although on a warm day we're sure that you would see plenty of cars parked here!). And once you have found a carpark, it's a reasonably steep 15 minute walk down to the creek - it's not a simple walk, but we managed ok with our little kids so it's not overly challenging.
Don't be disappointed upon arrival at the creek - it looks like any regular creek - it's not until you cross over to the other side (you will need to get your feet wet) that you will see what makes this place so popular! Stand in the right spot and you will see that the clear, cascading water has created a large pool of water into the shape of a heart and it really does look magnificent! Some well-worn paths will lead you downstream from the heart where you can safely access the water and swim all the way back up to the heart (if you wish). With its rocky creek-bed and its crisp and clear water, Killarney Glen would be worth visiting in its own right, however add to it the lovely heart shaped waterhole, this really is a special place!
Amenities: Nothing here, you will be to be self-sufficient!
Parking: Quite limited so get in early to get a spot! 👍
Access: A little difficult but the walk down provides some nice scenery! 👍👍
Best for: Because of the access difficulties, this might be best for the older (over 5yo) kids! 👍👍👍
Summary: Access to this spot can be a little bit of an adventure, but if you have the opportunity to visit Killarney Glen, it really is worth it! Just the creek, surrounding scenery and clear waters would warrant a visit, however add to it the heart-shaped pool and it's a must see! 👍👍👍👍
Hints: It's hard to find formal information on the current opening status of Killarney Glen, so you might need to scour the internet and social media for up-to-date info!
Accessing the creek
On top of the bank
Inside the gorge
Downstream from the heart
What's it all about: A really impressive cultural centre that always has something fun to see!
How can I join in: Check the website to see what's on - they have some great shows on so book early so you don't miss out!
Tell me more: Gold Coast has so many awesome attractions that sometimes it's hard to know where to start! And we think that it must have been this competition for visitors that has driven Gold Coast to create such a really impressive arts centre! It's a really nice centre that attracts some great exhibits and events. With a theatre, gallery and family area there's sure to be something on offer for everyone! We were quite impressed with this facility, so we are really excited to see what's in store when the new Gold Coast Cultural Centre precinct is finalised next year - just in time for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games! One of our favourite events that we have attended was the celebration events for Play School's 50th Birthday which was a really special exhibit and we had such a great time!
Amenities: A great facility with full amenities, bar and café! 👍👍👍👍
Cost: A mix of free and paid events! 👍👍👍
Parking: Some paid and some free parking - expect it to be busy for big events! 👍👍👍
Access: Easy to access and wheelchair (and pram) friendly! 👍👍👍👍 Entertainment: Something for everyone! 👍👍👍👍
Best for: From the very little guys upwards! 👍👍👍👍
Summary: The Gold Coast Arts Centre is a great visit for both Gold Coast locals and those who can't get enough of their cultural fix from the other impressive cultural centres in the region! Even though we have Brisbane's excellent venues so close, we will definitely be visiting the Gold Coast Arts Centre again in the future! 👍👍👍👍
Hints: This is a really popular arts centre, so plan and book ahead! And there's also a little playground right next door as well!
Play School 50
Where is it: Heaps of different zoos
What’s it all about: A fundraising fun run to raise money and awareness for wildlife conservation projects.
How can I join in: Have a look out for the next Zoo Run at your closest zoo!
Tell me more: The Zoo Run is a really fun fundraising event. You can register for a 5 or 2 km fun run and all of the registration fee goes to the wildlife conservation. We went along to the run at Sea World at the Gold Coast, and it was heaps of fun! The run takes you through the whole park well before opening time, and for the cost of registration you get full access to the park, including 1 hour exclusive for the Zoo runners! The run itself was really nice - running through the park past all the attractions, so it was really good for us first-timers to Sea World as it gave us a good understanding of the park! We got to run past the Creatures from the Deep exhibit - some giant animatronic sea monsters - some real and some not so real, but the kids were not too sure about them and didn't want to get too close!
The track also took us past the ray tank, the sharks, dolphins and seals! We got a pretty good look at all of Sea World before we had even started - it was almost disappointing when we made it to the finish line, it certainly was a fun run! There were heaps of great costumes too - our little Crabby Fish team even managed to pick up a prize (thanks Zoo Run and Ginger Sports!)! We eventually recovered from our 2 km run (our team did more walking than running) and then we had a full day of fun at Sea World - this was a really great event and for a great cause as well, we will certainly be back again for more Zoo Runs in the future!
Our day at Sea World after the Zoo Run:
The Gold Coast is one of Australia's most loved tourism spots. It has fantastic beaches, great theme-parks and attractions and an awesome atmosphere to boot, so there is shortage of visitors to this great area. As Brisbanites, we think that we are really lucky to have the Gold Coast on our doorstep! But we are all about exploring. We like to seek out and experience the things that are not always so obvious from the well-advertised attractions. That's not to say that Hinze Dam is not well known around the area, it's just that it's probably not the first place that comes to mind when you think of the Gold Coast.
About an hour’s drive south of Brisbane will get you to the Gold Coast suburb of Advancetown, where Advancetown Lake and Hinze Dam (the dam is the wall that holds the water back, creating the lake) is situated. From the Gold Coast it's perhaps a half hour drive to the west. It's the main water supply for the Gold Coast and as the Gold Coast has grown, so has Hinze Dam. It recently went through a major upgrade which was completed in 2010, so the facilities are nice and modern. The drive down from Brisbane is generally quite easy, however as many commuters know, pick the wrong time - perhaps on a Saturday morning through summer, or through the week in the afternoon heading south - and you could be in for a long journey.
Once you arrive at Hinze Dam, you will find 3 main stopping points - up on top of the dam wall, a carpark with viewing area of the spillway, and further down there is a park, playground and barbeques. We started on top of the dam wall. Up there, there is an information centre and a little cafe which has some beautiful views out across the lake. It's open over the typical hours but best to check out their website prior to heading there if your main intent is to sit down at the cafe. I imagine that it might be reasonably popular through the warmer months too, and even more so if the water is spilling! The information centre is a great spot which provides some good information on being water-wise, as well as the history and engineering behind the dam.
Up on top of the wall you can walk out across the spillway which I would think most provide some amazing views when the water is spilling! The engineering behind the dam is pretty amazing to consider when you walk out there! There is also a nice park land up on top as well. While there's no playground, the kids had a great time just running around on the grass. There are concrete paths running through the area as well, so pram access would not be a problem. After a bit of a run around (we must have easily spent an hour up there!), we headed on down to see the spillway. There is a carpark and viewing platform and from here you can get a real sense of the scale of the dam - it really is impressive! There was no spill or flow when we were there but it must be quite impressive when it is flowing! Still, it's worthy of a quick stop off to check it out. The carpark is really close to the viewing platform as well.
Our final stop on our little sightseeing tour of Hinze Dam took us right down the bottom of the dam wall where we found a nice shaded playground, barbeque area, amenities and tables and chairs. The playground was a welcome sight for our boys who at 5 and 3 can only take so much sightseeing in one day. We relaxed in some pleasant surroundings, cooked up a few snags and enjoyed the tranquil setting while the boys played. The whole area is in a semi-rural setting so even though we were only minutes away from the Gold Coast suburbs, it felt like we were a world away. Nice and quiet - no traffic noise and a bit of wildlife (birds and lizards) made us feel like we were out in the bush somewhere!
All in all, we had a really enjoyable half - day out at Hinze Dam. The facilities are well considered and modern due to the recent upgrade. There are limited options for food, however the café is really nice for those not wanting to pack a picnic or barbeque. The only thing that may be a bit of a deterrent for visitors is that swimming is not permitted in Advancetown Lake. It might be a little difficult on a hot summer's day to explain to you little ones that they can't go in the water when there is so much around! But for us, the impressive views of the water, parks and structures, along with the barbeque area and playground provided us with enough enjoyment to ensure that we will be back for another visit sometime - maybe next time the spillway is flowing!
Amenities: Toilets and (lots of) drinking water available! 👍👍👍
Cost: Completely free unless you visit the nice little café! 👍👍👍👍
Parking: Lots of parking - it may get busy when the spillway is flowing! 👍👍👍
Access: Most areas are pram friendly! Due to the scale of the dam you will need a car to get there and get around! 👍👍👍
Entertainment: The information centre is worth a visit! Some impressive views and a great little playground! 👍👍
Best for: Maybe the adults will get more out of this one! 👍👍
Wildlife: Some birds and lizards around the picnic area - maybe some kangaroos around sunrise / sunset? 👍👍👍
Summary: If you are looking for something a little bit different to do at the Gold Coast we can really recommend a visit to Hinze Dam. It's maybe a bit better suited for the adults but our little ones didn't seem to mind and were suitably impressed with some of the structure! The little playground should tip this one in the favourable balance! 👍👍👍
Hints: Expect it to be reasonably busy when the spillway is flowing!
Brisbane Family Explorers