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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Planning A Holidays In Gold Coast, Australia


This post is specially dedicated to vacationers planning a holiday in Gold Coast, Australia but just don't know how and where to start.

Paying for a fully guided tour from your country of origin may save you a lot of hassle but nothing is like exploring Gold Coast on your own. Being fully in charge not only saves you the heartache of spending time in places that least interest you but also gives you the liberty to do all the things you'd wanted to do to make your holidays a really unforgettable one.

I have just returned from Gold Coast and hope this series of posts would be helpful if you are a first time visitor planning your own holiday there. Do click on the various links to see my personal review on some of the attractions and places I've been and the hotel I stayed in.

1. Where To Stay? 
Gold Coast is a metropolitan region located in the state of Queensland. It is about 100km south of Brisbane and is served by its very own airport, Coolangatta Airport. (which is different from Brisbane Airport). 
It is made up of 10 districts and approximately half of Gold Coast is covered by forests.
Unless you are planning a quiet hideaway, an ideal place to stay would be one that has easy access to public transport, close to shops, supermarkets, eateries, food courts, the beach, local attractions and local travel agents. One such place is Surfers Paradise (one of the districts in Gold Coast). It is the most happening place and a place you wouldn't feel bored for sure.
Now Surfers Paradise is quite a long stretch of land so let me zoom in on the area that would save you money coz'  you can just walk to most of the places mentioned above.
Accommodation around these streets - Cavill Avenue, Elkhorn Avenue, Beach Road, Hanlan Street, Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Orchid Avenue, or the stretch of Esplanade near these streets are the best places to stay as they are very close to the 'Heart of Gold Coast'.
More than a dozen such accommodation are listed below. (I could have missed out on a few).

1.   Tiki Village International Resort - Click to see my review
2.   Vibe Hotel 
3.   Waterways Luxury Apartment
4.   Islander Backpackers Resort
5.   Hotel Grand Chancellor
6.   Beachcomber Resort
7.   Chevron Towers Resort
8.   Mantra Towers of Chevron
9.   The Sands Apartments
10. Zenith Ocean Apartment
11. Surfers Int. Apartment.
12. Moorings On Cavill
13. The Clock Hotel

Except for Tiki Village, the accommodation listed above are recommended based only on good location. Other aspects of these accommodation are unknown to me.

2. How To Get To Your Accommodation in Surfers Paradise from Gold Coast Airport?
The distance from Gold Coast Airport to Surfers Paradise (depending on which part you stay) is approx. 20km and there are 3 main options to get to your accommodation.

Main Option 1: Taxi  
This is the most expensive option especially if you are a single traveler or even if you are travelling as a twosome. If you are a foursome, each with his own 'big luggage' this option is almost impossible too even though it may not be that expensive when the fare is shared out.

Main Option 2: Gold Coast Tourist Shuttle
The tourist shuttle bus will bring its passengers right up to their accommodation (or very close to it). It is also cheaper than the taxi and this is the option we chose. A kiosk is set up at the arrival hall of the airport and booking can be made there. The bus would be waiting just outside the airport.

Cost: AUD 21/per adult/per way. 
         AUD41/pp if you buy a return transfer saving 1AUD

(This shuttle service is very reliable and picked us up on time at 6.17am when we checked out at the end of our holidays).
Top: GC Tourist Shuttle Kiosk  &  Bottom: GC Tourist Shuttle Bus

Main Option 3: Take the TransLink public transport which may involve more than one transfer and some walking. An option would be to catch Bus No 777 near the airport to Broadbeach South Bus Stop B, then walk a short distance of 191m to Broadbeach South Tram Station. From here take the tram to Caville Avenue Tram Station. Lastly you still need to walk to your accommodation which could be ???? metres away. (I'm already tired out even before considering this option)

Cost: AUD 5.96/way if you purchase a Go Card or pay 30% more if you purchase paper tickets.
The 3rd option is very inconvenient and few would opt for this unless their budget is so tight and they do not have bulky luggage.

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Things To Do In Surfers Paradise.

1. Take A Cruise Along Nerang River, Gold Coast Waterways, Canals And Broadwater.
There are 2 main cruises operating and the piers from which they depart are an easy walking distance if you stay in the accommodations mentioned above. The Wyndham Cruise and Bluewater Cruise both ply similar routes and their ticketing booth are just next to each other(a few steps away from Tiki Village International Resort) There is the option of taking the Morning, Lunch, Afternoon or Sunset Cruise, with the Lunch Cruise and Sunset Cruise being the more expensive. Generally Wyndham cruises are more expensive than Bluewater cruises and there are some differences in the food menu provided. I took the Bluewater Lunch Cruise(click to see review and photos)


2. Visit Gold Coast Markets
Talking about markets, the ones in Gold Coast are a far cry from the wet markets available in SE Asia. They are more like the Malaysian Pasar Malam (night markets) where stalls are temporarily set up to display wares or produce unique to the market theme. 
The more popular markets in Surfers Paradise are Carrara Market and Surfers Paradise Beachfront Market. If you are staying in Surfers Paradise the only market you can probably visit without transport is the Beachfront Market which is held three times a week. Since this is so near where I stayed I visited it 3 times during the duration of my stay. Click here to see my review on Surfers Paradise Beachfront Market.
There is a list of other markets further away but these are not open every day either. To visit these market you may have to use the tram and buses or a combination of both. 
For a full list of available markets, check out this website. http://www.visitgoldcoast.com/inside-stories/posts/postid/2/gold-coast-markets

3. Take A Walk Along The Esplanade, Swim, Surf, Or Picnic At Surfers Paradise Beach. 
These activities are totally free but not less enjoyable. If you are staying at the
accommodation mentioned above, the beach and Esplanade are just a short walk away. Click on Surfers Paradise Beach & Esplanade to find out more.
Surfers Paradise Beach

4. Explore The Streets Of Surfers Paradise, Shop And Dine.
Surfers Paradise is the hub of commercial activities in Gold Coast. It is a paradise not only for surfers but avid shoppers and diners as most shops, restaurants, shopping malls and supermarkets of Gold Coast are concentrated here. For diners, there is multi cultural cuisines to choose from. From budget meals to fine dining, you can walk the city to explore the options. Click to read more here: Exploring The Streets Of Surfers Paradise: Shopping & Dining...

5. Learn To Use The TransLink Planner To Visit  Places Of Interest 
There are places of interest and Gold Coast attractions that cannot easily be reached on foot if you are staying in Surfers Paradise. Taking the taxi may be fast and convenient but it may also cost you a bomb. To save on transportation expenses and to minimize travelling time, it is imperative to learn how to use the TransLink Journey Planner. TransLink is an agency that coordinates and integrates bus, ferry, tram and train services around Gold Coast (and other parts of Australia). 
Fortunately though, Australia has one of the most efficient and reliable transport system in the world. Public transportation, be it trams, buses, trains or ferries are usually punctual to the dot and make very frequent trips throughout the day. 
Translink transport will arrive on time even if it is empty

Places of interest/Gold Coast Attractions That Can Be Accessed Through TransLink Public Transport From Surfers Paradise. (The ones in yellow boxes are the ones I visited - click on to see my reviews)

- Theme Parks (Dreamworld, Seaworld, Movie World, etc)

- Gardens and Parks (Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens, Broadwater Parklands,etc)

- Shopping Centres (Australia Fair, Pacific Fair, Harbour Town, etc)

- South Port (Chinatown)

- Beaches (Miami Beach, Burleigh Heads Beach, Broadbeach, Main Beach, Currumbine     Beach, etc)

- Markets (Carrara Market, The Village Market, Gold Coast Organic Market, etc)

Currumbine Wildlife Sanctuary 

- Skypoint Observation Deck, Jupiters Casino,..

- Burleigh Head National Park 

- Others (personal preference)

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Tutorial On How To Use the TransLink Journey Planner

Let's say I am staying in Tiki Village International Resort and I am interested to visit Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens.
Click on http://translink.com.au/ and the page below will appear.



i) First fill in your starting point (see red arrow above). The hotel you stay may not be registered in the planner so you will have to find other landmarks which is registered. The best is to use a bus station or tram station as a landmark. Since Caville Avenue Station (tram station) is the nearest to my hotel I will choose that option as my starting point.

ii) Fill in the destination or place you want to go. In this case Gold Coast Botanic Gardens is registered in the planner.

iii) Fill in the travel day and time (This is to minimize waiting time) It's Ok if you do not travel at exactly the day and time that you've filled in. Use this planner as a rough guide.
  
iv) Click on "Find journey" button

The page below will pop up.
You can see three option/routes to get to this destination. Click one by one to choose the one that suit you most. Usually options with minimum transfers (meaning minimum no of time you have to hop onto trams or different buses) will maximize walking. I've chosen this option as I do not mind walking.
The ticket fare is circled in red. Using 'gocards' will save you 30% off the actual fare (paper tickets)
A return transfer using the same route will cost you the same fare. If I use 'gocard' I will have to pay AUD3.93 x 2 = AUD7.86 for this return trip. 

Lastly print out the detailed route. Below is page 1 out of 3 for the route that I've chosen.
On this print version, you can actually see the distance you have to walk, the total travelling time and the total no of transfers. You can manually print this out or save it into your mobile.

'Gocards' will save you 30% off all travelling fares but there are other types of cards or passes that can save you even more sometimes. When my total travelling fares for a day exceeds AUD10, I would buy the 'Go Explore Card' which cost AUD10 for unlimited travel on trams and buses (excluding ferry and trains)) within the day. However this card is valid only for 1 day.
Minimum purchase for a gocard is AUD10 and minimum top up is AUD5. An adult goexplore card costs AUD10 flat rate and can either be topped up for another travelling day or a new one can be purchased for the same price.
These cards are available at7-Eleven Stores, G-Link(tram) station, some bus stations, and selected newsagent.
You can get a refund for unused monies on gocards at Gold Coast Tourism Information Booth at Caville Avenue, Surfers Paradise or at Gold Coast Tourist Shuttle Bus Counter at the GC Airport but no refund for the goexplore unused monies.

To know more visit this website: http://translink.com.au/
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6. Visit The Theme Parks
Spending time in a theme park is a great way to have fun in Gold Coast. Since I have been to similar theme parks a couple of times in The United States, I decided to skip ALL theme parks for this holidays. Age is also catching up and theme parks no longer excite me the way they used to.
Below is a list of theme parks available in Gold Coast.
These theme parks are not located in Surfers Paradise and you will need public transportation to get there. (Refer to the tutorial above if you need help on how to use the translink journey planner)
  1. Dreamworld - Amusement Park & Wildlife Centre. It is also the largest theme park in Gold Coast. (Admission: AUD99)
  2. Warner Bros Movie World : (Admission: AUD79)
  3. Sea World (Admission: AUD79)
  4. Wet'N'Wild Water World (Admission: AUD64)
  5. Whitewater World (Admission: AUD49)
  6. Paradise County  (Admission: AUD34)
The admission fees quoted is the amount you'll have to pay at the theme park entrances and are subject to changes. You can save by buying admission passes from tour booths in the city which normally give good discounts. Look out for some combo packages or special passes which are value for money deals. Usually booking online is cheaper too.
     
7. Get entertained at Gold Coast  indoor and outdoor attractions.
There is an array of indoor and outdoor attractions that may help you pass your time in Surfers Paradise. These pay activities come in many forms: exhibits, entertainment, interactive amusement, adventure, etc
A few popular ones are Infinity Futuristic Maze,Ripleys Believe It Or Not, Dracula's Haunted House, Aquaduck Safari and 7D Cinema. Many of these cater for children and families with children have a lot of options to make their kids happy. These attractions are located near to each other and can be accessed on foot if you are staying around the area I suggested above. 
Some outdoor attractions that are away from the city are 'Watch Whale Cruise, Catch A Crab, Glow Worm Tour, Hot Air Baloon, etc (transport to these places may or may not be included in the passes purchased).
I only bought tickets to Ripleys Believe It Or Not. Click to see my review.

8. Visit Gold Coast Hinterland
Gold Coast is not all about theme parks, beaches or the glitz and glamour of city living. It does boast of an impressive range of rolling hills and hinterland mountains, lush rainforests, amazing waterfalls, verdant valleys and the peace and quiet of farms and country towns. A holiday in Gold Coast would be incomplete without exploring some of these Gold Coast gems.
Getting to the hinterland is however a problem as they are outside the TransLink Service zone. The most convenient way I can think of to visit these places is to join a day tour. 

There are a number of tour agents that operate day tours to the hinterland. This service usually include a return transfer from your accommodation but exclude meals.
Scenic Hinterland Day Tours offers a 'buy two free one' day tours. and charges AUD98.90-99.90/per pax. for such tours. Taking advantage of the 'buy 2 free 1', each tour would average out to be AUD67 which is quite value for money considering the mammoth amount you'll have to pay if you take the taxi or the hassle of finding the way if you rent a car and drive yourself.

The most popular destination in the hinterland:
1. Lamington National Park (click to see my review)

2. Tamborine National Park (click to see my review)

3. Springbrook National Park (click to see my review)

9. Visit Brisbane
Brisbane, the capital of Queensland is just 1½ hours drive from Surfers Paradise and it would be a waste not to visit this beautiful city. There are many tour agents that operate day tours to Brisbane but it is also feasible to go there by public transport. Greyhound operates direct bus services to Brisbane from Surface Paradise at AUD15 per way. Because of the time involved in getting around on our own and because we could get a tour at reasonably cheap rate, we opted for a guided tour from Scenic Day Tour. The highlights of this tour are as follows:
i)   Kangaroo Point, Story Bridge And City Drive Around (click to view)

ii)  Brisbane Botanis Gardens, Mount Coot-tha (click to view)

iii) Mount Coot-tha Lookout (click to view)

iv) Queen Street Mall (click to view)

v) South Bank Parklands (click to view)

Hope this travel guide around Gold Coast is helpful if you are planning a similar holidays there.
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Related Posts:
1.Tiki Village International: Review And Photos

2.Bluewater Lunch Cruise, Gold Coast: Review And Photos

4. Surfers Paradise Beach, Gold Coast


6.A Day Out Using Gold Coast Public Transport: Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens, Pacific Fair & Southport

7.Ripleys Believe It Or Not: Review And Photos

8.Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary: Review And Photos

9.A Day Tour To Lamington National Park And Tamborine Mountain Pt 1

10. A Day Tour To Lamington National Park And Tamborine Mountain Pt 2

11. A Day Tour To Springbrook National Park

12.Brisbane City Tour Pt 1: The Highlights

13.Brisbane City Tour Pt 2: Brisbane Botanic Gardens

14.Brisbane City Tour Pt 3: Mount Coot-tha

15. Brisbane City Tour Pt 4: Queen Street Mall

16.Brisbane City Tour Pt 5: South Bank Parklands

2 comments :

  1. All very good points to note!!! Looking forward to seeing what is in the baggies!
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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do keep on visiting this blog. Faryal Naaz.

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