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A family walking along the Gold Coast esplanade

Gold Coast on a budget

April 2021

With more sunny days than not on the Gold Coast, the locals are known to enjoy the outdoors and why not? There are over 2,200 parks, 57 kilometres of amazing coastline, waterfalls and hiking trails in the Gold Coast hinterland with little hidden gems scattered in between.

We’ve put together a list of affordable experiences for you so you can get out and enjoy the Gold Coast weather on a budget.

1. Feed wild parrots or pelicans

The Gold Coast is home to a colourful array of birdlife, we are home to more than 357 species of birds. In the Gold Coast hinterland there are opportunities to feed an array of parrots including rainbow lorikeets, king parrots and crimson rosellas. Wild but tame pelicans can be fed daily from the Broadwater shores in the park next to Charis Seafood or take a drive through Currumbin or Tallebudgera Valleys and spot the locals.

O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Lamington National Park Road, Gold Coast Hinterland 

Cost: tickets $4 for bird seed tray.

When: Bird feeding area open daily from 10:00am – 4:00pm.

Birds: lorikeets, king parrots and crimson rosellas.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, 28 Tomewin St, Currumbin 

Cost: Free! (Feeding occurs outside the sanctuary so no entrance fees are required).

When: 8.00am and 4.00pm.

Birds: See colourful rainbow lorikeets by the hundreds.

Charis Seafoods, 371 Marine Parade, Labrador 

Birds: Pelicans (don’t let seagulls steal your fish & chips from Charis Seafood!)

Cost: Free!

When: Daily at 1:30pm

2. See the sights – ride the light rail

With a full length trip along the entire length of the Gold Coast light rail line costing just under $5 one way you can experience a lot for a little.

There are 19 stops along the line giving you plenty of options of places to see. Visit beautiful parks and gardens in Broadbeach, go for a swim at the beach in Surfers Paradise and explore China Town in Southport.

Cost: The standard fare as of April 2021 for an adult using a go card for the entire trip along the G:link system (1 zone) is $3.37 or $2.70 during off-peak.

3. Go stand up paddle boarding (SUP)

With 1 hour rentals starting at around the $10 mark, you can’t go wrong with a paddle in the sun on a picturesque Gold Coast day. The Gold Coast boasts more waterways than Venice so there are plenty of locations to choose from if you own your own. If you’d like to try before you buy SUP’s can be rented from numerous locations including Tallebudgeera Creek and Currumbin Creek.

Currumbin Boatshed

We think Currumbin creek is one of the best places to paddle in the world and is the home to SUP in Australia. Explore the beautiful water ways around the magic little creek!

Where: 2 Thrower Drive, Currumbin

Cost: $20/1.5 hours

Go Verticle SUP hire

Go Vertical Stand Up Paddle Board Lessons and Hire is a mobile Stand up Paddle business at various locations. They offer private and group lessons and SUP eco-tours. Social paddle groups are available through the Active & Healthy Program during school holidays, at $15 per child.

Where: Budds Beach Reserve

Cost: $25 per hour (various packages available)

4. Eat Fish & Chips at the Spit

Grab some fish & chips from Peter’s Fish Market on Sea World Drive, head up to the seaway, sit on the rocks and enjoy seafood by the sea.

Cost: Kids meals start at $4.50 and for adults there are a range of specials ranging from $11 to $16.

5. Walk the sand-pumping jetty at the spit

The Gold Coast sand-pumping jetty is located at the Spit at end of Seaworld Drive. It is an 800 metre long jetty that is a favourite fishing spot for locals.  The jetty can be accessed for sightseeing and recreational fishing activities. Make sure to grab one of the Seaway Kiosk’s famous crab sandwiches to enjoy on your walk, the kids will be happy with an ice cream and they even have your fur-friend covered with doggie ice cream, biscuits and doggie beef patties and sausages. It’s a win for all!

Cost: Free

6. Grab an ice-cream or gelato in Burleigh and sit on the hill

There’s nothing quite like enjoying a warm sunny Gold Coast afternoon taking in the views from Burleigh Hill. Watch the locals surf and paddle board and take in the beautiful skyline vista of the city and beyond.

Cold Rock Ice Creamery located on Goodwin Terrace

Burleigh Gelato Co. located on Connor Street

Scoop Gelati located on James Street

Tango Gelato located on the Gold Coast Highway

7. Visit Springbrook

Located about 800m above sea level, Springbrook offers world-heritage listed national park, with sections of ancient Gondwana rainforest that feature 2000-year-old Antarctic Beech trees.

The National Park offers a wide range of walking opportunities ranging from 300 metres to 54 kilometres in length. Take in the views of spectacular waterfalls, including Purling Brook Falls, which boasts a suspension bridge at the base of the 110m falls for great views upstream and downstream, accessed by a 90-minute circuit walk. Fantastic views back to the Gold Coast and down to Mt Warning are also on offer from various lookouts. There are some lovely picnic spots and Springbrook village offers quaint cafes, tea-houses and galleries. Camping within the national park is available by permit.

8. Enjoy some great playgrounds

The city boasts some fantastic (and free) children’s playgrounds including the popular rockpools in the world-class Broadwater Parklands.

The Palm Beach Parklands boasts a hugely popular pirate-themed playground – a large pirate ship, wrecked against a rocky outcrop, incorporates themed slides, spinners and rockers, with activities such as ‘walking the plank’, exploring for hidden treasure and musical play, all under the shade of a pirate ship sail.

Pratten Park offers an All Abilities Playground  which was designed with significant community input and caters to children of all ages and abilities in three zones – sandcastle, undersea and hill. Other popular parks include the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens at Benowa and Cascade Gardens at Broadbeach (which includes a Liberty swing for children in wheelchairs).

The Northern Gold Coast is emerging as the playground epicentre of the Gold Coast from the established coastal parklands of Paradise Point to the shiny new mega playgrounds of Pimpama, there are certainly plenty of exciting places to keep the kids entertained.

9. Stroll the city’s Botanic Gardens

Open all year round, the gardens offer something for all ages including your fur-friends. There are walking tracks that connect each section of the gardens; enjoy the sensory garden, smell the roses in the Rose Garden, explore the mangroves to mountain walk and watch the butterflies flutter by in the Butterfly garden. There is also a dog off-leash exercise area where your furry friends can socialise and have a swim.

With plenty of open space, you can set up a picnic blanket and kick back and relax with a coffee in hand while the kids play on the playground or explore the gardens.

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