Check out our guide to affordable Gold Coast experiences for when you are 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.
Where: O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Lamington National Park Road, Gold Coast Hinterland QLD 4275.
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.
Where: Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, 28 Tomewin St, Currumbin QLD 4223.
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.
Where: The Polish Place, 333 Main Western Rd, Tamborine Mountain QLD 4272.
Cost: Feeding the birds is free of charge however you must be a guest of the cafe so whilst you’re there enjoy a coffee and some Polish cuisine and watch the cheeky birds try and steal your sweets!
When: 10am – 5pm.
Where: Charis Seafood, 371 Marine Parade, Labrador QLD 4215.
Birds: Pelicans (don’t let seagulls steal your fish & chips from Charis Seafood!)
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 December 2018 for an adult using a go card for the entire trip along the G:link system (2 zones) is $3.25 or $2.60 during off-peak.
3. Experience the Skywalk on Mount Tamborine
The Skywalk on Mount Tamborine is set amongst the sub-tropical rainforests of the Gold Coast’s hinterland. It is spectacular and should be experienced by all. The walk begins as a gradual incline along an elevated stable metal walkway that climbs into the misty rainforest. After rising into the upper canopy the walk gradually descends to the lower parts of the rainforest where you can see waterfalls, rock pools and an abundance of butterflies.
Cost: Adult – $19.50 Child – $9.50 (5 years and under free)
4. 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.
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 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. Kids SUP clinics are available through the Active & Healthy Program during school holidays, at $15 per child.
Cost: from $25 per hour (various packages available)
These locations are protected from strong winds and tide and are great for first time paddlers. Stand Up Paddle Board hire is available daily by scheduled meet times and bookings.
Where: Budds Beach near Surfers Paradise and Narrowneck near Main Beach
5. Eat Fish & Chips at the Spit
Grab some fish & chips from Pete’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.
6. Grab an ice-cream 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 is located just below the hill at the Old Burleigh Theatre Arcade on Goodwin Terrace.
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 m to 54 km in length. Take in the views of spectacular waterfalls, including Purling Brook Falls, which boasts a new 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. Walk the sand-pumping jetty at the spit
The Gold Coast sand-pumping jetty is located at the Spit next to the sand bypass station at end of Seaworld Drive. It is an 800 meter long jetty that is a favourite fishing spot for locals. The jetty can be accessed for sightseeing and recreational fishing activities. Public access to the jetty is managed by the operators of the Seaway Kiosk.
Cost: Sightseeing – $2.20 Fishing – $4.40
*prices listed are correct at time of publication, December 2018.
9. Enjoy some great playgrounds
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.
The All Abilities Playground at Kurrawa 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, Cascade Gardens at Broadbeach (which includes a Liberty swing for children in wheelchairs), and Paradise Point Parklands, which has undergone a recent upgrade of facilities.