The Gold Coast on Queensland’s eastern and southernmost fringe is well known for having a multitude of spectacular beaches right in front of prime skyrise real estate. While those long stretches of golden sandy swimming heaven are rightfully the main drawcard to those visiting these parts, they aren’t the only thing this diverse coastal city has to offer. Check out my list of awesome free things to do on the Gold Coast:
Discover Elephant Rock & Currumbin Rock
Jutting out like nothing else on the Gold Coast lies two stunning rock formations that rise dramatically from the mostly undulating landscape. Both places about 500m from each other are unmissable features along Currumbin Beach and are spectacular places to catch the sunrise.
Elephant Rock provides lovely views of the surrounding landscape and is a great place to spot planes arriving and departing from the nearby Gold Coast Airport.
Currumbin Rock isn’t as easy to spot from the road, but the short walk through the sand is worth it as it is the Gold Coast’s most striking geographical feature along the coast and is not something to be missed.
Gaze Up and Down The Coast At Mick Schamburg Park Lookout
The suburb of Miami on the Gold Coast doesn’t have the same acclaim as the Florida of the same name and even though the area isn’t one of the Gold Coast’s more well-known places, there is something here worth stopping for; Mick Schamburg Park.
This awkward to get to park harbours an incredible, uninterrupted panoramic lookout that is one of the best free places to view the expanse of this beautiful coastal city. There’s three areas for viewing, one for the north, one for the north and east, and one for the south. It’s breathtaking up here and fantastic for photographing the skyline, the beaches and the whales and ships. You don’t want to miss this lookout.
Get Panoramic Views At Kirra Hill Lookout
Way down near Queensland’s border with New South Wales lies a hidden lookout with spectacular panoramic views. Casting your eyes to the north is an endless line of beach, ocean and undulating hinterland extending as far as the eye can see. To the south, Coolangatta Beach, Rainbow Bay, and Snapper Rocks.
A lovely place for viewing or photography of the surfer, dolphin, shark or whale variety, this beautiful elevated lookout also has a metal eagle with its wings spread watching over the landscape.
Whale Watch At Point Danger Light & Snapper Rocks
At the point where Queensland becomes New South Wales sits an unusual towering structure that marks the border as well as the serving as a compass.
As it’s a lighthouse, it’s got good elevation to prevent inbound boats dashing themselves to pieces on the rocks below which provides panoramic views stretching north along the sandy shores of the Gold Coast and south into New South Wales State Of Origin enemy territory.
It’s also great for on-shore whale watching during the seasonal months these majestic creatures come to visit thanks to its elevation and being the most easterly point on mainland Queensland.
A little north and a little lower on altitude lies the famed Snapper Rocks at the base of Point Danger. Prolific surfers love coming down here including World Champion, Mick Fanning for their fix but for those who are less talented with balancing on water, the rocky outcrop is a beautiful place with a semi-secluded feel to relax, unwind and watch the ocean tides.
Explore Lamington National Park
Green Mountains Section
The Green Mountain section of Lamington National Park is a treasure trove of beautiful natural wonders. With many walks of varying lengths and difficulties to pristine waterfalls and stunning valley lookouts, Lamington is a place that will draw you in time and time again.
Throw in a life-size replica the Airlines Of Australia Stinson that crashed in these parts in 1937, a treetop walk along a suspension bridge and an abundance of beautiful brightly coloured birds that you have the option of feeding, and you’ve got an unforgettable experience for everyone of all ages.
Walk The Hinze Dam
Bridging the gap between the coastal area of the Gold Coast, and the hinterland, Advancetown Lake a beautiful place to drop by. The Hinze Dam wall which cordons off the lake makes a lovely walk across the northern expanse while the beautifully groomed park in front of the cafe is a relaxing place to sit down and have a picnic.
Chase Waterfalls At Springbrook
Springbrook National Park (Springbrook Plateau)
Springbrook National Park is waterfall heaven! Not only does it have the most spectacular waterfalls in South East Queensland, but there are a bunch of them right next door to each other, so take your pick! Or take a few!
Purlingbrook Falls is the drawcard here, and with a newly installed suspension bridge dangling right in front of it, you get breathtaking uninterrupted views of one of Springbrook’s most beautiful waterfalls.
If you want to get a little closer to the action, the less well-known Rainbow Falls and Twin Falls allow you to get up close and personal with them by having the path take you behind-the-scenes and behind-the-“curtain” if you will, so if you don’t mind getting a drenching, these stunning waterfalls are for you! And cmon, we all know that’s half the fun!
Experience The Power Of A Natural Watercourse
Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park
On the road between Rathdowney in Queensland and Murwillumbah in New South Wales lies a unique waterfall that is the poster child of the Gold Coast hinterland.
The Natural Bridge is a stunning waterfall that flows through a cave from a gaping hole in its ceiling. Walking into the dark cave (please no artificial light) is simultaneously a magnificent and humbling experience. The thundering roar of the water as it splashes its way inside feels both threatening and relaxing at the same time. The sense of awe you feel while within its cavernous walls gives you an overwhelming sense of appreciation for nature.
It truly is a magical experience being inside such a unique natural wonder, and there’s no doubt that after visiting this place, it will become something very special to you too.
Take A Short Walk To Some Waterfalls
The mountaintop tourist town of Mt Tamborine has some lovely walks underneath its dark rainforest canopy, but none are as beautiful as the walks to Curtis Falls and Cedar Creek Falls.
Both are easy to access, a short stroll and flow year-round. They are ideal for families and those short on time and instantly make you feel like you’re a world away.
Watch The Sunset Over The Scenic Rim
Robert Sowter Park, Mt Tamborine
Sometimes labelled as “Hang Gliders” on some maps, this wide-open space that’s devoid of trees at the top of Mt Tamborine, is as the name suggests, for hang gliders. This space set aside for adrenaline junkies to take to the skies also doubles as an excellent place to observe the surrounding landscape.
It’s a beautiful spot to have a picnic (provides you don’t mind doing so at an angle) and watch the sunset over the western fringes of the Scenic Rim.
Find all the Borobi!
All Up And Down The City
2018 was the year that the Gold Coast held the Commonwealth Games! Even though the athletes have gone and the flame extinguished, there is one thing that remains to be spotted: the Commonwealth Games Mascot, Borobi.
Statues of the ridiculously cute blue koala adorned various parts of the Gold Coast. Some of them have since been moved the games to places unknown, but some still line the streets and can be tracked down.
A fun free activity is to spot as many Borobi‘s as you can. The young and young at heart will have a blast tracking down Australia’s favourite Koala up and down the coast. (And if you can’t spot the Gold Coast’s loveable mascot, you’re sure to find some of the uniquely painted friendly neighbourhood koalas that also take residence in this beautiful city.)
Binna Burra Section, Lamington National Park
The caves along this 3km scenic walk through Lamington National Park are not really caves. They’re more overhangs, but they are large and impressive. Standing beneath these massive, eroded cliff faces makes you feel small and appreciative of mother nature.
If you’re coming from the lower car park, the first unnamed cave greets you with a hole in the (rock) wall before opening up into a giant cannonball-like dent in a cliff face.
The second cave, named Kweebani is equally as big and impressive, is sandy at its base and resembles the open mouth of a fish ready to chow down on some dinner.
Both are beautiful in their own similarily distinct way that makes this one of the best walks in the Binna Burra section of Lamington National Park.
See The Gold Coast Light Art Installation
Pacific Highway, Yatala
Welcome to Australia’s silliest art installation. (Probably)
Okay, I’m putting this here for a farce. If you’re heading along the Pacific Motorway in either direction, you may notice a very tight-knit collection of street lights pointing perpendicular to the highway. What’s this, you may ask?
Odds are if you’re the driver, you will be utterly clueless. If you’re a passenger and turn your head in the nick of time, you may be able to make out that it forms the words “Gold Coast”. That is, providing you were southbound. If you were heading north, well, it’s just backwards.
This sign created for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games is ridiculous! The artwork itself is okay, but the placement of it makes you think it should be on one of those “You had one job!” lists because no one can see this properly!
Okay, that’s not true. A petrol station, a couple of backroad houses on elevated ground and some planes and drones can get a good look of this thing. I know because I looked… sigh. (I haven’t tried to scope it out on the other side of the highway because I wasn’t interested in seeing it backwards.)
While it’s not a destination worth stopping for, it is good for a chuckle as you drive past wondering why on God’s green Earth would you stick that there and not on, say, a bridge.
What are your some of your favourite places to visit for free on the Gold Coast?
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