The Gold Coast, Australia

Description of the Gold Coast, Australia's top coastal tourist strip

The Gold Coast is the most popular coastal tourist strip in Australia and is visited annually by millions of domestic and overseas holiday makers. Once a barren swamp and flood plain, the region is now one of the nation's fastest expanding regions bristling with highrise hotels and apartments, busy surfing beaches, theme parks and many other holiday attractions.

Located in the south-east corner of the State of Queensland, 80km from the State capital of Brisbane, the Gold Coast is defined as a city yet is an area containing several towns such as Surfers Paradise, Southport, Broadbeach and Coolangatta.

It has a 42km coastline and extends into a deep hinterland of lush hilly vegetation that includes extensive rainforest. The northern beaches are straight but at the southern end at places like Burleigh Heads and Coolangatta beaches are curved and bay-shaped and provide spectacular views.

Most tourists head for Surfers Paradise which has the main nightclub scene and which has become a focal point for the many big international events staged on the Gold Coast, such as Indy. At nearby Broadbeach major attractions include Jupiter's Casino, the Oasis shopping complex and mall and Pacific Fair, a shopping venue as big as a small town.

With a resident population of under 400,000 the Gold Coast boasts the highest number of shopping complexes and golf courses per head of population in the world - and they are still building more.

It also has a high density of retirement homes, villages and resorts, probably due to the low cost of property compared to other cities like Sydney and the warm and sunny semi-tropical climate. There are over 1000 restaurants catering for every taste and over 200 parks all with free barbecue facilities and other amenities like hot water and toilets.

Every type of accomodation is available on the Gold Coast from five-star hotels and apartment blocks to caravan parks and house boats. Holiday renting of fully equipped self-catering seaside apartments is particularly popular. Other accomodation alternatives include countryside cottages and living on farms.

As well as beaches and theme parks like Sea World, Movie World, Dreamworld and Wet and Wild, the Gold Coast provides many attractions that include water sports, scuba diving, fishing and boat cruises either along the coast or on the city's extensive canal network.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the coastal scene, holidaymakers can tour the Gold Coast hinterland interior and experience some real Australian countryside and wildlife like koals, kangaroos and emus. In the country areas there is also a chance to explore local crafts and markets.

At Carrarra, not far from the casino at Broadbeach, the huge Country Hinterland market is staged every Saturday and Sunday, offering a wide range of local foods and goods.

The Gold Coast has its own airport at Coolangatta from where it is about a half-hour's drive to Surfers Paradise. In addition to buses, there is a taxi service that is second to none. The Gold Coast is about one hour's flight time from Sydney.

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