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10 Free Things to do on the Gold Coast

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by Sarah Says (subscribe)
I am a marketing and communications consultant and freelance writer. Living on the Gold Coast in Australia. Check out my website www.sarahsays.com.au or follow on Twitter @WENGoldCoast
Published August 27th 2012
What can you do for free on the Goldie?
It's great when, in this day and age, you can get something or experience something for free. It doesn't happen often, right?

During my time here and being on a budget, I am always on the lookout for cost saving ideas and tips to keep those dollars safely in my wallet and not flying out at an alarming rate. I partly blame my coffee and wine habit, but mostly I have no clue where my money goes, so knowing where you can go and what you can get for free is very useful.

I have recently been to two awesome free events, so I thought I would research a little further and put together a list of things, areas, places and experiences that everyone can enjoy, that for the most part are totally free.

So here you go:

Beach - An obvious one yes, but it really is an incredible thing to have, coming from the UK, I can vouch for how wonderful it is to have the beach just a few minutes away. How lucky we are on the Goldie to have miles and miles of beautiful, safe and clean beaches that offer stunning views at every turn, that is available everyday for free. My favourites in the Gold Coast are Broadbeach, Palm Beach, Tallebudgera Creek, Mermaid Beach and Nobby Beach and also Kingscliff Beach is well worth a visit if you don't mind the short drive to north NSW.

Beach at Broadbeach
Beach at Broadbeach


Green Spaces & Parks - On arriving in Australia and visiting loads of places on the Gold Coast, I was struck by the amount of green space there is available - but mostly how well they are kept, and that they remain largely undamaged and clean and tidy. There are so many parks, playgrounds and BBQ spaces for everyone to enjoy with great views and facilities where a family and/or group of friends can spend the day, kick a ball about or just relax with a picnic. They are great places to hold birthday parties or celebrations and best of all they are free.

Green Space
Green Space


One of the best parks for me is MacIntosh Tourist Park, located between Surfers and Main Beach, which is a beautiful place for a picnic and to explore.

A great one for the kids is the Broadwater Parklands which offers picnic and barbecue spaces, a rooftop terrace, fishing off the pier, swimming, and lunchtime sports on the Great Lawn. It also has The Rockpools water playground, wide open spaces for all kinds of sports, scooter tracks and a BMX circuit plus a playground and jumping pillow (like bouncy castle). All this is totally free. It's located off Marine Parade in Southport and is open 9am to 5pm everyday (Dec-March open 7am-7pm) but closed Tuesday mornings.

Jumping Pillow
Jumping Pillow


Nature - As well as all the beautiful beaches there are a number of lush green mountains, rainforests and bushwalks to keep you entertained. Dust off those hiking boots and set off for some spectacular views and sights. There are many on the Gold Coast that are sure to satisfy both beginners and seasoned hikers alike. Make sure you check beforehand the level of experience and equipment required before you set off, some are 2 hours but others are 10 plus hours. Yikes.

Check Out:

Federation Walk, The Spit, Main Beach

Springbrook National Park
Natural Arch, Numinbah Valley - Not far from Nerang, this has a spectacular waterfall and a cave with glow worms.
Burleigh Heads National Park
Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens
Lamington National Park - O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat

Culture - There are a number of places to visit perhaps when the weather is not so good where you can soak up some culture rather than some sun. For sports lovers try the Gold Coast Sporting Hall of Fame, Queensland's first dedicated sports museum which currently honours 33 Gold Coast Sporting Champions. Located in Southport´s Owen Park. It's open every Wednesday from 9am until noon and Sundays from 10am to 4pm.

Another great place which has a number of floors of free art to explore is at The Arts Centre Gold Coast, the gallery houses the renowned City Collection of contemporary and historical artworks plus runs a diverse and dynamic program of exhibitions and events from local, national and international artists. Located on Bundall Road in Surfers Paradise, it is open 10am to 5pm - Monday to Friday, 11am to 5pm - Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays. Look around by yourself or book a free tour.

The Arts Centre Gold Coast
The Arts Centre Gold Coast


Another place you can visit is Bruce Watling Art Gallery located in "The Brickworks" Southport. Offering over 1000 sq metres of space over two separate galleries, it is one of the largest galleries in Australia offering contemporary art, landscapes, Australian Masters, sculpture and much more. It's open 10-5 weekdays, 10-4 on Saturdays and is completely free.

Festivals & Events - There are so many festivals and events which are free to attend throughout the year on the Gold Coast. Broadbeach Alliance runs three events which are hugely popular The Broadbeach Jazz Festival in August and The Blues on Broadbeach Festival in May, both offer loads of stages of free music throughout a long weekend, plus The Broadbeach Christmas Carols in December, you can find out more about their events here.

Me at The Jazz Festival
Me at The Jazz Festival


There is the Surfers Paradise Festival that runs for a month between June and July, which celebrates everything to do with art, culture, music and food. There are stalls, street entertainer and a huge firework display over the beach.

In September, you have the Gold Coast Multicultural Festival on Sun 16 Sep, from 10:00am–4:00pm at the Evandale Parklands, in Bundall. This is free and celebrates the talents and skills of the local diverse population with shows, stalls and displays.

You can't come to the Gold Coast and not see some surfing, there are lots of free events but the main ones are the Breaka Burleigh Pro Surf Festival in February held at Burleigh Heads which is an excellent chance to see some amazing competition surfing up close for free. Then it gets serious at the Quiksilver Pro & Roxy Pro in March, the main surfing takes place at Snapper Rocks in Coolangatta, excellent fun and a great atmosphere. I got to see Kelly Slater surf in a legends event this year, which was amazing.

Quicksilver Pro
Quicksilver Pro 2012


There is also in May the Gold Coast Film Festival which shows a number of family films on large outdoor screens at the Southport Broadwater Parklands for free. Grab a rug, take some popcorn and settle in.

Check out too the fantastic Swell Sculpture Festival taking place at Currumbin Beach 14 - 23 September, 2012. This free exhibition is open all hours with a selection of sculptures being lit up at night.

Another place to look out for great free events is Bond University in Varsity Lakes. They have a series of events held at their amphitheatre by the lake - stunning views and free music from a variety of styles and genres. Coming up they have their Bond By The Lake 20's inspired event with cabaret acts, live music, village market, antiques, fun for the kids and roving performers. And yes it is totally free.

Sanctuary Cove is a beautiful marina and has some lovely free events that are usually based around public holidays and the time of year such as Mothers Day and Easter. They have activities for kids, competitions, stall, entertainment and more. Check out their events page here.

Easter at Sanctuary Cove
My Brother and Niece At Easter at Sanctuary Cove


Markets - You are really spoilt for choice on the Gold Coast for markets. There are so many craft, clothing, farmers markets, specialist markets and much more, you could potentially spend every weekend going to a different one. My favourites are The Oracle Farmers Market, Emerald Lakes Farmers Market, The Mummy Tree Market at Sanctuary Cove and The Art and Craft markets along the beach. Not only are they all free to attend and look around but quite often there are lots of free samples on offer. Yay.

Here is a great link, which gives details of all the markets up and down the Gold Coast with times, dates and locations. click here

The Oracle Farmers Market
The Oracle Farmers Market


Community - Check out local community centres, libraries and council run events and classes that are free to attend throughout the year. For example, Gold Coast libraries host reading weeks, art and craft fairs, talks, book signings and conferences all for free. In May they host a writing and literature festival called Literati which has authors, speakers, workshops, seminars and more. For all council run events including health and wellbeing events, literature, arts and music festivals click here where you can download a full calendar.

Most local community centres and libraries have a host of free stuff available from poetry readings, dance classes, exercise classes, learn a language, development courses, demonstrations and much more. Be sure to check the www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au website and grab their guide books and leaflets that let you know what's on.

Exercise - Okay, so maybe not enjoyable for everyone, but up and down the coast there are exercise machines and equipment that is free for everyone to use, plus loads of walking and cycle routes. They offer much better views than the rows and rows of treadmills that you get in the gym.

Gym at The Beach
Gym at The Beach


In Burleigh Heads, the Australian School of Meditation and Yoga offer free yoga classes by the beach every Saturday and Sunday. Get spiritual and refreshed at the beach for free.

Travel - Well not totally of course, but after 9 individual journeys (an hour apart or they are considered continuing and counted as one) when using your Translink go card you can. Take 9 trips from Monday and then after that your travel is free until Sunday. Make a few smaller trips using your go card early in the week then at the weekend use the opportunity to take the family to Brisbane for the day for free. For more info click here.

Deals - I am totally a collector of deals and offers and you would be surprised what you can get for free. I do like my coffee and I make sure to get those little loyalty cards that give you a free coffee after either 5 or 9 coffees. It doesn't seem much but I relish getting that free coffee, I really have put the work in.

Sign up for living social and groupon alerts which will let you know what deals are happening locally. Quite often there are buy-one-get-one-free offers on food, drink, sport, entertainment and beauty experiences. Always check the back of receipts from the likes of Woolworths, Big W and Coles as they always have deals on the back and some could see you getting a free breakfast or coffee. Other deals worth looking for are the early bird deals at most local restaurants often offering 40% off the food bill if you eat between around 5-6pm. Not completely free but still pretty great.

Also check out My Fun for group tickets and passes to all the local theme parks on the Gold Coast, it is certainly worth looking at what their deal of the month is (often buy-one-get-one-free) to save some considerable money on tickets as they are not cheap when bought individually.

So many possibilities, you just need to know where to look. I hope you find some of this useful and have discovered at least one new thing to do for free.

Useful Links:
gcparks.com.au
www.goldcoastaustralia.com/bushwalking.html
www.thegoldcoastdirectory.com
www.goldcoastaustralia.com
www.goldcoast.com.au
www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au
www.eventsgoldcoast.com.au
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Why? For Fun, For Free
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Your Comment
When was this updated???? That are activities from 2012!!!!! So disappointed I had already selected some of them when realised that the date are from last year!!!!!!!!!!! :(
What is going on this year with the Gold Coast activities???
Thanks,
Gabby
by gabri (score: 0|6) 1520 days ago
Thanks, Sarah. You've covered a lot!
Makes me want to get moving!
by Jacqx Melilli (score: 2|159) 1849 days ago
well done!!
by thema (score: 0|4) 1848 days ago
Broadwater parklands is a fave spot, especially when kids tire of the beach.
by Where I Holiday (score: 2|338) 1772 days ago
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