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 October 15th 2014
Swim, Splash and Sunbathe
The Gold Coast already has so many fun things to do, so if you haven't managed to visit the new Gold Coast Aquatic Centre yet, then I highly recommend you make the time very soon. It's such a fun (and refreshing in this heat) activity and facility for families, mates, couples and kids, plus it doesn't cost a fortune.
The existing Aquatic Centre was being completely redeveloped and modernised to host the swimming and diving at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. However, the redevelopment was brought forward to host the 2014 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships and other competitions in the lead up to the games. It opened its doors, and lanes, to the public in September 2014 - and what a transformation.
It is such a brilliant facility, with pretty much everything you could want, depending on what level of fitness or swimming ability you have. Whether there for fun, or some serious training, there are plenty of lanes (which are bookable) and free swim spaces so that the casual swimmers and dedicated athletes, can each get the most out of their visit.
The all new and improved aquatic centre includes a 10-lane 50 metre competition pool, a heated learn-to-swim pool which is 0.9m, an elevated spectator concourse and viewing terrace, plenty of changing rooms including baby change and disabled rooms, a gym, a small splash pool, toilet facilities, sunbathing and green areas, meeting rooms and event facilities, a crèche, permanent seating for approximately 1200 people, an upgrade to the existing eight-lane 50 metre pool and an upgraded dive pool. There is also a fully licensed cafe and restaurant.
All the pools, apart from the heated learn to swim pool, are open air, however there are plenty of shady areas, large umbrellas and covers.
Learn to swim pool
It cost myself and my partner $5.40 each for adult admission to use the pools, my daughter being under 2 swims free, however children (2-14 years) pay $4 each for pool entry. There are many different levels of pricing depending on what you go there to use, or how often you want to visit. For example you can get an annual pool pass, full memberships or pay for one-off visits or classes. To see the full pricing and fees click here.
We took our 10-month daughter so it was mostly just the learn to swim pool for us, it is really warm and pretty shallow, with a step all along one side so it's easy to get in and out, if you are on your own and carrying a child. The kids splash pool, I think due to the constant moving water, is pretty cold, so don't do what we did and go to the indoor heated one first, as it makes the outdoor one even colder. The other lane pools felt heated too, they certainly had the chill taken off, although with the Gold Coast all-year-round sun, the cold water doesn't bother me.
If you want to start classes or lessons, they have number of programs and activities available including aqua aerobics, deep water running, diving, learn to swim, infant water awareness, massage and physiotherapy. Plus competitive, masters and triathlon squads are also based at the centre. To find out more about their programme of activities click here.
We went on a very hot Sunday afternoon, and although very busy, there is enough space and facilities for it not to feel too crowded and intrusive. I find this especially important with little ones, as you don't know what ability or confidence they have and you want them to be excited in the water, not overwhelmed, so a bit of space around you in the pool is good. Plus there were lots of lifeguards on duty, ensuring everyone was kept safe at all times.
My daughter loved it
Other facilities include a fully equipped gymnasium and crèche, which both open end of October 2014. I didn't get to see either area so I cannot comment on what they are like however, a great deal of money has been spent to get the aquatic centre up to international competitive standards, therefore I can only assume, the same applies for the gym and crèche too.
What I wasn't expecting was that there was lots of green sunbathing areas and benches for people to laze about on - I felt this is a great addition as it allows people to stay a little longer, as you can lay down and relax after a swim and sunbathe, rather than just rushing off. For those with kids, it is great to have somewhere to relax for a bit when the kids are in the pool, plus you have peace of mind that they are in a safe and secure environment. The beach is wonderful, but the sea is so unpredictable with small children.
Laze in the sun
We went to the cafe restaurant "Catalina" after the swim was really good, surprisingly good, I have to admit. It manages to fulfil two purposes - to be a pool side cafe offering hot chips, snacks, soft drinks and ice creams and road side a really great cafe and restaurant offering breakfast, lunch, coffee, cakes and beer, wines and spirits.
The restaurant offered dishes such as burgers, steaks and sandwiches, presented as well as any nice restaurant around the Gold Coast. Unfortunately we arrived just after the lunch service, so we couldn't sample anything but judging from the compliments and feedback I could hear, it must be great quality. I certainly want to head back to try breakfast or lunch. The restaurant side was well decorated and set out and had both indoor and outside tables. It also had a large covered green area complete with oversized been bag seats for kids to climb, or adults to relax in. We had a couple of drinks each, which were fairly priced and every staff member that we spoke to was warm, knowledgable and friendly. One even twisted my arm to trying of their cakes, apparently "the best on the Coast".
The very friendly lady who served us was telling me that in a few weeks, there will be a new bar area, as part of the restaurant, which will be open late, and offering stylish tapas and small share plates of food. So another facility to add to the already abundant list. Plus if the cheesecake was anything to go by on the quality of the food, then it should be excellent. They are currently open from 7am daily.
Located in the Broadwater Parklands at Southport, the main entrance is at the intersection of Nind Street and Marine Parade. The centre is it is pretty accessible by public transport including ways to get there by bus, train and tram. For a full list of ways to get there click here.
It is free to park for up to 2 hours, after that there is paid parking at $1.70 per hour. We were there for around 2 hours which was plenty of time to enjoy a look around, a swim and a couple of drinks in the restaurant. Although, you could make a full morning or afternoon of it - now we know more about what is on offer, especially the grass areas to sunbathe and the excellent restaurant, we will certainly take more stuff next time, so we can spend a bit more time there.
The Broadwater Parklands already has so many fun free stuff for the family with the playgrounds, rock pool play area and jumping pillow, and with this just down the road, it makes this area a very fun, and very inexpensive, place to visit.
Great view from restaurant
I am looking forward to heading back and possibly getting a membership, or booking into some classes.