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Palm Beach Parklands

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by Sian Wattam (subscribe)
Sian is a freelance writer living on the Gold Coast.
Published June 7th 2012
On a weekend morning Palm Beach Parklands is a hive of activity. Joggers, cyclists, paddle boarders, swimmers, and dog walkers converge on the place for their early morning exercise. But strangely enough, even though you almost couldn't throw a stick without taking out an eye, the place doesn't seem crowded. Of course, if you're after deserted shorelines don't come here, but if you like the hum and buzz of likeminded people raising their heart rates then this is definitely the place for you.

Palm beach parklands - lagoon, playground, dog beach and cafe

A large open green space provides plenty of room to throw around a footy, spread out a yoga mat, or get a group together for some open air training. When the heart starts pumping and the temperature goes up, a few laps of the adjoining Currumbin Lagoon will soon cool you off. Or, if still-water gives your adrenaline-pumped body an attack of the snores, follow the pathway the short distance to Palm Beach and take on the Gold Coast's legendary surf – between the flags, of course.

The patrolled surf beach, south end of Palm Beach

Dog lovers are well and truly catered for at the parklands. Currumbin Spit, located between the surf beach and the lagoon, is a dog-friendly off-leash area of sandy tracks with a long section of lagoon shoreline designated for the pooch.

The off-leash dog zone is very popular

However, the opposite bank of the lagoon is a doggie no-go zone. A pathway takes walkers through native bushland of Tarrabora Reserve, one of the few naturally low-lying open forest areas fringing a popular sandy beach. Follow the path under the Gold Coast Highway and continue the walk along the Beree Badalla Mangrove Tree Haven Wetlands Reserve boardwalk alongside Currumbin Creek – a popular place to drop a line.

Paddle-boarders on Currumbin Creek with Tarrabora Reserve in the background

As the sun rises higher the exercisers are joined by families. Imagine if you will, a large pirate ship; yellow sails billowing overhead, shipwrecked against an outcrop of rocks and caves. Pirate treasure scattered in the sand waiting to be discovered, a call of "walk the plank, me hearties", cannons, lifeboats, and barrels strewn along the shore, and dozens of little pirates clambering over the wreck. The Parklands boasts the 2010 state Parks and Leisure Australia award in the play space category for its themed Treasure Island playground – makes me wish I was a child again.

Yoho, me hearty scallywags. Here awaits a great pirate adventuaaarrr

The lagoon is a great place for the littlies to play, the water gently laps the beach here, there's no huge surf to tumble them. It does get deep quite quickly though so vigilance is paramount. The sheltered estuary is also an ideal place to learn to paddle-board and Surfing Services Australia are the guys to teach you. Their stand up paddle lesson is designed to get you up and paddling on your very first day.

The lagoon is great for littlies to splash about in

The Parklands is dotted with tables and grassed areas custom made for a picnic blanket, many within hailing distance of the playground and lagoon. But as a treat for exhausted exercisers and parents alike the child-friendly Dune Cafe adds a touch of indulgence. Dune Cafe overlooks the large green space and has views down to the lagoon. The cafe is open for breakfast and lunch and I can fully recommend the coffee.

Great coffee and meals to be had at Dune Cafe...

...or spread out a blanket and bring your own fare

The only downside to the Palm Beach Parklands, as far as I'm concerned, is the parking. While there are several large parking areas flanking the park, they are not enough to cater to the many people wanting to enjoy the area – a small gripe that's easily fixed with a bit of patience or a short walk.

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Why? From fitness fanatics to little pirates, everyone loves the place
When: Anytime
Where: 945 Gold Coast Highway, Qld
Cost: Free
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