Entertaining the kids is as easy as G-O-L-D-C-O-A-S-T
G is for GCCC Active & Healthy Program Active and healthy kids are happy kids. Every year the Gold Coast City Council publishes the Active & Healthy booklet, a list of free and low cost activities that run regularly around the city. There are always loads of fun things for kids to do: movies under the stars, cooking classes, sustainable gardening workshops, African drumming and dancing, craft in the park, bird watching, reptile awareness, yoga, music, boxing, kung fu, and more. Kids can meet people, learn skills, and discover new interests.
O is for Ocean and Beaches The Gold Coast boasts over 30 kilometres of beaches (over 50 kilometres if you count the beaches of South Stradbroke Island). This makes for one long, salty, sandy wonderland for kids. There's a beach for every occasion. Palm Beach, Coolangatta, and Burleigh are a few of the best beaches. Kids can learn to surf, become lifesavers, or help care for their local beach by joining BeachCare on the dunes most weekends. Remember: Always, always, always swim between the flags; lifesavers can't save you if they can't see you.
Where: Click here to locate a patrolled beach Cost: FREE to visit the beach and swim in the ocean
L is for Library A library card is an invaluable parenting tool. It is gold, the key to free access to books, DVDs, magazines, computers, wifi, and online resources. But even if you don't have a library card, your kids can still enjoy the activities offered by the Council through its library service. There are activities for children of all ages; for example: baby rhyme time and story time sessions, reading and astronomy clubs, yoga classes, art and design workshops for teens. Check out the library's Calendar of Events for details.
Kids will be amazed by the remarkable native Australian animals they'll meet at this wildlife park. There are platypus, greater bilbies, cassowaries, Julia Creek dunnarts, tree kangaroos, mahogany gliders, and more. The Park runs daily wildlife presentations, as well as school holiday programs such as the Wildlife Ranger Experience where kids can encounter animals up close and discover what goes on behind the scenes of the Park. It's the kind of place you find yourself returning to regularly, so buy a yearly pass; you'll get your monies' worth if you visit more than twice a year.
C is for Creeks
The Gold Coast is not all about ocean and beaches; it has lovely inland waterways too. Currumbin Creek and Tallebudgera Creek are the big names; both offer calm water, shaded picnic areas, and sandy beaches. Kids can swim, stand up paddle, kayak, or seek their fortune at Treasure Island at Palm Beach Parklands. If your family enjoys an exploration, then grab a map and follow either of the creeks upstream; you'll discover shady banks and little swimming holes, including Currumbin Valley Rock Pools.
Where: Tallebudgera Creek, Currumbin Creek
O is for Offshore Activities
Take your kids offshore; it'll be a day to remember. Fun activities for kids are fishing, diving, snorkelling, sailing, and whale watching. You don't need your own boat; find a tour operator on the Gold Coast Tourism website and join a full or half day tour.
Where: Most tour operators work out of the Southport Seaway or the Tweed River
A is for (The) Arts Centre Gold Coast
It is said that everyone is born an artist. Kids can explore their creativity, and develop a love and appreciation of art in the gallery, theatre, showroom, and cinema of the Arts Centre. The gallery houses a permanent collection of artworks relevant to life on the Gold Coast; it also hosts local, national, and international exhibitions. Subscribe to the Art Centre's eNews to find out about upcoming activities for kids, including art, drawing, and acting workshops, stand-up comedy, musicals, theatre productions, and film nights.
When: The gallery is open Monday to Friday 10am-5pm, and Saturday & Sunday 11am-5pm
Where: 135 Bundall Road, Surfers Paradise
Cost: FREE to enter the gallery (donations are appreciated); the cost of workshops, events, and shows vary
Stand up paddle at Currumbin Creek or Tallebudgera Creek
S is for Skate and BMX Parks
The Council maintains 16 skate and bmx parks throughout the Gold Coast. There's something for all levels of boarder, blader, skater, and biker: freestyle bmx tracks, plazas, bowls, half pipes, double bowls, stairs, tunnels, even a "death bowl". Keep an eye out for the free skate and bmx events and workshops offered by the Council through its Vibe Youth Program.
Where: Click here for park locations and facilities
T is for Theme Parks
Theme Park. What words spring to your mind? Fun? Tacky? Hot? Crowded? Queues? Queasy? Regardless, whatever you think of theme parks chances are your kids love them. On the Gold Coast we are spoilt for choice: Dreamworld, Seaworld, Wet 'N' Wild Water World, Movie World, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Whichever you choose, your kids will sleep well that night; this fact alone might make the experience worth it.
When: Visit the websites for opening hours
Where: Click here for a map of Gold Coast Theme Parks
Cost: Check the websites - the most expensive option is to buy individual tickets at the gate; the best value for money option is to buy an annual pass or a multiple park pass
Websites: www.dreamworld.com.au, www.themeparks.com.au, www.cws.org.au