Locals like to say you don’t live in Queensland for the summer, but the other nine months of the year.
While the southern cities are dialling up heaters and doubling down on blankets, winter days on the Gold Coast tick along in the balmy mid-20s. Even when the temperature dips, the waves don’t, lending the area a feel of endless summer.
The mild temperatures also provide a chance to explore the natural attractions of the region without drenching yourself in sweat. Head for the primordial green hills, check out attractions too packed during summer, or simply explore the region’s overlooked beaches.
To do that you need to be central. Start your experience at The Star in Broadbeach – it’s perfectly positioned to provide access to the area on foot, or by bike or car, as well as provide some of its own attractions, including new restaurant Nineteen, with its rooftop views and Garden Kitchen & Bar, and an on-site spa and pool for returning to after a long day’s adventuring around the region.
Drop your bags and set off – here are four local highlights to get you started.
Hike Burleigh Head National Park and paddleboard in Tallebudgera Creek
Burleigh Heads may be best known for its bustling restaurant, bars and cafe culture, but the southern suburb also boasts one of the easiest green escapes on the coast.
Park on Goodwin Terrace, hit the Oceanview lookout track and you’ll soon feel like you’re miles away from the city. The paved walk takes you through the rainforest and around the eastern edge of Burleigh Head National Park, high above the ocean. Stop at Tumgun Lookout, where during the winter you can sometimes spot humpback whales on their northern migration, before descending down the southern side of the head to Tallebudgera Creek.
This is where iconic Australian swim coach Laurie Lawrence used to set his charges against a foaming incoming tide. Don’t sweat it though: you’re heading to the protected waters on the other side of the headland, where you can hire a paddleboard and push yourself around in the shallows – the perfect post-hike cool down.
Fly across the Nerang River with a jetboard
No, it doesn’t look easy. But strapping a couple of water jets to your feet and powering above the Nerang River turns out to have a surprisingly gentle learning curve. This is Jetpack Adventures, a major draw in the Gold Coast’s reinvigorated love for offbeat exhilaration.
The concept is straightforward, if a little inspired: you ride a “jetboard” (similar to a stubby snowboard with a nozzle under each foot) powered by an operator on a nearby jet ski. The two are linked by a giant pipe delivering anywhere between 5000 and 9000 litres of water per minute – the force of which is enough to propel you metres into the air.
The jet ski controls the flow to the board so all you need do is focus on your balance. Your first couple of flights will end in inelegant splashdowns, but keep your knees locked and you’ll soon be gliding across the water like a pro.
Besides, late on a warm winter’s morning with the sun shining down, Nerang Creek’s emerald green waters are just a pleasant place to be.
Hit the mountain-bike trails in Nerang
Nerang is already a mountain-biking mecca, with kilometres of trails extending across undulating hills between Nerang National Park and the Nerang Forest Reserve. But the recent Commonwealth Games helped further activate the entire area, adding three new loop trails to explore.
The routes are a mix of fire-trail and single-track, suiting all levels of riders. On the quieter days you can pedal around the place for hours barely encountering another soul. The nearby Just Ride Nerang hires hard-tail, full-suspension and electric-assisted bikes, if you take your relaxation extra seriously.
Catch some rays – and maybe a little bit of surf – at Miami Beach
The beaches of Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach are the Gold Coast’s postcard image, where the Pacific Ocean meeting the city’s vertiginous skyscrapers in a glitzy study of sea, glass and blue skies.
But in winter, head to Miami Beach, overlooked by low-set sun-bleached apartments at one end and Don McSween and Mick Schamburg parks at the other. On a 23-degree day with the headland protecting you from any pesky southerlies, it’s the perfect place for a sun-drenched swim before lazing on the sand and warming your winter bones.
When you’re done, settle back in at The Star and enjoy the spas, bars, movies or live entertainment – with a wide range of discounts available for Star Club members. And don’t forget dinner: between the indulgent (and Instagram-friendly) rooftop restaurant Nineteen and the seasonally inspired Garden Kitchen & Bar, you’ll be well looked after.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with The Star Gold Coast.