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Australia Presents The Closest Thing To Paradise

The Gold Coast is 57km of water, sunshine, wine & dine

From Sydney’s glorious harbour to the Great Barrier Reef, from the massive monolith Uluru to the great coastal cities of Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane, Australia is full of unique attractions.

But a lesser-known Australia tourist hotspot is about to take its turn in the spotlight. It’s the nation’s fastest-growing city, though many outside the country don’t even know it is a city.

We’re talking about Gold Coast – affectionately known to locals as ‘Goldie’ – and you’ll hear a lot about it in the coming weeks as it prepares to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games from April 4-15.

The games were awarded to Gold Coast in 2010 and became a catalyst for dynamic transformation in the city of 600,000 that was once – and still is in many ways – a collection of surf villages on a 57km stretch of Queensland coastline.

Along with new sports facilities and a light rail system, there has also been an explosion of sleek new hotels, hip restaurants and night markets, micro-breweries and upscale watering holes.

“There is an unmistakable, life-affirming energy that lives here on the Gold Coast.”

When you add those developments to a place that enjoys nearly 300 days of warm sunshine each year and is located nearby 100,000 hectares of World Heritage-listed rainforest, the result is a destination that deserves more attention, according Michael Thurston, Marketing Manager, Western Hemisphere for Gold Coast Tourism.

“What makes us stand out from the crowd in an ever-increasing world of choice is our distinctive energy. There is an unmistakable, life-affirming energy that lives here on the Gold Coast, an energy that promises to ignite, inspire, reconnect and make you feel alive.”

Thurston says the area offers more attractions than any other destination in the southern hemisphere. “The Gold Coast offers the best of Australian experiences in one stunning location. With short driving times, you can enjoy the best beaches, eclectic beach villages, stunning hinterland, iconic Aussie experiences and a genuine classic surf culture.”

Australians know a good thing when they see it. Gold Coast is the country’s most popular domestic destination. “We must be doing something right for Aussies who are famed for their lifestyle wanting to visit here year on year and with over a million international visitors annually the appeal is certainly not restricted to the locals.”

Thurston offers a quick tour of the distinct ‘neighbourhoods’ that make up Gold Coast:

SURFERS PARADISE

The most familiar Gold Coast name for an international audience is Surfers Paradise, a seaside resort since the 1920s. Known as an entertainment playground famous for nightlife venues, international events and vibrant atmosphere, Surfers is eclectic and energetic. The oceanfront bustles with walkers, cyclists and skateboarders enjoying a vista of surf and sand. Thurston says Surfers Paradise comfortably maintains its position as the good-time hub of the Gold Coast.

BROADBEACH

For those seeking a little more refinement, Thurston says Broadbeach offers excellent dining, shopping and art. “Broadie,” as the locals call it, boasts beautiful beaches surrounded by parks, enlivened by weekend markets and weekday yoga classes. Broadbeach Mall is a great place to wander, peppered with roving street artists and framed by alfresco dining – with choices including everything from gourmet delis to bistros and brasseries.

BURLEIGH HEADS

With a hip and happy vibe, Burleigh Heads is ideal for young adults. A beautiful beach, eclectic dining and a tasty craft brewery scene marks the spot. Thurston says surfers and avid swimmers love the location, because, on a day when it might be a little choppy everywhere else along the Coast, there’s likely a protected corner at Burleigh in which to dip. For landlubbers, Burleigh Heads National Park wraps around the headline, offering views of the ocean and wildlife sightings along its walking trails.

SOUTHERN GOLD COAST

Travellers looking for a more relaxed pace in which to enjoy the ultimate beach lifestyle can take the short drive to the Southern Gold Coast. Here, Thurston says, visitors soak in the views of Surfers Paradise skyline in the distance and simply slow down. Snapper Rocks is the Gold Coast’s most popular surf beach.

With new direct Air Canada flights between Vancouver and Brisbane – a one-hour drive from Gold Coast -- and good flight options from the U.S. via Qantas, Virgin Australia and Hawaiian Airlines, Thurston says this not-just-for-surfers-paradise is more accessible than ever to Canadians. He understands that most will come as part of a wider Australian journey, but believes the destination is becoming a ‘must-do’ element of a down under tour.

“We know that 80-90% of our business from Canada is part of a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and we’re a perfect complement to an Aussie itinerary. It doesn’t have to be a long stay, but we’ll make it a good one.”

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