In February of 2012 I went on my first solo adventure to Gold Coast, Australia for a semester abroad at Griffith University and lived in an apartment complex called The Village. This trip was where I caught the travel bug that led to the direction of my YouTube channel GoFindMaria. It was the best decision I ever made going by myself. Just trying to experience a world of adventures I wouldn't have if I stayed in my bubble I call home. While I was there I spent 5 months in school 3 days a week and every weekend I was off exploring Gold Coast or taking flights or trains to nearby cities and towns to explore. After the semester ended all my international friends flew back home but I decided to stay another month by myself and backpack around. I went up and down the East Coast of Australia. Down below are the places I would recommend checking out! If you ever need any advice on your trip to Australia email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Neighborhoods in Gold Coast
1) Surfers Paradise
This was a GO TO place day and night when looking for the closest beach, shopping centers, nightlife and day drinking pubs. Imagine in the day time having an endless amount of options for restaurants and bars on Orchid Ave and Cavill Ave. Then as the sunsets and the beach-goers head home you see all of the clubs opening up and one of the greatest nightlife's for a young 20's crowd comes alive. Loud music, big lights and many dance floors and clubs to choose from. Then when you are done with the night you head to one of the kebab shops that are open all night - buy one and head to the beach. Nothing better than a night with new and old friends listening to the sound of the waves as you are scarfing down an incredible kebab realizing how fortunate and grateful you are to be there.
Southport is a suburb in the Gold Coast where Griffith University is located and the apartment complex The Village where I lived for four months was. This little town was a great place to go to Uni. There was shopping centres close by (Australia Fair Shopping Centre and Southport Park Parking Centre) that had cheap clothes, good grocery stores and a great place to buy any necessities. There was one bar that I went to every Thursday night called The Parkwood Tavern that was a pub during the day and a nightclub at night. It was walking distance from The Village so everybody that lives close ends up there that night.
Broadbeach is directly next to the Gold Coast. This beach in my opinion is the fancier of the areas to go to for nightlife. It is right next to the main Surfers Paradise beach and the big thing that we would go to there was Jupiter Casino. There is a convention center, bars, beaches and shopping centres there too. If Broadbeach was closer to where I lived I am sure I would have ended up here more. Every Sunday they have a market that is family friendly that serves everything from food to crafts.
4) Burleigh Heads
The big attraction here is the hikes at Burleigh Head National Park. This is an easy place to go for hikes that have a constant view walking along the water and warps you into a tropical paradise. Take your time here. If you aren't exhausted from the hike head to one of the many surf shops where you can rent a surfboard for $20 an hour and try and ride a wave. Make sure to get the biggest surfboard you can if you are a beginner and maybe take some lessons - will be worth it!
Cities in Australia To Visit
Welcome to marijuana paradise. There is one main street in Nimbin that has a bunch of reggae shops and restaurants and a ton of people selling and smoking weed. There are a few hostels and campsites and rivers near by that you see people that look like they have escaped life for this new hazy reality and they just found the key to happiness. I visited this town on two different occasions. The first night we stayed in a hostel called Nimbin Rox YHA that I highly recommend. This town is about an hour and a half drive from Surfers Paradise up a crazy mountain with roads that are narrow and have the most incredible views. The second time I visited was to go to a festival called Mardigrass where I camped out. Rent a car if you live in the Gold Coast to get here! You will only need two nights max to soak in the hazy city.
This plateau in Gold Coast has 12 walking tracks around that can turn this place into a full day event if you make sure to pack some food before you head out. Some of these tracks will lead to waterfalls! One in particular that you can actually slide down is called Cedar Creeks Fall. Make sure to bring a swimsuit and towel because you will regret not getting in this water! There is also the popular Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk and the Glow Worm Caves. The Glow Worm Caves were incredible to see - just imagine in the day time going in them and having the glow worms look like stars! An experience you can't capture with a camera so make sure to remember to be in the moment there. A great way to end the day is at Tamborine Mountain Distillery. Great drinks to try after exploring all day.
One must always visit Cairns when backpacking Australia. This is home town you stay at when you want to visit The Great Barrier Reef. A lot of people don't realize it is a lot more tropical in the North than in the South of Australia so bring shorts and flip flops and get ready to see wha this town has to offer. We found a travel agent that helped us book our snorkeling cruise to The Great Barrier Reef. I would recommend finding 3 for comparison and finding the best deal that fits your budget!
This city was the first place I truly explored in Australia. The public transportation is excellent to get around in whether it is by bus or by water taxi! Ask locals where the best night clubs are and let the music take over the night! During the day time try and explore down alleyways. You never know the hidden cafes, shop and street art that lay in the most random places.
Of course visit the famous Opera House and the park that surrounds it! From there head to Manly Beach where it is extremely crowded once you start swimming in the water you will realize why. A beautiful view of the beach and surrounding hills will make you feel like you are in paradise. After there head to Kings Cross to get the cheapest beers I found in the city.
Brisbane is a short train ride away from the Gold Coast and is a place you can't miss out on. There is a Chinatown that has incredible food and little shops you can walk around in. Read a few different menus that hang outside of the restaurants and see the different types of food that is offered. There is a lot of river cruises that you can find from different companies online or at travel agencies around the city! There is also a the world's first and largest Koala sanctuary called Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary! I would recommend two-three nights in this city and make sure to be by one of the river's for the beautiful sunsets.