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Family fun on the Gold Coast

Queensland, Australia

Rene Young finds the perfect balance between family-fun and family down-time at the Gold Coast.

With an endless coast of golden beaches to play on, thousands of kilometres of canals to explore and a dizzying array of theme park thrills waiting to delight, families going on a holiday to the Gold Coast face the mind-boggling task of deciding just what to pack into their sunshine getaway.

Harbourfront Accommodation
Tucked away in Gold Coast’s northern corner, the tranquil harbourfront Ramada Hotel Hope Island Resort seems worlds away from the vertigo-inducing skyscrapers of Surfers Paradise. Far enough away from the signature crowds and neon lights of the city to offer a peaceful family escape while remaining close by the major attractions.

My family and I fell into holiday mode quickly and effortlessly; kicking back on our balcony and admiring the yachts below before dinner. A recent refurbishment has breathed fresh life into the resort and the spacious rooms have been tastefully furnished with modern décor, ours offering two comfortable queen size beds and complimentary (and super speedy) Wi-Fi. Within minutes of entering the room, we were fawning over the oversized bathroom – with its own bathtub and separate shower – as well as the balcony retreat, which later proved the ideal spot for a relaxing nightcap once the kids were tucked in.

Delicious dinners and pure relaxation

We take our rumbling tummies to Marlin Restaurant – where the new executive chef serves up portions so generous - Fred Flintstone-sized brontosaurus ribs spring to mind when presented with a deliciously full rack.

The combination of the moonlight-bathed marina, live music, attentive service, colouring-in kits and favourite ice cream flavours , results in two very content children. We milk this somewhat rare occurrence for all it was worth, savouring each bite and sipping on the local brew, content in the knowledge that someone else would be washing the dishes. Similarly happy vibes are found at the buffet breakfast, as the kids relish the rare freedom to choose whatever food they desire. The indulgent restaurant staff score bonus points with the kids by sneaking them bread to feed the schools of fish by the marina.

And don’t worry, mum and dad do ok too, taking turns watching the kids as we each indulge in a Thai massage at Yindee's. Our masseuse Quy speaks not a word of English, though her superb skills in stretching and kneading every sore muscle on our bodies transcends any language barrier. Loose and relaxed, we undergo further beautifying next door at Balance Health and Beauty, where Vesna expertly strips away tired layers of neglected skin with a miraculous microdermabrasion device.

A day in Surfers Paradise
A 20-minute drive has us in the heart of Surfers Paradise, boarding an air-conditioned vessel for a serene afternoon cruise along the Gold Coast’s waterways with Wyndham Cruises. The 90-minute guided tour transports us past canal-front mansions, prawn trawlers and luxury yachts moored at Marina Mirage.

We spend most of our time on the sundeck upstairs, enjoying the extraordinary views of the city skyline from the water. The open-air platform allows the kids to wave at other boats and search for bull sharks, which the skipper tells us lurk in the waters.

After our cruise, the only way was up – seventy-seven floors up to the Skypoint Observation Deck at Q1 – the Gold Coast’s tallest building. We soak in the breathtaking 360-degree panoramas from the surf all the way to the lush hinterlands, all glowing in the golden light of sunset.

Theme park fun
With our resorts proximity to the Gold Coast’s notoriously epic theme parks, we are able to take the time to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and morning swim, building up much needed energy reserves for Dreamworld and the adjoining Whitewater World. We ride the Big Red Car at Wiggles World, soar on dragons at Shrek’s Faire Faire Away and fire squishy balls in the Madagascar-themed indoor jungle.

The highlight of the day is undoubtedly the tigers; the kids watch on in wonder as the magnificent creatures leap between raised platforms and scale a 10-metre tree! We even get to meet the new Bengal tiger cub sisters, Adira and Akasha, and the adorable (though as yet un-named) white tiger cubs.

With a click of a turnstile, we swap tigers and rides for water fun. We zip down slides, shoot water cannons, splash under fountains and dodge a giant tipping bucket, before cooling off in the 2,685-metre wave pool. Dragging the kids away from this water wonderland proves easier than expected with the promise of an in-room movie with popcorn in bed, back at the Ramada.

***Gold Coast Report Card***


Getting there
Virgin flies direct to the Gold Coast daily from most capital cities.

Ramada Hotel Hope Island Resort


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