5 Days in Gold Coast and Byron Bay
After getting back from our holiday trip in Sydney and the Central Coast, we dedicated our efforts to find a little grounding (and work!) in Melbourne. By the time March rolled around however, we were ready to take off again, with our destination this time being Gold Coast, Queensland for a few days, followed by two nights in Byron Bay, New South Wales!
Day 1: Gold Coast
A few years ago, Desta called Gold Coast home while she did her masters degree at Bond University, so she was excited to show Dermot where she used to live. We arrived in Gold Coast in the early evening, so first order of business was picking up the rental car and driving to our hotel, which would be in Surfer’s Paradise – a suburb of Gold Coast and the city’s main entertainment and tourism centre.
Our plan for the evening was to grab a bite to eat and then head to the casino, Jupiters, for a drink and maybe try our luck at some gambling. We were really craving Thai food for dinner, so we left our hotel in search of a Thai restaurant that would satisfy our appetite. Desta remembered there being a Thai restaurant by the place she lived in during her time in Gold Coast, so we decided to take a chance and walk over to Broadbeach to see if it was still there. Sure enough, it was!
We’ve really lucked out with our Thai restaurants during our travels. The restaurant looked like it was closing for the evening, but the staff were more than accommodating of our late dinner. The food was delicious, and after our meal (in what seems like it’s becoming a Thai restaurant tradition), the server asked if we’d like a liqueur at the bar – on the house! We thanked them very much, and headed over to Jupiters Casino, just a short walk away.
Unfortunately, Jupiters was not so accommodating. Living in Australia, everyone wears sandals and flip-flops (or thongs, as they’re called here). A lot of people don’t even wear any shoes where we live in Melbourne…. So we didn’t think twice about our footwear for the evening. As we stepped into the casino though, we were told we couldn’t enter the slots area without closed toe shoes, which was a bummer. We made the most of it however, and grabbed a drink in the lobby while we watched three guys who looked like professional rugby players sing popular songs a capella.
We had a lot planned for our first full day in Gold Coast! We started the day by grabbing a delicous breakfast at a restaurant called BSKT (pronounced “biscuit”). We shared a delicious plate of blueberry pancakes, and each ordered a healthy smoothie.
After breakfast (and a few photos by the beach), we were going back to school! Before flying to Gold Coast, Desta had reached out to a former classmate of hers, Isara (who was now doing his PhD program at Bond), to see if he’d be available to meet up while we were there. So Isara had organized a lunch for us at the university with two of Desta’s former professors as well! We arrived with plenty of time, so Desta could give Dermot a tour around the campus before meeting everyone for lunch. Bond has such a beautiful campus!
Lunch at the university was at the “President’s Club”, a room that was once exclusive to professors, but was now open to students, primarily for special occasion lunches. We had a wonderful time catching up with Desta’s professors and Isara, and lunch just flew by!
After lunch, we bid farewell to Bond, and headed back to Surfer’s Paradise for a little beach time! The Gold Coast is known for its kilometres of gorgeous white sand beach, and we couldn’t have had a more beautiful day to soak up the sun on the Gold Coast’s most popular tourist beach at Surfer’s Paradise.
The Night Quarter
After our time in the sun, we headed back to the hotel to get ready, and then it was back on the road again to meet up with our friend Em, who we were lucky enough to meet while travelling Europe on our Contiki tour. After several happy reunion hugs were shared, we all headed out to the Gold Coast’s Night Quarter, a massive outdoor food and entertainment venue – a new addition to the area.
The Night Quarter was huge, and just bursting with great energy and endless amounts of delicious food! After we finally decided on what to eat for dinner (not an easy feat), we took our food to a covered hangar to listen to some great live music and catch up with Em. With good food, and even better company, we had an amazing time at the Night Quarter.
Day 2: Gold Coast
Springbrook National Park
The next day, we got up nice and early again to grab a quick breakfast in Surfer’s Paradise, and then headed back up to Em’s to meet up for another Gold Coast adventure! We hopped into Em’s car, and drove out of the city and into hinterland towards Springbrook National Park.
Springbrook National Park was absolutely stunning, and despite an initial very foggy outlook due to some looming late morning showers, we were able to catch some majorly beautiful views of the Gold Coast hinterland. We ended up taking a little hike to the Twin Falls, which provided us with an entirely different perspective on the type of attractions Gold Coast has to offer. The Twin Falls, and the entire hinterland area of the Gold Coast was gorgeous, and we were so lucky to have such a wonderful friend and tour guide for the day showing us the green behind the Gold.
SUP at Currumbin Creek
On our way back home from Springbrook, we stopped at Currumbin Creek for a little stand-up paddleboard session. It was so nice to stick with the outdoor adventure theme of the day, and get out onto the water.
Later that night, we headed back to Em’s for a barbeque with her roommates and friends. It was a pretty awesome feeling to realize that we met Em while travelling in Europe, and now, six moths later, we were sitting and laughing with her and her friends in her backyard in Australia. One of the greatest gifts our travels has afforded us is the amazing people we have met along the way. We create stories not by the attractions or places we tick off the list, but by the connections and relationships we make on the journey. Em you are such a gem, and we can’t to see where we might meet up again!
Day 3: Byron Bay
The next day, we managed to sneak in one more beach session before making our way to Byron Bay, New South Wales, where we would spend the final two days of our trip. Although Byron Bay is in another state, and has an entirely different vibe than the more urban, skyscraper lined Gold Coast, this bohemian coastal town is an easy 1.5 hour drive down the M1 freeway from Gold Coast.
Byron Bay Beach Resort
We arrived at the Byron Bay Beach Resort, and immediately felt at ease. Surfboards and cruiser bicycles lined the hostel/hotel’s entrance, and Desta immediately noticed the big sign promoting the yoga classes offered at the property. We checked into our beautiful room, and after some lunch, we headed out to check out the beach and Byron’s downtown where we grabbed a drink at the Beach Hotel.
Day 4: Byron Bay
Byron Bay Lighthouse Hike
The next morning, we grabbed some liquid breakfast (coffee and smoothies!) and made the hike to the Byron Bay lighthouse. After some confusion as to where the hiking trail actually started (we think we added a few extra kilometres to our hike that morning) we found the trail which not only took us up to the lighthouse, but offered up some gorgeous ocean views (we even saw a group of dolphins!), and led us to the most easterly point in all Australia! Pretty cool.
The lighthouse itself was stunning. Dermot has become quite fixated on lighthouses over the course of our travels, so this gorgeous one only further ignited his enthusiasm and appreciation for these historical coastal buildings.
After the hike, we ate a very late “real” breakfast, Desta did a little shopping, and then we headed back to the hotel. While a slightly sunburnt Desta took a little rest out of the sun to prepare for yoga, Dermot went right back out to take a dip in the ocean to get himself in the yoga mindset. Our yoga class was just what we needed after a long day of adventuring, and we returned to our rooms feeling replenished and content.
Day 5: Gold Coast
Rainbow Bay and Snapper Rocks
The next morning, we were in denial that it was already time to leave. We bid farewell to Byron Bay and headed back to Gold Coast to do a little bit more sight seeing before heading to the airport. We drove up to the suburb of Coolangatta, to an area called Rainbow Bay and Snapper Rocks, where the Quicksilver Pro surfing competition would be held the following week.
We soaked up even more beautiful views and walked across the beach to watch some amazingly talented surfers do their thing. We also got to see some of the initial set-up for the upcoming surf competition, which was pretty cool as well.
With one more stop in Burleigh Heads, yet another gorgeous oceanside suburb of the Gold Coast, it was time to head to the airport to catch our flight home to Melbourne. We had the most amazing time in both Gold Coast and Byron Bay, and we are so thankful to both Isara and Em for helping us feel right at home here. Until we meet again 🙂