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Awaken your wild side with these Gold Coast experiences

Dreams of a heavenly holiday on Queensland’s Gold Coast stir up images of long, golden beaches and warm breaking waves. While this coastal city certainly delivers on sun and surf, its real uniqueness is its wild side, writes Cathy Finch.

On a recent visit to the ‘Goldy’, as it’s affectionately known, I am thrilled to discover the rush of soaring through the rainforest upside down, and scaling 270 metres above the ground on the southern hemisphere’s tallest 322.5-metre residential tower – Gold Coast experiences that will leave you breathless. Surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery, this diverse and dynamic coastline will charm and exhilarate any adventure seeker.  

Swimming spot in the Gold Coast
© Destination Gold Coast

Climb the tallest residential tower in the southern hemisphere

Cutting 270 metres skyward, the Q1 building is one of the most iconic landmarks on the Gold Coast and the tallest residential tower in the southern hemisphere. The best thing about it is that you can climb it. Arriving after lunch, I am met by Josh from SkyPoint Climb, who steps me into what looks like a moon suit (I mean, these things are supposed to keep you alive in harsh environments, right?) and a full-body harness. From here, the only way is up.

We launch to level 77 in SkyPoint’s high-speed elevator, one of the fastest in Australia. Once tethered to the railings, we proceed to complete a further 30-metre climb on the outside of the building. The Gold Coast skyline is awash in sunshine and Josh chats about points of interest on the horizon while we adjust to the dizzying heights surrounding us. Winding through the suburbs below, five river systems and over 270km of navigable waterways radiate skywards. That adds up to nine times more canals than Venice in Italy. Perhaps it’s this that contributes to the destination being a major film hub, producing 75% of movies in Queensland and being Australia’s most biologically diverse city, home to more than 1300 animal species and 1700 plant species.

“It really is quite high, isn’t it?” my adult daughter, Bobbie, says delicately, leaning out from the platform where high-rises become low-rises below us.

Aerial view of gold coast city
© Destination Gold Coast

Drink cocktails at SkyPoint Observation Deck

No other building climb in the country offers the same unhindered 360-degree views from 270 metres off the ground. We take our time to enjoy the panorama, searching for passing whales on the horizon while Josh encourages us to let go of our grip (trusting in our safety harnesses) for the exhilaration of flying high above the skyline. If you aren’t fearless enough to complete the climb, Q1’s SkyPoint Observation Deck bar also provides an eagle’s-eye view to enjoy a drink as you watch sun set over the hinterland.

The adrenalin leaves us feeling exhausted as we head to our accommodation at the elegant Dorsett Hotel, sinking into the plush king beds. From here, I admire the sublime coastline and hinterland views from the windows, savouring event moment before my morning activity on the banks of nearby Tallebudgera Creek.

Cocktails at Q1 Skyclimb and an exterior view of Dorsett Gold Coast
© Destination Gold Coast

Find your inner zen with yoga on the water

A perfect sunrise throws crystal reflections on the ripples of the creek as I meet Kate from Pure Aloha Yoga, who gently coaxes me onto a stand-up-paddle board to find my inner sanctuary amid some very shaky ‘downward dogs’.

Above me, the sky is filled with bird calls, while tiny stingrays and schools of bream swim against the tide below. With senses heightened, we paddle through the crisp morning air, mist rising from the water around us to form skirts of floating fog on giant gum trees. I hear the pitter-patter of webbed feet and turn to see a cormorant take off, using his wings as rudders, droplets of water falling from his beak. We drop the anchor from our boards and Kate draws us into her yoga practice, which is both restorative and uplifting and makes me forget my fear of falling in. It’s a peaceful start to another day filled with adventurous Gold Coast experiences.

People doing yoga on paddle boards on the Gold Coast
© Destination Gold Coast

Fly through the rainforest on Australia’s largest, highest and fastest zip line

After breakfast, I leave Tallebudgera Creek to hit the green behind the gold of the coast, driving one hour inland through the Gold Coast Hinterland to Thunderbird Park on Tamborine Mountain. Home to Australia’s largest zip line attraction, the Mount Tamborine TreeTop Challenge and Canon Flyer tap into the daredevil in all of us, offering more than 120 TreeTop activities over four hectares of bushland and rainforest. I’ve opted to participate in the three-hour, heart-pumping Canyon Flyer that tackles seven extreme zip lines up to 60 metres above Cedar Creek canyon – one of the most thrilling Gold Coast experiences yet.

Harnessed and ready to fly, the first three zip lines are long and fast as I surf through the treetops. It instantly sorts the fearsome from the fearless, the screamers from the non-screamers. This is Australia’s largest, highest and fastest zip line tour, so I come prepared with my fear suppressed. By the fifth zip line, most of us gain the confidence to fly upside down, progressing to the last ride which begins with freefalling backwards onto the line. It’s a trust thing – and I fail miserably – but it leaves me feeling entirely invigorated… and positively starving.

People zip lining through trees in the Gold Coast
Image 1: Cathy Finch | Image 2: Destination Gold Coast

Dining on the Gold Coast

The outdoor dining and picnic area of the nearby Tamborine Mountain Coffee Plantation provides a pretty place to relax after the exertion of freeing my soul on this daring TreeTop experience before winding back down to the coast to refuel. Bazaar Restaurant at QT Hotel seems like the obvious dinner choice as it advertises its menu as “something to be reckoned with”, fitting with my weekend theme of walking on the wilder side of Gold Coast experiences. Pulsing with thrilling city energy, Executive Chef Benney promises a gastronomic exploration of global flavours from Middle Eastern souk to Latin American bodega, the perfect place for a weekend of adventure to blend with culinary culture.

Go and try these experiences for yourself to get your adrenalin pumping on the Gold Coast. If you are looking for ways to experience the Gold Coast, here is where to explore the Gold Coast’s best-kept secrets with friends and ways to enrich your mind, body and soul on the Gold Coast or visit for more holiday inspiration.

This article was produced in partnership with Destination Gold Coast and is a Signature Luxury Travel & Style digital exclusive.

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