So you’ve decided to peel yourself away from the beach? Escape the seaside and dive into the Gold Coast’s diverse hinterland—the ‘green behind the gold’ as it’s fondly known. Here you’ll unearth a piece of the city’s fabric that’s as magical as the sandy coastline that made it famous.

Whichever kind of traveller you are, when you find yourself with two hours to spare on your next Gold Coast vacay (or perhaps staycay), we suggest calling on this handy little guide.


Check out Cougal Cascades

Plunge into Cougal Cascades at the end of the lush Currumbin Valley. Credit: Brooke Darling
Plunge into Cougal Cascades at the end of the lush Currumbin Valley. Credit: Brooke Darling

While an expedition into the Gold Coast’s dreamy hinterland really requires a half-day or more to do it justice, you can still find cascading waterfalls and lush nature walks a short 20-minute drive from the beach. Pack your camera (and your swimmers if you’re eager for a refreshing dip in the rock pools) and trek out to Cougal Cascades, located at the end of the scenic Currumbin Valley drive, in Springbrook National Park. On your return journey, stop in at Currumbin Valley Harvest (open weekends only) for farm produce and delicious herbal tea made with mint, lemon and ginger pulled fresh from the garden.


Take a self-guided progressive eating tour

Rick Shores. Credit: Brooke Darling
In Burleigh? Start with bug rolls and a glass of Prosecco at Rick Shores. Credit: Brooke Darling

While some only eat for sustenance, if dining your way around a destination is considered an adventure in itself, well, you’re in luck on the Gold Coast. With a culinary scene that has exploded in recent years, you can easily turn a few spare hours into a self-guided progressive dining tour of some of the city’s hottest cafes, restaurants and bars.

From a brunch crawl through Burleigh with a coffee here and a poke bowl there, to a late afternoon restaurant hop along the many eat streets of Broadbeach, we’ve rounded up a few of our favourites here.


Hike Burleigh Hill

Burleigh Hill. Credit: Brooke Darling
Take in the dreamy views of Palm Beach from atop Burleigh Hill. Credit: Brooke Darling

We know what you’re thinking… There has been far too much eating and not enough moving on your Gold Coast vacay. Lucky there’s a stellar national park with rainforest hiking tracks and lookouts located within easy driving distance of most coastal accommodations. We’re talking about Burleigh Hill National Park. Lace up your sneakers and delve into Burleigh’s scenic forested headland, taking the track up and over to Tumgun Lookout where you’ll be met with views of magical Palm Beach. Keep walking to Tallebudgera Creek for a splash in the azure blue waters or an iced latte and acai bowl at Neptune Kiosk (on the southern side of the bridge). Just don’t get too comfortable, as you’ll still need to hike back.


Uncover hidden talents

Guests playing Topgolf.

If your mini humans are the adventurous type, fortunately, the Gold Coast is home to a bucket load of entertaining activities to fill a few hours and that you can both enjoy. We’re talking indoor skydiving with iFly (3 years plus), learn to wakeboard at the GC Wake Park (6 years plus), swing a club at state-of-the-art driving range Topgolf or SkyPoint Climb (12 years plus) 77 floors up on the SkyPoint Observation Deck. Or, if your beach bums prefer the simple life outdoors, hunt down the local’s favourite swimming spots Tallebudgera Creek and Currumbin Creek—splash-worthy blue water estuaries that are sure to put a smile on their dial.


Bike ride the Gold Coast Oceanway

Enjoy a bike ride and see the sights.

The Gold Coast might be a surfer’s paradise, but it’s also a paradise for bike riders. With a mostly flat path that spans a whopping 36 kilometres from The Spit in the north to Point Danger in the south, you could spend an entire day exploring the magical GC coastline and taking in the vistas of the beautiful oceanway on two wheels. Though if you only have a few hours to spare, take a bite-sized chunk starting and ending in whichever suburb you’re based, hitting cafes, surf clubs and scenic lookout points along the route. Just don’t forget to reserve some pedal power to turn around and ride back again. Pick up a rental bike from Happy Hire or Action Outdoor Hire.