Summer always lasts a little longer in Queensland, so I challenge you to make your summer live on by taking my best ever day trip to the Gold Coast. All you need is a car to make some incredible memories with your posse.
Obviously my guide below can be chopped, changed and switched up to suit however you roll - I get that a sunrise wake-up doesn't fit everyone's method of operation. I'm also not sending you to hidden beaches or on three-hour treks - this is about a simple fun day with friends.
The basic premise is that it's all about seeing some of the real Gold Coast, featuring kilometre after kilometre of uncrowded beaches and hinterland that combine to create one of Queensland's most beautiful regions.
Start your day at Froggies Beach
This is a little piece of heaven neatly spliced between Snapper Rocks and Point Danger. This could be your first port-of-call at sunrise, or you could head here mid-morning after having breakfast at any number of awesome cafes on the coast (Think Paddock Bakery, Elk Espresso, Skull & Bones Espresso or Commune). It's just next to gorgeous Rainbow Bay, which reminds me of Byron with its turquoise waters. Have a swim or surf with the locals amongst the gently rolling waves, or jump into the sea baths set into Snapper Rocks as the sun comes up over Point Danger for the best view in the house.
Head to Currumbin Valley
When you can tear yourself away from the gems of the Coolangatta region, it's time to head to the Currumbin Valley for a little waterfall action.
For the most beautiful cascading waterfall, head to the Cougal Cascades. You can find some information about getting there here or simply head to Currumbin Rock Pools as per the map here. Then, just keep driving until you reach the Mt Cougal National Park car park. It's a tiny bit further to drive than the more popular Currumbin rock pools but completely worth it and just a short walk from the car park.
Here you can sun yourself on the rocks, jump into the waterhole (at your own risk) or take advantage of the natural water slide formed by the falls like we did. Be warned, the last one is addictive and you'll end up acting like kids on speed – it's completely unavoidable.
Next up, dry yourselves off and head to Tallebudgera Creek, the coast's worst kept secret.
Tallebudgera to Burleigh
Tallebudgera Creek is a perfect spot for a swim, sunbake and SUP if you wish. If you're feeling a little adventurous, make like the many thrill seekers gathered on the bridge and dunk yourself into the refreshing inlet waters.
Once you've showered off the salt water, jump in the car to Burleigh. Take a quick walk into the Burleigh Head National Park to take in one of the most scenic perspectives the coast has to offer at Tumgun lookout.
At this stage, you're thirsty and starting to get hungry. Where do you go?
Burleigh Hill and beyond
It's time to grab a drink and a blanket (or a dry towel/sarong will do) and head to where the locals lay on Burleigh Hill for sundowners most nights.
Insider Tip: Sundays are packed so get there early with some nibbles if you're here on the weekend. As you watch the sun go down, you can't help but feel wistfully jealous of the laid-back GC lifestyle as you watch grommets skate by, bleached blonde fringes in their face, tanned teenagers strumming guitars and young couples treating themselves to a seafood picnic.
It's right about now you're feeling sun kissed and sad about leaving, when rumbling stomachs interrupt your leaving arrangements. Yep, it's time to kick on, and where else but Justin Lane? Luckily your bestie knows the squad too well and made a booking in advance, otherwise there'd be no chance of getting a pizza, much less a seat, in the packed rooftop mezzanine. Located just a block back from Burleigh beach, prepare for the best pizza of your life and make sure to include the James St Deli Ham in the table's order.
It's been a long day, so eat, drink and be merry.