The vibrant city of the Gold Coast, celebrated for its never-ending white sandy beaches, surfing, and theme parks, is one of Australia’s favourite playgrounds.
The city is an eclectic mix of beach and city with a side of after-dark festivities. Venture further afield and you’ll be rewarded with world class national parks, charming little towns, sleepy beaches, and verdant valleys.
This is a region that implores exploration, so we’ve compiled a list of our favourite regions to explore by road.
Here is our list of The Gold Coast’s Best Drives:
Currumbin Valley – Kingscliff – Murwillumbah
Venture down the coast to discover a range of less popular, yet equally as beautiful, beaches. While you’ll come across a number of beaches on your way south be sure to hold out until Kingscliff, which is just south of the NSW boarder. Kingscliff has more than its fair share of stunning golden crescents of pristine sand, trendy cafes and restaurants, and art galleries to explore.
From Kingscliff take scenic route 40 towards the town of Murwillumbah. Murwillumbah will have you under its spell the moment you set eyes on it. The quaint town is set amidst the impressive scenery of the Tweed Valley. Rolling green hills are a common occurrence here, as are mesmerising rivers and storybook farms.
From Murwillumbah take route 98 north towards the Gold Coast, which will take you through the verdant Currumbin Valley and all its treasures. Stop at the Three Figs Cafe for a serene lunch break and postcard perfect views, or one of the fruit and veg stalls at the roadside. Be sure to make time for the Currumbin Valley Rock pools and take a dip in freshwater pools surrounded by lush rainforest. If you don’t fancy getting wet the rainforest surrounds are also a perfect place to spread out a picnic blanket and just enjoy nature.
Lamington National Park via Canungra
Nestled snugly behind the glittering coastline is the superb subtropical hinterland of the Gold Coast. Here you’ll find the lush, emerald gem that is Lamington National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage listed area. The park contains over 160km of outstanding walking trails, an impressive array of wildlife, and more than 500 waterfalls. Needless to say the park can consume an entire day if you let it.
To get there head west along route 90 towards Canungra, an adorable town worth exploring to stretch your legs or to stop at for some morning tea.
Back on the road, head south along Lamington National Park Road. This is where the stunning scenery of Canungra Valley begins.
A few minutes down the road you’ll come across O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards, a boutique winery where you can pick up some great local wines, or at the very least sample a few drops. The award-winning winery offers up some delectable dishes as well.
The last 30km of the road is a slow windy ascent towards the park that will leave you with a jaw ache it’s that impressive. As you twist and turn up the mountain you will travel over cattle grids, through sections encased by rainforest, and super-slowly around hairpin one way corners. Slow and steady wins the race, particularly when it comes to this section of the trip. Be sure to slow down and take in the impressive views that wow around every corner; a just reward for enduring the roller coaster ride skyward.
Tamborine Mountain and National Park
Not so much a ‘drive’ as it is a destination worth exploring in itself, Tamborine Mountain and the surrounding National Park are a fantastic day trip and the two hour return trip from the Gold Coast is still quite pleasant.
Take route 90 towards Tamborine Mountain where you’ll go through the small village then head up the mountain itself towards North Tamborine (and Eagle Heights if you venture off-route). Take your time to explore the area. The size is deceiving, there is so much to offer you’ll be spoilt for choice in how to occupy your time. Wander the streets and you’ll find art galleries, markets, wineries, and adorable shops and cafes to while-away the hours.
Continue on to Tamborine National Park to wander through rainforest along picturesque walking trails and discover hidden waterfalls. See if you can spot one of the elusive platypus that call this National Park home. Don’t miss the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk, a 1.5km rainforest walk with a bridge high above the rainforest.
The views towards the coast and of the surrounding hinterland are impressive from atop the mountain and there are a number of lookouts you can stop at to enjoy them. The lookout on Knoll Road makes for a lovely stop to take in the views, or walk the pleasant 30 minute trail from the end of Knoll Road towards Cameron Falls to enjoy views of the gorgeous waterfall and hinterland.
If you’re in the area after the sun goes down be sure to visit the Tamborine Mountain Glow Worm Caves for an impressive self-illuminating display of nature.