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Southport

If you squint into the sunshine and cast your mind back a little over a century, you can almost picture the Southport of old, one of the Gold Coast's earliest and most fashionable seaside destinations. Originally called Nerang Creek Heads, it wasn't long before Southport's name was changed to mirror that of the English resort of the same name.

This area has a rich romantic history which in the 1890s attracted Queensland Governor Anthony Musgrave and his entourage for its sideshow theatre, the Southport pier and its picture theatre. Brisbane's well-heeled arrived by cutter or steamer and were rowed to shore. While access to this pretty place has since improved vastly, its appeal remains. Just north of Surfers Paradise, it is one of the major business hubs of the Gold Coast and overlooks the dazzling Broadwater and the Southport Spit which divides the Broadwater from the Pacific Ocean.

Shop at Australia Fair Shopping Centre, or escape to the languid stretch of parklands here, along which you can wander and daydream that you are back in the days of petticoats and parasols.

High Street
Southport, Gold Coast Area
Queensland
Australia

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Gold Coast Seaway Dive Site

Southport, Gold Coast Area
Free Entry
The Gold Coast Seaway offers diving for the beginner to advanced. There are two pipes that protrude from the Southern Seaway wall. This dive site is divided into four main areas: South Wall (including the Sand Bypass Pipe and the Short Pipe) - great marine biodiversity; North Wall - schools of pelagic fish, wobbegong and whaler sharks; South-West Wall - beach entry and home to little critters; Wave Break Island - excellent for snorkelling, intro and learn to dive.

The Scottish Prince Dive Site

Southport, Gold Coast Area
Free Entry
The hull of The Scottish Prince lies in 10 metres of water near the Southport Spit providing a fascinating wreck dive on the Gold Coast. In 1887, "The Scottish Prince", a 3 steel-masted iron barque 64 metres long, sank as she was sailing from Glasgow, Scotland to Brisbane with a cargo of whiskey, mousetraps, linen and other assorted cargo. Only the hull remains and is covered with soft corals and sponges, and is a haven for crayfish, Shovelnose rays, Leopard and wobbegong sharks, and other tropical fish. The wreck is protected under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwreck Act.

Pine Ridge Conservation Park

Runaway Bay, Gold Coast Area
Free Entry
Pine Ridge Conservation Park protects one of the last remaining wallum banksia stands on the Gold Coast. In this small, virtually untouched park is culturally important to the Kombumerri-Ngarangwal people. Escape the city's hustle and bustle on a stroll or cycle along bitumen boundary tracks; or walk the sandy, centre track. See the park's varied plant-life, including tall bloodwood trees, heath and paperbark swamps. Enjoy the flush of wildflowers in late winter and spring, especially after good autumn rains. Remember the binoculars for watching wildlife. Camping is not allowed in the park, but a picnic area is available for those wanting to enjoy a whole day out.

Sunday Jazz Lunch Cruise

Main Beach, Gold Coast Area
Cruise aboard the "Voyager' where your taste buds will be treated to a feast for the senses! Indulge in a sensational seafood and international buffet, whilst enjoying the smooth sounds of "Sitory Groove" jazz band featuring the fabulous Peter Tuitama. Enjoy a refreshing beverage and take in the views over two magnificent decks whilst they leisurely travel on the glittering Broadwater. Delicious dishes include chicken satay skewers, antipasto platters, Moroccan style bean rice, honey glazed roast ham, plus a Seafood Fantasy of the fresh prawns, spanner crab, calamari and salmon just to name a few. Includes two to two and a half hour day cruise on the glittering Broadwater, their famous seafood and international buffet featuring flavours from around the world, live jazz band and dance floor.

Labrador

Labrador, Gold Coast Area
Like a loyal puppy, Labrador has been one of the Gold Coast's mainstays since its hotel was built in 1884. Back in the day, this 15-room hotel complete with three sitting rooms, outhouses and stables, was perfect for the Cobb and Co coach service which transported boat passengers arriving from Brisbane. Local Aborigines were also drawn to the area due to its abundance of shellfish, mud crabs, oysters and waterfowl. Fast forward to the modern day, and visitors still flock here for the great range of accommodation from high rises to caravan parks to cafes and high-end restaurants. Sitting just north of Southport and just south of Biggera Waters, Labrador is popular for its calm waters, peaceful parks and views out to South Stradbroke Island. The Grand Hotel still sits there too. Sure, it may have changed a bit, but that kind of old-style service and loyalty for which Labrador is renowned, remains.

Main Beach

Main Beach, Gold Coast Area
While other suburbs snatch their names from exotic Aboriginal meanings or English seaside villages, Main Beach is far more literal. Situated at the northern end of the Gold Coast, Main Beach was so named as it was the main surf beach to the town of Southport. But while its name may be obvious, its hidden gems are far more exciting for this is one of the coast's areas which celebrates something old and something new in style. A highlight of a visit here is to the beach itself, where the old bathing pavilion, Pavilion 34 to be precise, has been reincarnated as a casual beach café complete with chikko rolls, potato scallops, pineapple fritters and fish and chips. The old male and female change pavilions are still here and there's loads of retro photos to remind you of the Main Beach of old. This bathing pavilion sits next to the Southport Surf Club, the first to make its mark on the Gold Coast in 1936 and right next to a sprawling shady park which is perfect for oceanfront picnics. Away from the beach - popular with surfers due to its open shore break - toddle down to Tedder Avenue. Sassy socialites and salty surfies rub shoulders here in this strip of modern cafes, exclusive restaurants, bars and boutiques. For more shopping and style, take a wander towards the Southport Spit - or simply The Spit - to locals. Along the Gold Coast Broadwater opposite Southport, you'll encounter high-end hotels such as Palazzo Versace and exclusive shopping at Marina Mirage. The Southport Yacht Club also sits here and services the beautiful boats which dot these waters. Still further along this slither of land you'll find the iconic theme park Sea World. Continue a bit further along and you'll end up at The Spit and the entrance to the Gold Coast Seaway. The true beauty of Main Beach is that it's where the fish and chip set mix with the bold and beautiful in that true Aussie spirit of egalitarianism.

Boondall

Moreton Bay And Islands, Brisbane Area
Best known as the home of Brisbane's premier concert hall, entertainment centre and sporting complex, the suburb of Boondall is located approximately 20 minutes drive north-east of Brisbane's city centre. The suburb also harbours the Boondall Wetlands Park - an extensive system of important wetlands that partly encircles the Brisbane Entertainment Centre and Sports Complex. The Brisbane Entertainment Centre regularly hosts big name acts from overseas along with major shows and sporting events. Set beside a lake amongst the wetland paperbarks, the grounds of the Entertainment Centre are a great place for a picnic with barbecue facilities provided. For something a little different, you can strap on a pair of skates at the Sports Complex and take to the ice! At the Boondall Wetlands Park visitors can learn more about the area at the purpose-built Environmental Centre. At the Centre you can sign up for a range of activities including cycling adventures, guided walks, arts, crafts and indigenous cultural workshops. Winding through the wetlands are a system of boardwalks that allow visitors a closer look at this fragile and unique environment. Black ducks and wood ducks are regularly seen in the Wetlands. From September to March, the Wetlands become the home of migratory wading birds from as far away as Alaska, China and Japan. If you are feeling adventurous, you can take the walking path up to Anne Beasley's lookout. The walk is steep but the views are sensational. There are several hotels and motels in Boondall with a wide range of dining options in the suburbs nearby.

Amity Point

North Stradbroke Island, Redland City Area
On the calm waters of Moreton Bay, Amity Point is located on North Stradbroke Island, the second largest sand island in the world. Located just off the coast of Brisbane, North Stradbroke Island can be accessed by regular passenger and vehicular ferries which depart from mainland Cleveland. Amity has a quiet, laid-back fishing village atmosphere. Popular with families, couples looking for a romantic escape or seniors who enjoy the peace and quiet, Amity is the perfect place to relax, unwind, wet a line or watch the sun set over the mainland. Amity's most popular landmark is its jetty and is a favoured spot to watch the sun set and dolphins at play. The calm bay waters make the swimming enclosure a safe place for the kids to splash about or swim. The rock wall on either side of the jetty is teeming with marine life and a vast array of fish species makes snorkelling a truly memorable experience. There are a range of accommodation options in Amity Point to suit all budgets. Waterfront cabins, budget units, cottages, bungalows and houses are all available for short term hire. Foreshore campsites are popular but can only be accessed by four-wheel drive and permits are required.

Coomera

Coomera, Gold Coast Area
Local Aborigines named this suburb after a fern but these days it could easy be named after fun for you have now entered theme park heaven for which the Gold Coast is renowned. All the big names in entertainment are here including Dreamworld and WhiteWater World, Wet'n'Wild, Warner Bros. Movie World and the Australian Outback Spectacular. Enjoy adrenalin-pumping rides, gravity-defying rollercoasters, hair-raising water slides, stunt performances and exotic animals from around the world. Take a go-kart ride on a nearby track, jump in a scenic helicopter ride or kayak down the Coomera River. Away from all the adrenalin, the river is a perfect place to escape and houseboats for hire offer a different glimpse of the Gold Coast's waterways. The fishing here is superb too and you can catch mangrove jack, flathead, bream or trevally. Those with some spare cash or just some big dreams will love wandering around Coomera's Gold Coast Marina - the largest in the southern hemisphere. Super yachts, super fun. Yep, that's Coomera.

Oxenford

Oxenford, Gold Coast Area
It's difficult to believe but this rather unassuming suburb, which lies just off the Pacific Highway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, is home to some of the best movie-making facilities in Australia. Oxenford, which borders Coomera and the theme park mecca which is Dreamworld, Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet'n'Wild, and The Australian Outback Spectacular, can lay claim to Village Roadshow Studios. Here, world-class film production facilities include eight sound stages, three water tanks, ten production offices, editing suites, wardrobe, makeup, construction, paint and carpentry shops. It also boasts the largest purpose-built film water tank in Australia. A number of high-profile Australian and international movies have been filmed and produced here and Oxenford is slowly being etched in to the psyche of international film makers. Like a down-to-earth Geoffrey Rush or that hunky Hugh Jackman, this Gold Coast suburb just likes to get on with the movie-making business and leave the glitz to other places.
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