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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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The Seaway Dive Site

Southport, Gold Coast Area
Free Entry
The Seaway is the most popular shore diving site in Queensland, and is found at the mouth of the Nerang River at Southport. There are several different areas that can be dived at The Seaway, with the Short Pipe and Sand Pipe area the most popular, and the easiest to access. In depths to 15 metres divers will be amazed at the variety and amount of fish life found at this site - schools of trevally, mulloway, gropers, moray eels, turtles, stingrays, wobbegongs, stonefish, scorpionfish and a host of tropical fish species. A feature of The Seaway are all the unusual species that can be seen, including sea horses, cuttlefish, pineapplefish, nudibranchs, dragonets, anglerfish, velvetfish and pipefish.

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.

Scottish Prince Dive Site

Southport, Gold Coast Area
Free Entry
The Scottish Prince, 800 metres off the Gold Coast's Southport Spit, features the wreck of a three steel-masted, 64 metre iron barque ship. The Scottish Prince sank as it was sailing from Glasgow, Scotland to Brisbane with a cargo of whiskey, mousetraps, linen and other assorted cargo, with only the hull of the ship remaining. These days, the Scottish Prince is covered in soft corals and sponges, making it a haven for crayfish, shovelnose rays, brown-banded catsharks and wobbegong sharks, and other tropical fish. There isn't much access to the inside of the wreck, however a variety of marine life will pop their heads out to say hello. The Scottish Prince is protected under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwreck Act, so make sure you take nothing but photos and memories.

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.

An Island Hideaway

Runaway Bay, Gold Coast Area
From AU$69.00 - 239.00
Welcome to An Island Hideaway, the Gold Coast's best kept secret. Their four-acre private paradise hidden away in the beautiful National Park bushland of South Stradbroke Island is the perfect location for your next Gold Coast Wedding or Event. Say "I do" in their gorgeous open air beachside chapel only metres from the waters edge. It has stunning water views and romantic charm that really sets the scene for a wedding day to remember. Their other ceremony options include the beach, tropical gardens and Balinese style hut.

South Stradbroke Island

South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast Area
Step aside Gilligan. Should you ever find yourself stranded on South Stradbroke Island or 'South Straddie' as the locals like to call her, then you can count your lucky stars. For you are visiting a Gold Coast destination as pretty as Ginger and as down-to-earth as Mary Ann. Not that you are too far away from civilisation on this sand island near Southport which is only 200 metres from the northern end of the Spit. This makes it a great day trip for those who travel by private boat, charter boat, ferry or water taxi from several departure points along the Gold Coast. There's three council campsites on the island, as well as a café, for those who wish to extend their stay. And who wouldn't? South Straddie offers superb surfing, swimming and bushwalking. There's loads of native wildlife among this 1,800-hectare conservation park which is ideal for hiking, rock climbing and ocean fishing. Becoming stranded never looked so good.

Southport

Southport, Gold Coast Area
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.

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.

Biggera Waters

Biggera Waters, Gold Coast Area
Beautiful Biggera Creek lent this suburb its name which is famous for its heritage-listed "land's end" site, but there is nothing final about a visit here. Those searching for a sedate spot in the northern part of the coast will adore a trip here, opposite the bustling Broadwater and the sizzling Gold Coast Spit and across from Wavebreak Island. One of the best ways to explore Biggera Waters is to hire a boat and travel around the creeks, estuaries and islands for which this part of the Gold Coast is best known. There's plenty of fishing spots among hidden channels, mangroves, rock walls and creek mouths. Or, if you prefer your fish already caught, enjoy the cafes and restaurants which are springing up along this sunny spot. Wander along the waterfront promenade and select from a wide-range of accommodation from luxury resorts, apartments, motels, self-contained units, caravanning and camping. Snatch a spot of shopping at popular Harbour Town, a destination within itself and home to discount designer fashion, homewares and accessory stores. It may have once been known as land's end, but here, it's really just the beginning.

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.
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