10 Free Things to do with Kids

on the Gold Coast

Renowned as Australia's favourite playground, there's endless fun to be had on the Gold Coast, from the trails and waterfalls of the hinterland, to the golden sandy beaches. Here are 10 of the most awesome things to do with kids that won't cost a cent:

Both of these incredible walks depart from the vicinity of O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat. The jaw-dropping Tree Top Walk comprises 9 suspension bridges up to 16m above the rainforest floor and features a viewing deck which is located 30m above ground in a fig tree, so kids can experience the magic of the rainforest canopy. The Wishing Tree Track passes some giant Brush Box trees and over a tree fern gully via a suspension bridge. When you reach The Wishing Tree you can turn left to Glow Worm Gully or pass underneath the tree to head to Morans Creek.

With so many great spots on the Gold Coast to drop a line, here are five to get you started. If you'd like to take the kids surf fishing, you can't go past Snapper Rocks on the southern end of the coast. Or, if you're on the north side, try the local's fave - the Gold Coast Seaway at Southport. For calmer waters, it's hard to go past Tallebudgera Creek, with so many picturesque spots to cast a rod. Or you can try two of the Gold Coast's best kept secrets: the Bond University lake in Robina and the quaint waterside township of Jacobs Well on the northern end of the Gold Coast, where you can access the endless channels and creeks of the Pimpama River.

These stunning parklands occupy a prime position along the edge of the beautiful Broadwater. Featuring giant sculptures, an aquativity park, playground, netted swimming beach and jumping pillow, there's plenty of activities for kids to easily fill a day here. Bring a picnic or BBQ and cook up a feast on one of the Parklands' public BBQs.

This 70ha bushland reserve is a hidden treasure, fringed by nearly 3km of shoreline, that stretches from Philip Park near Sea World to the Seaway on the Spit. A network of trails criss-cross their way through the reserve, which is one of the few areas with an established dune system on the Gold Coast. Exploring the hidden trails is a great way to keep the kids entertained, whether on foot or by bike.

Australia's largest marketplace is a great place for a weekend family visit, with over 400 food and variety stalls and attractions to spend time exploring. Take a stroll through the newest Gold Coast attraction, the Butterfly House, where you can get up close to Australian butterflies in a beautiful garden setting. A visit to Family Fun Lane will see kids spending hard-earned pocket money on colourful face painting, pony rides, bungy trampolining and mini-golf (note there is a small charge to visit the Butterfly House and to play mini-golf).

This is one of the best family beaches on the Gold Coast, with so many adventures to be had along the sandy banks on both sides of the picturesque creek. Kids can swim or paddle in the calm turquoise waters on the patrolled beach side of Tallebudgera and hunt for soldier crabs on the inlet beyond the bridge. Across the water on the Burleigh Head National Park side is Echo Beach, a white crescent of sand that feels more like a desert island. Afterwards grab a coffee and treat the kids to dessert at nearby Custard Canteen.

You don't have to enter Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary to experience the bird-feeding that started at this iconic Gold Coast attraction 70+ years ago. Every day at 8am and 4pm the colourful rainbow lorikeets flock to these sessions where visitors get to hold out their plates with a sprinkling of bird seed and watch the feeding frenzy. All it costs is a gold coin donation for a plate of food.

One of the most magical places to picnic on the entire Gold Coast is on Burleigh Hill. Perched high on Burleigh Headland with breath-taking views north along the entire coastline to Surfers Paradise and Stradbroke Island, the grassy area has plenty of space to join the locals and spread a picnic rug. There's a nearby playground for kids to release some energy as well as a walking path that leads right around the Burleigh Head National Park.

Spend a day out with the family chasing waterfalls in the Gold Coast Hinterland, from the well-known spectacular waterfalls to hidden local gems. Check out Cedar Creek Falls at Mt Tamborine, where you can view the cascades and swim in the rock pools, or head to Springbrook where you can see the majestic Purling Brook Falls and Twin Falls that tumble from a great height. Down below in the Currumbin Valley you'll find the beautiful Cougal Cascades and at nearby Lamington National Park the lush Elabana Falls are also worth a visit.

One of the Gold Coast's best kept secrets is this ethereal 1200 ha nature reserve of wetlands, eucalypt forests, salt marshes and mangrove swamps. Home to 274 animal species, the park is perfect for long and short walks, bike riding and bird watching, with the chance to spot koalas, powerful owls and grey-headed flying foxes as well as kangaroos. In the open grasslands off Rain Tree Glen entrance you can see the kangaroos feeding and lazing around in the shade or out in the open areas. Note that the park is open daily from 6am until 6pm, when the gates are shut for the evening.

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