If Surfers isn't your idea of paradise, hit the highway and head south. As Emily McAuliffe reports, fewer tourists, fine dining, fun bars and low-key markets give the Southern Gold Coast region a mellow appeal.

Postcard view

When you climb the Eiffel Tower for a panoramic view of Paris, a crucial landmark is hidden from view – the Eiffel Tower. Similarly, when you climb Q1 in Surfers Paradise, you can’t appreciate the spire of one of the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest residential buildings. Hence, the Gold Coast’s picture-perfect view is from the wide promenade linking Kirra and Coolangatta (Marine Parade), where waves roll out beneath you and skyscrapers to the north, including Q1, emerge out of a soft sea mist in the distance. 

Sunday session

Heading to a Gold Coast surf lifesaving club might sound clichéd but the clubs remain firm local favourites. For the best position on the Southern Gold Coast it’s a toss-up between the Currumbin and Palm Beach clubs, depending on whether you want to be perched over the ocean or nestled amid the sand dunes while you sip a sundowner.

Free entertainment

Late every Sunday afternoon, the Southern Gold Coast community gathers in Justins Park in Burleigh Heads (The Esplanade) to watch local performers. Bongo drummers provide a soundtrack for fire twirlers, tightrope walkers, hula hoopers and anyone up for a dance. Grab a gourmet pizza from the always packed Justin Lane across the road and stretch out on a blanket to watch the festivities unfold.

Coffee experience

No, we’re not talking about sipping a latte by the beach while scanning the day’s news (though you can do that, too); this is about getting hands-on. Keen to share their coffee obsession with the world, the crew at Barefoot Barista in Palm Beach offers free 30-minute barista classes every Saturday at 1pm.

Natural wonder

Inland from the Gold Coast’s southern beaches is Springbrook National Park, which forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests. Here you can choose from a variety of hiking trails, including a 1.5-kilometre circuit to Natural Bridge, where you can admire a waterfall cascading over an arched rock formation by day and the glitter of thousands of glow worms in an adjoining cave by night.

SEE ALSO: Five Great Experiences on the Gold Coast

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