On the southeastern coast of Queensland, Australia is the beach city known as the Gold Coast and my home. This coastline of Australia is a popular place to live because of the beautiful beaches but it is also a hot spot for tourists and accessible for those with access needs.
The following is a local travel guide I created addressing the accessibility of different areas and attractions along the Gold Coast. I hope you enjoy exploring this part of Australia as much as I do!
Burleigh Heads is a suburb of the Gold Coast famous for its local beach of the same name. That infamous postcard picture of the Gold Coast city skyline is taken from Burleigh Heads headland looking back over the city. This should be on your to-do list when visiting the Gold Coast.
There are a number of accessible parking spaces along the beachfront with easy access to the sidewalk that runs the full length of the beach. The most popular part of the beach is at the southern end of the Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park Surf Lifesaving Club. If you are feeling adventurous and have some time to kill, head north up the sidewalk to the North Burleigh Surf Club which has a great “hole in the wall” coffee shop! It is quite a distance from one end to the other but the sidewalk is in good condition, there are no hills and it is in shade most of the day.
If you head south on the sidewalk it takes you to the headland where there is quite an incline before you reach the top. You’ll be fine if you’re in a power wheelchair or if you’re in a manual chair and are particularly good at hills. If the hill doesn’t bother you, you can also continue further along the sidewalk into the Burleigh Heads National Park. The national park sidewalk is not great; it is what some would consider “off-roading.” The pavement is cracked in parts, missing in others and there is no railing in many parts.
If you are traveling on your own I would suggest getting a taxi to the headland (map to access Goodwin Terrace) and working your way North. If you are interested in venturing further, you can cross the main road and head to James Street. James Street is a hub of boutiques, restaurants, and cafés. There are also accessible parking spaces available on James Street.
There are accessible bathrooms located in the park adjacent to the surf club but they are not the best, the surf club is your best option.
There is nothing quite like spending a hot summer’s day or night in Surfers Paradise. Yes, it is cheesy and touristy but that’s the point! Since the early 1930’s Surfers Paradise has been known for its social atmosphere and nightlife. The foreshore and mall redevelopment was completed in 2014 and is a huge improvement in accessibility.
The beachfront and mall are all easily accessible. There are some patches of small pavers throughout the mall that make for a slightly bumpy ride. Accessible bathrooms are throughout the mall however the best and most reliable are in the Centro Shopping Center adjacent to the mall. Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday nights from 5pm to 10pm are the local night markets. They are a bit of fun and you can buy everything from magic tricks to a clay mold of your hand. The restaurants are great and most are accessible. Vapiano is an Italian restaurant on the second level of the Soul Mall. The lift is right out the front and there are no stairs! It’s a nice place to eat and the food is great.
The newest way of getting to Surfers Paradise is on the G:Link commonly known as a tram. The tram only runs from Broadbeach to Southport so you will have to organize other transportation to get back to your accommodation if you are not staying on or close to the tram line. Tickets can be purchased at the ticketing machines that are at each tram stop. There is not a lot of accessible parking available; two accessible spaces along the beach closest to the mall and two further up the beach. Centro Shopping Center has secure parking though there is a fee.
CURRUMBIN ROCK POOL’S
If you’re after a scenic drive, fresh air, and some cute Australian wildlife then a day trip to the Currumbin Rock Pools on the Gold Coast is for you!
Just a 30-minute drive south from Surfers Paradise is this local gem. There are two accessible parking spaces available, accessible bathrooms, and a barbeque area. The sidewalk runs to the water’s edge with a slight decline on the way down and an incline on the way back up. The area is very popular on weekends, especially in the summer so I would suggest a weekday visit if you can.
Getting to the rock pools is a bit tricky. The simplest way is to hire a car for the day. As it is not too far from civilization a taxi is also an option. Once you are there it is hard to believe you are so close to a city. The picturesque landscape is typical to most areas of Australia’s east coast.
Surfers Paradise was always known as the spot for the Gold Coast’s social scene. In the last few years Broadbeach has made quite a name for itself and may I be so bold as to say it has beat Surfers Paradise at its own game.
The recent development called the “Oracle Precinct” is now one of the most popular spots. Its perfect mix of dining options; bars, boutiques, and cafés make it a thriving little street with a great atmosphere. They’ve packed a lot into the one-way street at the base of the Oracle Hotel.
Broadbeach is highly accessible by public transport as it is just off the main highway. There is a bus stop just around the corner from the Oracle Precinct and the sidewalk is in good condition all the way. There are accessible parking spaces in the streets on either side of the precinct alternatively there is a multi-level car park across the road in the Oasis building, 3 hours for free. There are accessible bathrooms throughout Broadbeach but the best are in the Oasis Shopping Center, across the road from the precinct and attached to Broadbeach Mall.
Broadbeach on the Gold Coast has so much to offer. It is easy to get around, there is plenty of accessible accommodation in the area and the public transport is right at your door.
Just off the Pacific Motorway in Oxenford is the Warner Bros Movie World. The park has fantastic rides but if you’re not into rollercoasters there are a variety of other things to do; stunt shows, 3D movies, and arcade games just to name a few. The park gets very busy on the weekends and during school holidays. If you can arrange it, a weekday visit is always easier. The majority of the park is open air and it can be fairly unpleasant when it rains so pick your days wisely.
The park is very accessible and the staff is helpful. Movie World offers a discounted admission rate for guests with Physical disabilities requiring the use of a wheelchair, intellectual, aural, or visual disabilities, and carers. Guests who produce a Companion Card are entitled to one free-of-charge companion ticket so that their companion can provide attendant care support during the visit. Unfortunately, the cards listed that are accepted in the park are Australian or Commonwealth-issued cards only but most parks use common sense and you can use a current international card. There are no crazy hills within the park but there are no rides that you don’t have to transfer out of your wheelchair.
Seaworld is also a very accessible park on the Gold Coast. It is a little bit hilly in parts but nothing too crazy. The park is located at “The Spit” on Seaworld Drive in Main Beach. Seaworld has a fantastic area for you to “plan your day” with all the information you need to access the park.
Getting to either park is easy. There are a number of bus tours that go to the park but the regular Surf Side Buses go to Movie World. If you are driving there is plenty of accessible parking. There is reserved parking at the door for accessibility. If you don’t want to leave, Seaworld Nara Resort is right next door and they have plenty of accessible rooms.