One Hour From: Brisbane

There's gold on that Australian coast
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The Independent Travel

Ride the waves off the coast of Australia and overdose on the wildlife.

Ride the waves off the coast of Australia and overdose on the wildlife.

Gold Coast

With more than 35 beautiful beaches to choose from, Queensland's Gold Coast is a must for all sun-seekers and surfers. Fun lovers can choose from the many theme parks here, including Warner Brothers Movie World, Wet 'n' Wild Water World, Sea World and Dreamworld. For wildlife, check out the crocs, koalas and kangaroos at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and David Fleay Wildlife Park.

By car: head south on the M1 Pacific Motorway; journey time about one hour. By train: frequent Airtrain service from Central Station; journey time about one hour.

Sunshine Coast

Stretching from Bribie Island to Noosa Heads, the Sunshine Coast is known for its fine surfing beaches and national parks. Savvy travellers spend most of the their time in Noosa, which has a fine selection of exclusive hotels and top restaurants. Noosa National Park boasts spectacular coastal walks and a string of bays on the northern side with waves that draw surfers from around the globe.

By car: head north on the Bruce Highway and follow signs; journey time about one hour. By bus: frequent coach service from the Transit Centre; journey time about one hour.

Couran Cove

Fitness fanatics flee to the Couran Cove Resort (00 61 75 597 9000; www.couran.com) on South Stradbroke Island, a complex developed by 1960s Australian track legend Ron Clarke. The sporting facilities are so good that the British Olympic team used it as its training base before the 2000 Games in Sydney. Expect some 27km (17 miles) of unspoilt beach, protected dunes, rainforest and wetlands. Couran Cove is completely environmentally friendly: no cars are allowed, only bikes and emission-free buggies.

By car and boat: take the M1 Pacific Motorway to the Runaway Bay Ferry Terminal, then short ferry journey; journey time about one hour plus.

Peppers Hidden Vale

Get to grips with the outback at the country retreat of Peppers Hidden Vale (00 61 75 465 5900; www.peppers.com.au). Set in the Lockyer Valley, a spectacular area flanked by the Little Liverpool range of mountains, Peppers offers luxury accommodation in recently restored Queenslander-style cottages alongside a first-class restaurant that used to be a homestead. Peppers dates back to the 1800s when there were 13,000 sheep grazing on 384,000 acres. Today, the site is still a working cattle station. Activities include mountain biking and walking trails.

By car: take the Ipswich then Cunningham Highway and follow signs; journey time approx one hour.

Glass House Mountains

The Glass House Mountains are an ethereal group of volcanic crags sticking up from the coastal plain. Some of the peaks reach up to 300m and were believed by Aborigines to be a family of mountain spirits. The most distinctive is thought to be the father spirit, Tibrogargan. There are many well-marked walking trails on Tibrogargan, as well as on Beerwah and Ngungun. Good grip walking boots are highly recommended.

By car: take the Bruce Highway and follow signs; journey time approx 45 mins.

Australia Zoo

Home to the infamous Aussie croc hunter Steve Irwin, Australia Zoo is a total wildlife experience. The zoo has daily croc and alligator shows, as well as shows featuring snakes, birds of prey and other wildlife. Koalas, wallabies, giant land tortoises and iguanas are all found at the zoo, along with a wide variety of snakes.

By car: take the Bruce Highway and follow signs; journey time about one hour plus. By train and bus: catch the frequent Crocodile Train from Central Station to Beerwah, then free courtesy coach; journey time about one hour plus.

Further Information

Quest Travel (0870 442 3513; www.questtravel.com) offers return flights with Air Malaysia from £759 per person. Saville Abbey one-bedroom self-catering apartments in Brisbane cost from £22 per person per night and car hire cost from £29 per day. For further information, Australia Travellers Guide (0906 863 3235) calls cost 60p per minute or visit www.australia.com.

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