For years, guys have flocked to the Gold Coast for long, hot days on the beach and even longer days in the city’s many watering holes. But the times they are a-changing. With the help of my mate Stefan, we discover there’s now plenty for guys to get up to on the Gold Coast beyond the iconic stretch of sand and hopping between the city’s bars.
We begin by heading to WRX Experience for hot laps on the 1.35km dirt track in a rally car. We’re thrown round the course by expert drivers who really know how to push the WRX STi Rally cars to the absolute limit, safely of course. Those who want to get behind the wheel can, with classes that talk you through it before you jump into the driver’s seat.
For a different kind of driving experience, climb onto a quad bike with ATV Adventures. The tours through the hinterland, in the Numinbah Valley, provide some of the most beautiful and underrated vistas of the Gold Coast. The fully automatic quads are easy to handle and without gear changes to think about, you’re able to take it all in while feeling the power through the quad’s throttle. We tackle rocky terrains, smooth hills and the shallow waters of nearby rivers along the way for a fantastic fun ride.
Stefan and I were also looking for a couple of activities that were a bit “different” so we head to Stunt Academy to learn a few tricks of the trade from stuntman Colin Handley. After a fun warm-up round on an obstacle course, we tackle the abseiling. I’m petrified of heights, so standing on top of a high platform is a challenge in itself, but for the first run we learn the techniques of a safe abseil down.
Stefan, ever the adrenaline enthusiast, zips down with no trouble. I look over the side and try to overcome my fear, though one of the instructors goes down with me and talks me through the whole thing.
Halfway through the final abseil, we’re taught how to get into an upside-down position and continue the abseil upside down. Somehow I manage it and feel very pleased I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone.
Next, we learn how to fly through the air and choreograph fight scenes with the help of a harness and wires. Finally, we’re introduced to sword fighting. After we run through a few routines, we choreograph our fight scene which is then filmed. We’re only there for a taster unfortunately, but those who book in for the whole course get to jump offa tall building and film an entire scene that pieces together all the elements you’ve completed for a true Hollywood-style epic. It’s a huge amount of fun that is unlike anything else we’ve ever done before.
For something even crazier, we head off for zorbing with Oz Ball. Harnessed inside a giant 3m ball and then pushed down a hill that’s been set-up like an obstacle course, we’re spinning in every direction and laughing all the way… perhaps to mask our terror. For extra fun, just add water. The hydro ride is a separate giant ball, only this time you’re not harnessed in and water’s added — it’s what I’d imagine it’s like to be inside a washing machine.
A trip to the Gold Coast will always incorporate the water. Jet Ski Safaris say they “specialise in fun and adventure”, the very things we’re looking for. After a safety briefing, we jump on board one of their fleet of jet skis. With a guide to take us out through the open water, we’re quickly experiencing the thrill and power of a jet ski.
Stefan, who is a little nervous at first, now seems to be incapable of releasing the throttle on his jet ski (you can reach up to 90km/h) and I’m struggling to keep up with him. It’s a huge amount of fun. “I’m getting one,” Stefan says to me at the end of the ride. I don’t doubt him. If the quad bike was some of the best fun on land, then the jet ski is the water equivalent.
Another way to spend time on the water is to jump into a sea kayak with Australian Kayaking Adventures. It’s by no means inferior; the kayak gives us the chance to enjoy the tranquility and the route often encounters dolphins. There’s a stop-off halfway on the tour to pull into a beach to indulge in some snorkelling, which is a welcome bonus. Tour guide Steve knows the area well, telling us all about the history and marine life on the Gold Coast.
Two things guys like to do on weekends away is golf and beer tasting. Sanctuary Cove is one of Australia’s best golf courses. Set among pristine grounds, the gated community is home to the wealthy. Nevertheless, we’re keen to have a go on the driving range with our PGA professional instructor Tim. After he observes us ripping out chunks of turf, he goes through training techniques and drills that help us learn the basics behind a decent drive. His methods clearly work — after a short while we’re both managing to hit the 150m mark.
Hitting golf balls in the sunshine is thirsty work, so we head down to Burleigh Brewing Company for a beer tasting. Owner and head brew master Brennan takes us on a guided tour of the factory — with beer in hand, of course — before he takes us through the selection of preservative-and chemical-free beers he produces. The delicious, crisp and fresh ales are just what we’re in need of after our adrenaline-filled adventure trip.
EAT AND DRINK
Of course, while on the Gold Coast you need somewhere to stay, to eat and, of course, to drink. We stayed at the newly built, stylish apartments at Peppers Broadbeach, and Jupiters Casino, where the high rolling continues in the suite long after you’ve left the gaming floor. For food, Moo Moo, the premier steakhouse on the Gold Coast, remains the place to go. The newly opened Salt Grill by Luke Mangan in the Hilton is another steakhouse worth a visit. The Greek-inspired Hellenika is another place for those in-the-know and if you think you’ve tried a better lamb shoulder, you’re dreaming. End with a beer tasting flight at the brand new Bavarian Bier Café in Broadbeach and you’re sorted.