Student travel: 7 ways to make your budget last on the Gold Coast
Between the mid-year break, enviably long summer, and flexible timetable, the university calendar allows for plenty of downtime. If you’re lucky enough to be studying in Queensland, you already have all you need to experience the untouched beauty of the mountains, sand and surf right on the Gold Coast. All you need to do is flash your student card to unlock countless unique experiences that will stay with you for life.
Read on for some student travel tips that will help you make the most of the Gold Coast:
First things first, sorting out your transit expenses will save you plenty of time and money. A student Go Card offers holders 50% the adult fare. It’s a blessing for both getting to and getting around the Gold Coast, costing less than six dollars to catch the train from the bustle of Brisbane to the soft white sands of Surfers Paradise.
If you’re travelling around the Gold Coast’s metropolitan areas like Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, and Main Beach, go by tram. Common in Melbourne, trams are a rare sight in tropical Queensland, yet they’re one of the fastest and cheapest modes of transport, cars included.
Make the most of the sun, sand and surf
A classic beach trip is a must-do of any summer holiday. With 57km of coastline framing the eastern edge of the Gold Coast, there’s no shortage of sand to claim as your own.
Get back to nature
Around this lush and verdant terrain is where you’ll find 100,000 hectares of World-Heritage listed Gondwana Rainforest stretching across the Springbrook and Lamington National Parks. Each patch of parkland is marbled with plenty of walking tracks to take you through rainforests and waterfalls (Springbrook’s Natural Bridge is a must-see for any waterfall appreciant), and bring you up close to native wildlife.
Set up camp in the dense rainforest of the Binna Burra section of Lamington National Park, or, for breathtaking views, head over to the Green Mountains section to begin your hike. If you really want to get off grid, head further west to surround yourself with the rugged landscape of Mount Barney National Park. Alternatively, get the best of both worlds with the ocean and rainforest sections of Burleigh Head National Park, and stay close to all the action.
But if it’s a real challenge you’re after, take on the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk. Over 54km in length, this trek was listed as one of the best hiking trails in the region. It will take you through ancient Gondwana Rainforest and along the rim of ancient volcanic formations.
The Yugambeh Aboriginal people have roamed this area for thousands of years. Heed their advice when they say ‘this is special land – walk carefully’.
For a greater connection with the land you won’t easily find anywhere else, check out this guide to the southern Gold Coast as told by an Indigenous local.
Shop at local markets
Perusing market stalls is a whole activity of itself. The bustle of the crowds and vendors creates an almost electric atmosphere and infectious excitement. And that’s before you’ve even spent a cent.
Every week there are plenty of markets in the Gold Coasts different boroughs, each one catering to a slightly different vibe every time. Markets like the Organic Farmers Markets brings you up close with local growers spruiking the season’s finest. The slightly rowdier, after-dark clamour of the Miami Marketta allows punters to sample from a broad range of cuisines without breaking the bank.
For live music and delicious street food, head down to the Village Markets at Burleigh Heads on the first and third Sunday morning of every month. Over the years this bi-monthly ritual has become something of a community event, where sustainable shopping and local makers are brought to the fore. If you’re looking for a bona fide piece of coastal culture to take back with you, this is where you’ll find it.
Don’t get rained out
South East Queensland is just as famous for thunderstorms as it is for sunshine and clear skies. If the storm clouds gather during your time on the Gold Coast, there is still plenty of excitement to be had indoors.
Enter the alternate universe at Infinity and get lost in a psychedelic maze of mirrors, strobes, and optical illusions. Up the road, King Tutt’s Putt Putt offers mini golf Book online to save and don’t forget to take your student ID for a sweet discount that will leave change for some more discounted fun at Timezone in Coolangatta.
Bunk with your mates
Staying true to the credo of affordable student travel by grabbing a few mates and heading to a backpackers. Backpackers like Bunk are equipped with everything you need for a long or short stay, and super accessible located mere metres from the hive of activity on Cavill Avenue.
As well as being super affordable for even the tightest of student budgets, staying at a backpackers like Bunk opens you up to meeting fellow student travellers from all over the globe. Because nothing beats sinking tinnies and making mischief with a ragtag pack of strangers.
Camp on South Stradbroke Island
A day trip to north Straddie is a well-worn track by locals and tourists alike. Escape the traffic from the holidaymakers on the north side and catch a water taxi down to South Stradbroke Island for a bush camping trip.
The southern part of the island is a sprawling wilderness of pristine bushland, bounded by calm waterways and a virtually untouched shoreline. At the South Currigee Campground, you can pitch your tent right on the beach and be lulled to sleep by the sounds of the ocean every night.
Being that the campground is in a Conservation Park, campers share the beach with plenty of local wildlife. Keep an eye out for Straddie’s golden swamp wallabies on your daily adventures along the hiking trails. If you can time your trip between June and October you might even be able to see some humpback whales migrating north during breeding season.