Australia's sixth largest city, Gold Coast in Queensland, is known as a surfer's paradise, where boarders try to tame the swell lashing the 70-km stretch of white sandy beaches. However, come April 4 to 15, attention moves from the beaches to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, the largest sporting festival in the history of the city, as 6,600 athletes from 71 nations train their sights on Gold.
Since winning the bid to host the Games seven years ago, the city has invested millions into upgrading its sporting and rail infrastructure, as well as building new hotels and resorts. The Games have done a lot more than just change Gold Coast's skyline. Here's what to look forward to:
Say hello to 'the G'
In the city of sun and surf, thousands of tourists and regular Gold Coasters will traverse the city to watch their favourite sporting action. But will rush-hour traffic be a nightmare? Not if they 'Ride the G', which is a new AUD$450M light rail system that connects Gold Coast to Brisbane. Trams will run 24/7 at six-minute intervals during rush hour, offering direct access to arts and cultural activities at Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise. Travellers can jump on and off as they please.
Home of the Arts
The city has - since the early 1960s - promoted creativity and art, and the 'Gold Coast Cultural Precinct', a swanky new facility built over 16.9 hectares, will be ground zero for drama, music, dance, art, new media and public sculpture during and after the Games. The precinct - within walking distance of Surfers Paradise - will be a haven for all things creative.
Surfing the menu
If sporting action throughout the day helps you you work up an appetite, then head to the night market of Night Quarter and Miami Marketta for street food and organic dining at Mandala Organic Arts Café, which serves up raw pad thai or raw pizzas made with house-made cashew cheese.
The Star Gold Coast offers guests a fine dining experience, with themed nights on the lawn, giant screens, live concerts and the chance to meet some top athletes as well. Nineteen at The Star is The Star Gold Coast's new signature venue, positioned 19 floors above the coast. It boasts a rooftop restaurant and an uber-chic lounge bar. That's not all, the Garden Kitchen & Bar offers guests an opportunity to enjoy a meal on the sun-drenched deck or even to talk sport on the lush green lawn. Either way, you'll enjoy a laidback vibe and stylish, light-filled spaces.
Kiyomi offers visitors the authentic taste of Tokyo, without having to make the long-haul flight. As they explore the innovative dishes and drinks on offer, guests will quickly see why Kiyomi has earned its reputation as one of the Gold Coast's most talked-about restaurants.
A short drive south of the revamped Pacific Fair lies Palm Beach, a seven-kilometre long-suburb and one of the newest coastal foodie precincts. Three new outlets have joined the already popular Jimmy Hendrix-inspired Hendrixx Espresso and American BBQ-style eatery, Lester and Earl.
Then there's The Collective, which is the Gold Coast's newest dining paradise. It boasts five restaurants and two bars, accommodating 300 diners in an open outdoor dining setting, also featuring live musical acts.
The tallest, fastest and longest
If you think only the sprinters competing on track live life in the fast lane, think again. The DC Rivals Hypercoaster, the fastest hypercoaster in the southern hemisphere, located at Warner Bros. Movie World offers visitors a chance to feel the rush, travelling at 115kmph over 1.4km. You can also make your child's dream come true at the Looney Tunes Dance Party, as they meet their favourite toons in the middle of the Main street at the theme park.
So whether you're an athlete or a casual fan, the Gold Coast has something in store for you, be it the beach, drama, music or simply watching your favourite sportsmen sprint, dribble or Pirouette their way to Gold.
For more information on Gold Coast & Queensland, visit: www.queensland.com