48 hours on the Gold Coast

If you like to pack more than board wax, a tank top and a party attitude for your trips to the Gold Coast, there are plenty of top-end experiences to be discovered among the glitz.

By Mal Chenu
Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk
Luxury accommodation abounds along the strip and Palazzo Versace is a good place to begin your search for five-star pampering. It's just a stroll to Marina Mirage Shopping Centre, replete with up-market purveyors of fashion and accessories, including Hermés, George Gross Harry Who, Carla Zampatti and Tommy Hilfiger.
Peppers Broadbeach is a double high-rise offering serviced apartments with 24-hour room service, nearby upscale dining options such as Ten Japanese Restaurant (home of an omakase eight-course feast), Social Eating House, No Name Lane, and the funky biscuits, super foods and exercise advice at BSKT Café just down the road at Mermaid/Nobby Beach.
QT in Surfers is a quirky accommodation alternative to the mainstream milieu with eclectic (some say weird) décor, a spa and two restaurants and bars.
A weekend away from your favourite barista can be stressful but GC has plenty of cafés ready to step up to the plate. Black Coffee Lyrics in central Surfers Paradise is a cool venue from the morning java pick-me-up to late evening cocktails with live music. The breakfast menu features intriguing poached egg options as well as black rice pudding and more conventional fare. Tapas, share plates and gourmet pizzas are de rigeur throughout the day.
Elk Espresso in Broadbeach is secular in the extreme with boardies, macarons and milkshakes (try the crème brûlée thick shake) mixing it up with more seasoned aficionados who take their beans with brioche French toast. If you're hanging out down near Palm Beach, try one of eight different brews at Chill In Café on Fifth Avenue.
Arty types should head to Gold Coast City Gallery in the Arts Centre and see collections themed as Australian Art, Gold Coast and Beach Culture. Check out The Rainforest by William Robinson, whose purchase created a hullaballoo that echoed the Whitlam Government's 1972 purchase of Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles. Gallery One at Southport and Anthea Polson Art at Main Beach are also worth a look.
If you prefer mountain air to the salty variety, GC's hinterland is breathing new gastronomic life into the region. Mt Tamborine and surrounds - which you can reach by helicopter if that's the way you swing - boast stunning rainforests and gardens, bushwalks, wineries, breweries and spas.
Songbirds Rainforest Retreat offers six luxury villas and a multi-award winning restaurant or you can head out to nearby up-market venues including The Old Church and Pethers Rainforest Restaurant.
Witches Chase Cheese factory raves about its Mt Tamborine camembert (aka Tambembert) and you can unleash your inner masterchef at Terri Taylor's Tamborine Cooking School while taking a class in French, Middle Eastern, Asian and Aussie cuisines.
And don't miss the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk and Eco-Gallery with views of rock pools, a butterfly lookout and canopies from a 40-metre long cantilever, 30 metres above the valley and the fine liqueurs, schnapps and vodka at the nearby boutique Tamborine Mountain Distillery.