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A newbie's guide to the Gold Coast

If you’re coming to the Gold Coast to study at Bond University, you might be wondering what your new home has to offer. Once a small regional town, the Gold Coast is now a thriving city that rivals Melbourne and Sydney and has the edge when it comes to beaches, nature walks and scenic day trips.

This gorgeous coastal city is brimming with things to see, do, eat and experience – the only question is, where do you start? Here are a few must-visit Gold Coast locations that every new resident should check out.

Home of the Arts (HOTA), Bundall

Stroll through gorgeous galleries, take in a show or wander through the beautiful parklands at the Home of the Arts, AKA HOTA. This is definitely one of the Gold Coast’s favourite spots for theatre, art, live music and events, and there’s always something exciting on. They also show an eclectic range of films in their cinemas and have an on-site cafe.

Distance from Bond: 20 minutes (9.6km)

Local’s tip: HOTA hosts a farmer’s market on Sunday mornings, which is a must-visit to stock up on your fresh produce and grab a bite from a food truck.

Miami Marketta, Miami

Live music, incredible food – what more could you want after a huge week at uni? Miami Marketta is a cool night market situated in a converted warehouse space, nestled in the back streets of Miami. See your favourite bands tear up the stage or simply head down to sample yummy food from local vendors.

Distance from Bond: 10 minutes (4.4km)

People are walking through a rainforest in Mount Tamborine.
Mount Tamborine is under an hour from the Bond campus, but feels like a completely different world, with old school shops and a beautiful rainforest backdrop

Sometimes you just need to get away, escape the stress of university life and change your scenery. Thankfully, there’s a diverse range of day trips up to a few hours’ drive from Bond. If you’re planning a weekend getaway, consider these spots first.

Mount Tamborine

Mount Tamborine is under an hour’s drive from Bond and has a cosy, small town feel framed with rolling hills and lush greenery. The main street houses everything from antique stores to fudge shops (sorry, shoppes), breweries and cute boutiques, making Mount Tamborine a go-to destination if you want to wind down for the weekend. Plus, it’s home to the Mount Tamborine rainforest if you feel like getting out into nature.

Distance from Bond: 45 minutes (37.7km)

Byron Bay

Byron might be a predictable day trip from the Gold Coast, but it’s popular for a reason – this town melds beautiful beaches with a very chilled-out atmosphere and lots of shops and cafes. Spend a lazy weekend in the sunshine, accompanied by good food and not a care in the world.

Distance from Bond: 1 hour, 20 minutes (86.2km)

We hope you love your time on the Gold Coast and at Bond University. For more recommendations of things to see and do near Bond, follow us on Instagram

Before you go…

Ready to head out? Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re beginning your Gold Coast adventures.

  • If you’re exploring during the day, always bring sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat – the Gold Coast experiences 300 days of sunshine a year!
  • There are a few ways to get around the Gold Coast, with the easiest being via car. However, public transport is available in most areas – we have a great bus system, plus trains and trams between central locations. There is a bus stop at Bond’s main campus, providing easy access to the rest of the Gold Coast and beyond. Check Translink for timetables and more information.
Snapper Rocks beach near the QLD-NSW border is a favourite surf spot amongst locals

Snapper Rocks, Coolangatta

Although the top surf zones on the Coast are hotly and regularly contended, one failsafe if you’re looking to catch a break is Snapper Rocks, located on Queensland’s border with New South Wales. The surf is always pretty great here, which is why you’ll see lots of locals out and about.

Distance from Bond:40 minutes (26.2km)

Burleigh Beach, Burleigh Heads

If you want to laze on the warm sand with a good book, a group of friends or some delicious hot chips, there’s only one place to be – Burleigh Beach. With a relaxed vibe and lots to see in the surrounding streets, plan your next beach day here.

Distance from Bond: 15 minutes (6.4km)

Local’s tip: Don’t want to drive? Catch the bus directly from Bond and make it in great time!

The Gold Coast is unrivalled when it comes to great restaurants and cafes

The Gold Coast has such a flourishing food scene that the idea of recommending just a handful of restaurants and cafes seriously gives us the sweats. Instead, here are some food hubs that you should explore during your time at Bond. Not enough time to frequent them all? Hmm, that Master’s degree is looking pretty sweet…

Burleigh Heads

We’ve established that Burleigh is the top spot when it comes to a beach day, but it’s also a foodie’s paradise. With restaurants, cafes and bars, as well as gelaterias, juice bars and more, everyone will find something satisfying here. Most restaurants are located on or nearby Burleigh’s main thoroughfare, James Street. 

Try: Tarte Bakery and Café, Hail Mary, Justin Lane Establishment, Nightjar, Jimmy Wah’s

Distance from Bond: 15 minutes (6.4km)


About 30 minutes north of Bond’s campus is Southport, a bustling suburb that’s full of great food from many cuisines. In particular, it’s a hub for Asian food, and has some of the best Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese restaurants on the Coast.

Try: JFX Noodle and Tapas, Mr P.P.’s Rooftop Deli and Bar, Ramen Danbo, The Cardamom Pod, Jafa

Distance from Bond: 25 minutes (13.4km)


Anywhere along the coastline is usually a safe bet for great food, and Broadbeach is definitely no exception. Just 15 minutes away from Bond, Broadbeach is always busy, and rightly so – there are so many spots here to eat and drink, from every cuisine you can think of.

Try: Maggie Choo, Social Eating House, Elk Espresso, Gemelli Italian, Double Zero, Mamasan Kitchen & Bar

Distance from Bond: 15 minutes (7.7km)

Bond & Varsity Lakes

Don’t forget, there are spots on and around the Bond University campus with great food and coffee. From Lakeside, located just a few paces from the Arch, to surrounding eateries in Varsity Lakes’ Market Square, you’ll never go hungry – check out this list of food recommendations close by.

Nature lovers will feel right at home on the Gold Coast, where there's a huge range of walks and natural environments to explore

One of the most unique things about the Gold Coast is our natural landscape – we’re situated right on the coast, so beaches are a given, but there’s also a lush hinterland on the other side just waiting to be explored. We’re talking parks, trails, mountains to climb and waterfalls to chase. If you’re into adventuring, you’ll be very satisfied by all your new home has to offer!

Discover the best walking tracks in and around the Gold Coast, perfect for the next time you need a study break.

Visit Miami Marketta for a fun night of amazing food and live music

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