The Gold Coast offers an intriguing mix of man-made and natural attractions, making it one of Australia’s most versatile holiday destinations. If you crave the luxury of casinos and private yachts, tick! If you seek the boho beach life surrounded by bronzed surfers, tick! If you enjoy splashing the cash in shops and markets, tick! If you’re looking for family-friendly theme parks, tick! If you’re a nature-lover with a thirst for adventure, tick! The list goes on.The Gold Coast covers an area of 1,400 square kilometres stretching from Beenleigh, south of the Queensland capital Brisbane, to the New South Wales border at Coolangatta Beach. Several seaside towns comprise the city of Gold Coast, making it Australia’s sixth-largest and home to more than half a million inhabitants. It started life as the Aboriginal settlement of Kurrungul, or “land of the sun”, before the Europeans arrived in the mid-19th century and began to develop its commercial potential.The tourist boom began to take off in earnest a century later, thanks to some of the best surfing beaches in Australia, notably Burleigh Beach and the appropriately named Surfers Paradise Beach. The latter, in particular, is also known for its excellent shopping and dining and vibrant nightlife, while nearby Coolangatta Beach is popular with families and swimmers because its sheltered position protects it from the bigger Pacific rollers.There’s no shortage of entertainment choices along the Gold Coast, which is the location of most of the country’s major theme parks. The marine-inspired Sea World offers a chance to learn more about sea creatures, while Movie World provides a glimpse of the hard work behind the glamour of the movie industry. Activity parks such as Wet’n’Wild Water World and Dreamworld offer state-of-the-art rides and a chance for thrill-seekers to let their hair down.Watersport fans have over 30 beaches to choose from along the coast, while walkers and rock climbers can head inland for challenging and picturesque routes that offer some of the best views in the area. Or take a scenic flight for an unrivalled bird’s-eye panorama of one of Australia’s jewels.The Gold Coast is a year-round destination, but it can be very busy in peak periods, especially during “Schoolies” (high school graduate celebrations) in November, when the fun can get a bit rowdy. The summer months of December to February are hot and humid, while June to August is dry and sunny, making it perfect for a temperate winter break.