An Indigenous local’s guide to Southern Gold Coast
When you’re born and bred on the this state’s southern beaches like Trish Kane, it’s impossible not to feel a connection to the ocean. There’s also fewer people better placed to tell you about the Indigenous significance of the Gold Coast.
Because she’s also a Yugambeh woman and seventh generation Traditional Owner, she has an even deeper connection to the land and sea, passed down through the generations along with the traditions and customs of her people. Yugambeh people have lived in the Gold Coast region for thousands of years, fishing the creeks and estuaries, making their homes in the rainforest and using the resources that the land provides.
If you visit the Gold Coast today, you can still find many traces of her ancestors – if you know where to look. That’s where Trish comes in: as an Aboriginal guide at Jellurgal, she helps to keep Yugambeh customs and stories alive by sharing them with visitors and giving them the chance to see the land through the eyes of her people.
Below, she shows us ’round her beautiful corner of the world.
Stand-up paddleboarding is the unofficial sport of the Southern Gold Coast – and Trish’s family is no exception. Most weekends you’ll find them paddleboarding or kayaking along the calm, flat waters of Tallebudgera and Currumbin Creeks. You don’t have to be an expert to give it a go: rent a board (or kayak if you prefer) and spend an hour or two exploring the creeks and tributaries in and around Burleigh Heads and Currumbin.
Sometimes they swap their boards for rods and fish for whiting, flathead and bream in Tallebudgera (it means “good fish” in their language). One of Trish’s favourite Dreamtime stories is of the elder Gowanda, who died only to return as a dolphin. He taught the other dolphins how to round up the fish and drive them to shore for our people to catch. Perhaps this is why it’s still such a good fishing spot today.
When people think of the Gold Coast, they usually think of the busy beaches and skyscrapers of Surfers Paradise, but down the southern end, it couldn’t be more different. Wandering along the quiet, unspoilt beaches at Kirra, Greenmount and Coolangatta, it’s not unusual to have the entire beach to yourself.
Hiking around the Dreaming Mountain – Jellurgal to the Indigenous people – is deeply connected to culture and country. Trish’s teachings about the region and sharing of her people’s stories show the land in a completely new light. When you’re taken around the headland you’ll be amazed at how many ancient sites and sacred spaces there are – and yet, without an Aboriginal guide to show you, you’d have walked right past without even knowing.
Tip: Keep your camera handy, because native wildlife-spotting is virtually guaranteed. Burleigh Head National Park is home to water dragons, tree snakes and a huge variety of birds from kookaburras to nesting sea eagles.
Just a 45-minute drive west is another of Trish’s favourite places – Springbrook National Park in the World Heritage-listed Gondwana rainforest. Yugambeh people have lived in this region for thousands of years and many places still bear their original Aboriginal names.
If you’re up for a bit of an adventure, tackling the 4km twin falls circuit is a great way to spend an afternoon (and take a break from the summer heat). The track takes you down into the canyon, across streams and through subtropical rainforest to reach two spectacular waterfalls.
If you’ve got time afterwards, take a detour to the Natural Bridge for a nocturnal guided tour of the basalt cave famous for its glow-worm and microbat colonies (always a hit with the kids).
If the fish aren’t biting, you can still fill up at one of the Southern Gold Coast’s many amazing eateries. If you look, you’ll find plenty of smaller cafes away from the hustle and bustle.
Down 2 Earth Organics at Palm Beach is Trish’s local breakfast tip – their fresh fruit acai bowls pair perfectly with balmy days and salty air. For amazing burgers, toasted sandwiches and locally brewed beer on tap, settle in at The Boatshed, Currumbin (as an added bonus you can also hire paddle boards there).
If you prefer your food to come with the best view in town, just head for the nearest Surf Club: Burleigh and Greenmount in Coolangatta are local go-tos.
WHEN TO VISIT
With hot summers and sunny, mild winters, the Southern Gold Coast is a bit of an all-rounder. The water temperatures are still high enough to swim even in the coldest months.