With only 200 days to go (and counting) until the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games kick off on April 4, 2018, athletes from around the world are ramping up their preparations with increased early mornings, late nights, strict diets and endless hours of practice.
But what about the common folk? The non-talented athlete types? How do they prepare for the biggest sporting event in Australia this decade?
The simple answer is if you can't take part in the Games, watch them. But how much sweeter would the viewing be if you can sit around with mates and casually add, “I've actually swum in that pool” or “yeah, the Athletes' village looks nice but you should see it from the air”? The gloating opportunities are sublime.
If you're thinking about soaking up the Gold Coast sun before the Commonwealth Games begin next year, here are 15 things you should add to your Queensland itinerary to ensure you have the ultimate 'been there, done that' bragging rights.
1. Punch out some laps in the actual Commonwealth Games pool
The Gold Coast Aquatic Centre is open and for less than the cost of two cups of coffee you can swim up and down the competition pool until you start to grow gills. Better still, during school holidays the dive boards are open for an extra $3 per person.
2. Let the good times roll
Bare foot bowls on a Sunday afternoon with a cold bevvie in your hand = bliss. Broadbeach Bowls Club will be the home for the Commonwealth Games Lawn Bowls competition and it is only metres from the beach if you fancy a dip beforehand. Their Sunday-sesh runs from 9am to 9pm and you can score two hours of green time for only $7 per person.
3. Eat your way through a foodies' triathlon
The dining scene on the Gold Coast has gone from 'the new kid on the block' to 'gold medal contender' in recent years. Hungry wannabe athletes can carb-load their way through three of the best foodie neighbourhoods on the coast – Broadbeach, Burleigh Heads and the newcomer, Palm Beach.
4. Get to the choppa!
The Commonwealth Games has seen the development of four new facilities (along with upgrades to 12 others) on the Gold Coast including the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre and the Coomera Indoor Sports Centre. The best way to see the transformation of the region as well as the stunning coastline is from the air with Sea World Helicopters.
5. Do your best Kath and Kim impression
Get out the active wear, a one-coloured velour tracksuit or short shorts (looking at you Kel Knight) and tackle the racewalk track on the Currumbin beachfront between Currumbin Creek and Kropp Park. Feeling a bit more leisurely? Leave the aggressive walking arms for someone else, grab a coffee from The Salt Mill and enjoy the view.
6. Don't be board
If the Gold Coast could nominate two sports worthy of Commonwealth Games inclusion, they would be surfing and stand up paddle boarding (SUP). It doesn't matter if you prefer the waves or creeks like Currumbin and Tallebudgera; just hire a board and go for it.
7. Get muddy
Nerang National Park and Nerang State Forest will host the mountain bike cross country competition, but you can tackle the courses now. Get the adrenalin pumping and see a completely different side of the Gold Coast as you race down the bush tracks on two wheels.
8. Get your coffee fix from sporting royalty
Robbie McEwen's name might ring a bell. You know, the guy who won three Tour de France green jerseys and represented Australia at three Olympic Games. He's hung up the lycra in a professional sense and is now churning our winning coffees at his own Miami based café, Piccolo Espresso. How many times has an Australian sporting legend served you a coffee?
9. Lift weights with the pros
Not everyone thinks about going to the gym on holidays. But if you do, you might as well go to a gym frequented by Commonwealth Games hopefuls. International sprinters and weightlifters are some of the athletes based at KDV Sport which is right across from Carrara Stadium and the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre. Not much of a gym-junkie? KDV Sport has 20 tennis courts, 40 golf driving range bays and an 18-hole mini-golf course.
10. Practice your digs, spikes and pancakes
Beach volleyball is a classic Aussie pastime, but if you're going to have a game on the sand, you might as well make it Cooloongatta Beach, home of the #GC2018 volleyball competition. Beach volleyball in summer will cause quite the sweat, luckily there's plenty of nearby beaches and bars to cool down in afterwards.
11. Explore the green behind the gold
The Gold Coast is synonymous with beautiful beaches, but the hinterland, the 'green behind the gold' is teeming with bush walks, waterfalls, natural swimming holes and boutique restaurants and cafes. There are many places worth visiting – Natural Arch and Purling Brook Falls should be high on your list.
12. Shoot hoops in Townsville
Townsville, along with Cairns, will host the preliminary rounds of the basketball competition and the courts on The Strand are a spectacular place to shoot some hoops. While you're there, Magnetic Island is well worth a visit and is just a free-throw across the water.
13. Follow in the footsteps of Patty Mills
Sticking to basketball, follow in the footsteps of Commonwealth Games ambassador and Aussie basketball star Patty Mills by checking out Vlassof Cay, a pristine crescent of white sand just off the coast of Cairns (and only accessible by helicopter) or heading further north to the Torres Strait.
14. Have you heard of the Great Barrier Reef?
With 1.5 billion people watching the Commonwealth Games you can guarantee people will be talking about the Great Barrier Reef, Australia's most precious natural resource and Queensland's gift to the world. If the rest of the world is talking about something in your backyard that you haven't seen, you'll feel like the guys Steven Bradbury beat all those years ago. Now is the time to tick this natural beauty off your bucket list.
15. Politely wave at the Queen's Baton
The Queen's Baton Relay will take an epic journey throughout Queensland visiting the tropical north, outback Queensland and everything in between. Check out the route here and plan a couple days of epic sightseeing around the event that will bring our towns alive.
For more information please contact:
Jarrod Meakins, Tourism and Events Queensland
Phone: 07 3535 5027 / 0411 329 087
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