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Australia's new multisport playground

Family Vacations, Summer

Australia's new multisport playground

Like Miami, Acapulco, and Waikiki, Australia's sunny Gold Coast in Queensland's southeast corner has been overrun by too many tourists and forests of high-rise resorts and condos. But now a much quieter stretch of sand can be had just offshore, at the brand-new, eco-conscious Couran Cove Resort on South Stradbroke Island, just 65 miles from Brisbane.

After a 15-minute ferry ride, you'll arrive at the sandy, pancake-flat, 14-mile-long-by-1.25-mile-wide island. Once there, you'll settle into one of the resort's 36 two- to three-bedroom beachside lodges or one of 140 one- to three-bedroom "eco" cabins (constructed of plantation-grown rather than forest-cut timber) with floors made of bamboo, kitchens, bathrooms, and TVs with Internet access.

Spend your days canoeing or sea kayaking in a 17-acre lagoon; windsurfing the calm waters of the mangrove-lined bay on the island's west side; or surfing along the eastern side's 12-mile ocean beach. Hop on a mountain bike or solar-powered scooter (cars are prohibited on the island) and explore the rainforest and woodlands, keeping an eye out for the rare Golden Swamp wallaby.

On weekends and during vacation periods (late July and early August), there's a children's activities club that lets kids play tennis, go crabbing, or join the junior ranger program. Beachside lodges are U.S.$176 per night; cabins are $98-$143. Call 011-61-7-5597-9000.

— Kara Ryan

Copyright 1999, Outside magazine

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