Queensland: Surfers Paradise
January 1, 1970
by Tash Knight
With the knowledge of a big travel sale, savings behind us and our passports in hand, we headed into our local travel agents, flicked through a couple of brochures and were drawn to the promise of sun, sand and surf. And it delivered.
Heading over at the beginning of February, we knew it would be hot. Very hot. Auckland was having a hot muggy summer, but nothing can describe the heat and humidity on a 34 degree Celsius day, the average for Gold Coast in Summer. And what better to do, on a day with a “feels like” temperature of 37 degrees celcuis, than put on a full length jumpsuit, a safety harness and a sun hat, and climb Australia’s tallest outdoor observation area, the Q1 buildings SkyPoint climb. 270m up in the sky, we got the most amazing view I’ve witnessed yet. From Coolangatta in the south, to Brisbane in the north on a good day. The sea stretches in to the horizon, and the mountains peak on the other side. I can’t lie. The climb itself was absolutely terrifying. Single file up narrow, steep ladder, with a handrail on one side, and drop to the other. Despite several reassurances that the safety cables combined could sustain the weight of a car, I didn’t fancy trying my luck leaning over the edge. Gold Coast city isn’t as well known for its waterways, despite them being nine times the length of Venice’s, but from so high up there’s no denying how far they spread. It’s hard to find a house in Gold Coast that isn’t a 30 seconds walk from some sort of water. After plenty of photo’s, history lesson’s (both on the development of Gold Coast and the various surrounding shipwrecks) and a game of “Spot your hotel”, it was time to head down the equally as narrow, steep stairs, and back inside to take off those jumpsuits. Swiftly followed by a drink upstairs on the observation deck, and one of the greatest burgers I’ve ever had.
Heading to “The GC” in February is prime time for pre-uni students/18-25 year olds fitting in a summer break. And with that come nightclubs and partying. And promoters. Everywhere. Stood to the side of the streets, sat on the curbs, in beachfront gardens all trying to sell you pub crawl passes. We caved, and invested in a three night pass. Town in Gold Coast has an extremely relaxed dress code – for girls. Boys it’s the same old button up shirts and trousers, girls its “wear whatever you like”. The guy we bought our tickets off excitedly told us, “you can even go out in just your thongs!” Cue two VERY confused faces, until it clicked – the Australian word for flip flops is thongs. The promise of free drinks and free bar entry drew us in, and all three nights were a blast. New friends were made and so were mistakes. But ending the first night on the beach with our toes in the sand and a sneaky little paddle will be a night to never forget. You can’t beat the view of a metropolitan area at night!
You can’t head to Gold Coast, without checking out the theme parks. We spent around £50 on an unlimited entry pass to Wet’n’wild, Warner Brothers Movie world and Seaworld. Spending that little bit more meant that on afternoons when we had nothing major planned, we could head to a theme park and ride some rollercoasters. An adrenaline junkies dream! I’d not researched any of the theme parks before buying tickets, but loved the Movie world roller coasters – and the best part? My favorite rollercoaster (Arkham Asylum – The Joker inspired) was the least popular and very rarely had long queues! We spent an afternoon at Wet’n’wild, and that was the perfect amount of time there. The one thing we weren’t expection on arrival was if you wanted to go on a slide that required ‘rafts’, you had to carry them up the steep hill/stairs yourselves. If that wasn’t the case, we probably would have spent more time there. A highlight was the ‘wave pool’ – a beach themed pool, with a wave cycle. Like swimming in the sea, but with the safety of lifeguards there at any moment. And the bonus – no salt water in your eyes!
Getting around Surfers Paradise is EASY. Within walking distance are at least three supermarkets, a small mall and all the souvenir shops you can imagine. Running through the main street – Surfers Paradise Boulevard – is the tramline. Hop on and it’s a 10-minute ride down to Pacific Fair mall. There is a range of every shop you can imagine, but unsurprisingly a high percentage of shops are geared towards surf and street style clothing. We spent an afternoon here, popping into all the shops that took our fancy, stopped for a quick meal in the food court, and picked up some fresh fruit and veggies from the indoor market. Getting too and from the airport is easy – plenty of shuttles around, and they’re all inexpensive!
We had a day planned to spend down at the beach, basking in the sun and trying to avoid sunburn (thanks to the palest of English skin!). Of course, an obligatory stop at Ben and Jerry’s was made! Easily found near the waterfront, and surrounded by plenty of other eateries, you’re never short of places to head for dinner! We treated ourselves and on our second to last night, headed into the Hard Rock Café to have another amazing burger. Gold Coast has got its burger making abilities down to a T!
As well as plenty of shops, the Chevron Rennaissance center is home to the Infinity Maze. A half hour experience that tests all your senses. We got stuck in the galaxy themed room – a mirrored room with fiber optic-esque lights embedded into the walls. They kept the exit door locked for a while, leaving us to walk around in circles, doubting that we were headed the right way. Once we made it through, it was onto a pitch black room, with ropes, chains and air vents providing distractions to getting through. A room full of yoga balls to bounce around on and a photo op ended the experience. I don’t know whether I’d do it again, but I’d definitely do another version in a different city, for a different experience.