Among the skyscrapers on the Gold Coast
Trip Start May 01, 2010
58Trip End Oct 03, 2010
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Another first for us - staying in a caravan park located right on the waterfront and with views of high-rise buildings, but we first had to find this caravan park hidden among the skyscrapers of the Gold Coast.
When we did find it and drove towards the park, it looked like a very small area with vans parked close to each other, but this wasn‘t the case. We were allocated a lovely big grassy site with an especially large concrete pad, so we are very comfortable here for this sunny weekend. Our Victorian neighbour is here for six weeks to escape the Melbourne winter and we can see why he is comfortable here where it is obviously much warmer than in Victoria.
The caravan park is peaceful and quiet with every age group represented here. It is interesting being right on the waterfront with a lovely white sandy beach, next to a green park and with high-rise apartments behind us.
It seemed so different for us cooking our boerewors and having our dinner outside our caravan with this background, as if we were in a big city! Normally caravan parks are relegated way out in the outer suburbs and public transport is needed to get into the city but then, this is the Gold Coast, not a city! All we knew about the Gold Coast is that there are high-rise buildings, but washing up after dinner outside our caravan at dusk with lights coming on in the buildings on floors high above us seemed quite surreal. Constantly we heard the sounds of helicopters and planes flying overhead ferrying their clients reminding us that we are very close (in fact amid) a scenic, popular tourist area. The Gold Coast is a much loved holiday playground, enticing visitors with a balmy climate and glistening surf beaches. Along the coast are 40 patrolled beaches for year round swimming, wildlife parks, and thrill-a-minute theme parks.
Southport will be the last place we are staying in Queensland after a great 75 days in this huge, interesting, varied state and this is definitely different to any other place. We found the map intriguing and couldn’t work out whether the beach on the edge of the caravan park is ocean or river. The Lonely Planet explained it best ‘Sheltered from the ocean by a long sandbar (known as the Spit) and the Broadwater estuary, Southport is a relatively quiet residential enclave 4 kms north of Surfers Paradise…..Main Beach, just south of Southport, marks the gateway to the Spit and the high rise tourist developments.
The Spit runs 3km north, dividing the Broadwater from the South Pacific Ocean. The ocean side of the Spit is relatively untouched, backed by a long strip of natural bushland, and has excellent beaches and surf. At the southern end of the Spit is the Sea World theme park, while the upmarket shopping complex of Marina Mirage is near Mariner’s Cove and the marina, the departure point for cruises and other water-based activities.’
On Saturday, after doing our household chores of laundry etc., we drove to Surfer’s Paradise to see this place we had heard about so often. We were surprised, even though it was close to midday, to find a parking spot right on the Surfer’s Paradise beach front and across the road from some of the high-rise apartments. We were fascinated by the different styles of architecture of the tall buildings which were all designed and built so that most of the apartments enjoyed the fantastic ocean views on offer. There is an incredible amount of holiday accommodation and one wonders how much price competition there is amongst them.
The beaches were full of mainly young people sunbathing, some swimming between the flags and surfers riding their boards further up the beach where there were no swimmers. Unlike Port Douglas, there are no umbrellas or long white beach loungers for hire on this beautiful wide long white sandy beach.
From the beach we walked up towards the centre of the town and found ourselves in the mall crowded with so many people of every age and nationality, lots of shops and eateries - and what good smells! We decided to go upmarket today and sat at an al fresco Restaurant called Toscani’s and enjoyed a Barramundi lunch, and afterwards we couldn’t resist going round the corner to one of the 24 McDonalds in the area to buy a 50c soft serve ice-cream to eat as we took a leisurely walk along the beach. We were close to our car when we noticed something different hidden between the buildings and went to investigate.
It was ‘Adrenalin in the Park’ where people pay to be hoisted and thrown high into the sky! For $30 you can be strapped into a sling shot and sent flying at 160km/hr to an altitude of 80m at an acceleration that exceeds that of a fighter plane.
Then there is the ‘Flycoaster’ for $39 which swings you like a pendulum after you have been released from a hoist 34 metres up. Then if that is not enough and what first attracted us to the area, is the Vomatron, which whisks you around in a giant arc at about 120km/hr. For the littlies as young as three there are the Bungy Trampolines where they are secured in a harness attached to big rubber bands and can have fun bouncing higher and higher in perfect safety.
Parked outside on the road for the young and young at heart is the ‘Aquaduck’ which tours the beachfront, ducking between the High Rises before duck-diving into the water.
The whole Surfers Paradise scene couldn’t be described better ‘Sprouting out of the commercial heart of the God Coast is the signature high-rise settlement of Surfers Paradise. Here the pace is giddy and frenetic….but with so much bling and glitz in your face, be prepared to depart with your cash. About the only time you won’t is if one of the famous meter maids - pretty young things in gold bikinis - feeds your expired parking metre’. We were parked out of the parking metre zone but somehow one of the metre maids happened to be in front of the street scene Mike was trying to capture on camera!
From there we saw tucked away the smaller Clock Hotel and couple of other low attractive buildings. Eventually we returned to our car and by then the traffic was much heavier as we made our way back down the highway towards Southport stopping at the multi story shopping centre to restock our larder. Everything seems to be big on the Gold Coast, even in Southport, and we eventually found the floor with the supermarket and after a short search, the right floor where we had parked our car! We know for sure that Southport is a very different town to when our friend Gresham grew up here about seventy years ago.
On Sunday morning we set the GPS and headed through Labrador 14kms to Helensvale where the Northlink Presbyterian Church is located. We were a bit confused after driving in where we saw the sign and parked the car. The building looked like a small shed with a coffee urn and cups sitting on a table outside. We were warmly greeted at the door and after entering the sanctuary set up with about 100 comfortable chairs, the pastor came to speak to us. Suddenly we noticed the whole room was filled with people of all ages, and after a children’s story, a visiting speaker gave a clear message. After the service we were introduced to an ex-Zimbabwean who grew up on a farm near Karoi and a few South Africans. It was hard to know why people were wearing heavy coats and complaining how cold it was as they ‘never normally have such cold weather’! We didn’t find it at all cold and in fact our car was so hot when we went back to it that we needed to put the air con on full when we left!
We had decided, as it was in the same direction, to go to the Marina Quays Market Village on Hope Island which we saw advertised as ‘A boutique European-style village on the water with an eclectic mix of local produce, retail outlets, artisans and entertainers.’
There were so many cars in the car park but being such a big area, there didn’t seem to be many people. The most were around the farmyard of baby animals including kids, lambs, chicks, baby pigs and a Jack Russell pup all running around together with children who were delighted with the animals. We found a book shop selling books at $1 and $2 so restocked on reading material, wandered around the shops and food places for a while and then decided to go home for coffee and lunch. We drove down the coast through the upmarket double storey residential areas of Paradise Point, Hollywell, Runaway Bay, Biggera Waters, and then back again through Labrador where we recognized the skyscrapers behind our caravan park. We had just arrived back at the caravan when we received a call from Lesley having coffee at the church with Pierre who was celebrating his birthday. Lesley passed the phone to him for us to sing Happy Birthday and he told us he was going to Mandurah for the afternoon. When we walked the 30 metres to the BBQs, it reminded us so much of Mandurah as Mike barbecued our Peri-Peri chicken so close to the foreshore. We had our lunch relaxing in the warm sun and before we knew it, the afternoon was drawing to a close.
After dark on our last night in Queensland, we walked along the beach and into the nearby park to enjoy the views of the lights in the buildings surrounding us and the magic of the stars in the clear night sky.
Monday we will drive over the border into New South Wales and onto Coffs Harbour via Byron Bay, the most Easterly point on Mainland Australia.