The Gold Coast is the "skin" capital of Queensland, full of silicone and sun seekers. The coastline is studded with high rise apartments and million-dollar theme parks with roller-coaster rides and waterslides. There are also enormous shopping malls, strip clubs and loads of bars and clubs. Due to Helensvale being quite a bit inland from the coast and public transport being a bit crap, I didn't really get to sample the seedier side of the Gold Coast unfortunately. I did pay a visit to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary which was very enjoyable (the only birds I'd be seeing!), helped Matt and his partner Jos win the quiz at the local pub, enjoyed a steak meal with the winnings, and generally relaxed doing not very much.
In the middle of my stay, I paid a visit to the Sunshine Coast to visit another fellow traveller, Kaye, although it wasn't very sunny. This involved a long 3 hour train journey from Helensvale to Woombye and bus to Maroochydore. The Sunshine Coast is another beach lover's paradise, although not as trashy as the Gold Coast. We visited (the late) Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo, which I particularly wanted to do as they had a jumping crocodile show and it would be only remaining chance I got to see saltwater crocodiles after missing out on them in Kakadu NP in Darwin. The Zoo was a pricey ~A$50 (after my YHA discount), it was good but not worth $50.
On Sunday (13 Feb), I had a short flight from Coolangatta Airport to Sydney, where I'd be spending a couple of days before my visit to Oz came to an end!
I flew from Cairns to Brisbane on Saturday lunchtime. With a Category 5 cyclone and thunderstorms the rest of the time, I was glad to be leaving Cairns but disappointed that all my tours had to be cancelled. This just meant I'd have to come back at some point in the future when the weather was a bit better! I snapped a few bits of the Barrier Reef from the airplane window - this was all I'd be seeing for the time being. From Brisbane Airport, I caught the Airtrain to the Gold Coast and Helensvale Station (~A$25), from where I was picked up by my mate Matt (a fellow traveller from my Central America trip last year) in his passion wagon. I would be spending a relaxing week here (punctuated by a 3 day trip to the Sunshine Coast to see another fellow traveller, Kaye), which was just what was needed after a very hectic and tiring few weeks with barely a day free to relax.