Byron Bay was our last stop in New South Wales and as we crossed the border into Queensland I was excited. Warmer weather, tropical climate and some of the most popular sights in Australia – who wouldn’t be excited about that?! Our first stop was the towering skyline of the Gold Coast, where we ended up staying in a few different locations.
We had both read and heard that Surfer’s Paradise was very loud and tacky, being where most backpackers head when visiting this area of coastline in Aus. We therefore decided to first stay a little further south to begin with, in a little town called Burleigh Heads.
Burleigh Heads is a chilled out low-key coastal town in the South of the Gold Coast strip. We spent a full day here and unfortunately had the worst weather we have had since being in Australia; gale force winds and hammering rain to match. On the afternoon that we arrived while the weather was still good, we did get to wander down the coastal path to take a look at the pristine sandy beach and also managed to walk into the town. This place has some great little shops and restaurants including a Thai place which smelled heavenly (unfortunately our budget does not allow us the privilege of eating out though!).
We ended up making the most of our rainy day in Burleigh Heads by driving the 20 minutes over to Surfer’s Paradise for a surf lesson. Why have a surf lesson in the pouring rain? We had already booked the bloody thing and therefore didn’t have much of choice!
Due to the appalling weather, the sea was empty and we were the only ones having a lesson. Both of these situations ended up being very beneficial to me especially, seeing as I couldn’t even stay on the board when I was on my stomach, let alone when standing up. An hour of bumps, bruises and a couple of near death experiences later I came to the conclusion that surfing just wasn’t for me, however it was a great experience and one that I think has to be done in the surfing country of the world. One thing I am sure of though is that I will not be picking up a surf board again for a while!
We didn’t actually stay in Surfer’s Paradise as we couldn’t find a campsite near enough, but we did drive in on a Saturday night to get a Dominos ($5 pizzas, why wouldn’t you?!) and therefore got to see how rowdy this place gets at night. All I will say is that if you like to party, this is the place to do it. Among the fluorescent lights, thumping music, half naked bodies and drunken revellers already admitting defeat in the kebab shop at 8.30pm, it felt like I was right back in Kavos at the age of 19. Safe to say that Surfer’s is not quite my kind of place.
We only spent one full day here, partly because I needed to find somewhere to complete and process my proxy vote (dedication to the political cause right there) but it turned out to be a surprisingly big place. We actually stayed on Main Beach, which is a ten minute tram ride from the centre of Southport but as the weather still wasn’t great we never managed to see the beach.
Southport itself has a great shopping centre and food court and while it is mostly a residential and business district, it’s the perfect place to get stuff done if you have any trip organising to do. The library there is huge (yes I’m telling you about how cool a library is) and has loads of free computers you can use if you sign up to a visitors pass. We concentrated on finding a cheesecake store for dessert that night so probably didn’t quite make the most out of this place, but if you have the money it is also a stone’s throw away from Queensland’s major theme parks which are meant to be a good laugh; the rollercoasters looked positively terrifying from the road!
We were absolutely gutted that the weather didn’t favour us for the Gold Coast and due to time constraints, we couldn’t really hang around much longer than we did. What the Gold Coast did do however was increase my excitement for the rest of our journey north for there was sure to be more gorgeous beaches to come!