I have for you all today a perhaps not-so-shocking revelation. Surfer’s Paradise on the Gold Coast, one of those little havens we all dream about on miserably grey days in our home cities, is unashamedly unglamorous.
We tout this spot in Australia as THE place to visit for all – particularly young – foreign tourists, but if this represents the best of Australia, I’m moving to Antarctica.
Perhaps I am biased, having transported myself from the wholesome tranquillity and simplicity of little Rock Valley, where the noise of the whip birds whistling to each other reigned supreme, into this concrete jungle, all highways and byways and condominiums.
Here, the dominant sound is the overuse of exhaust pipes. I wonder how this came to be, when the region’s best attraction is its glorious beaches, wide clean expanses of yellow sand and tumultuous ocean supplying – as the destination’s name suggests – the kind of waves surfers lust after.
This is a place of pleasure; of indulgence, frivolity and promiscuity. The epicentre of the fun comprises themeparks and shopping centres. If there is a culture beyond surfing and shopping, I’ve yet to discover it.
Tattoos and plastic boobs compete for attention. Old women bask in the sun until they resemble leather purses.
On my walk back to the hostel, I passed an empty bottle of passion pop abandoned in the sand. Further along, at 2.47 in the afternoon, two school-aged girls were sitting on the side of the road. Empty cans of Woodstock lay beside them, and when I got within earshot, I heard one girl proudly boast to her friend: “When I get drunk, nothing goes wrong bro.”
On the back of the toilet door in the girl’s bathroom at my hostel, a faded advertisement lectures me on the repercussions of unprotected sex. Beside the mirrors are the proliferate posters warning hostellers that alcohol is prohibited in the dorm rooms, encouraging us instead to descend to the bar below for our daily sustenance.
One of my roomies has already informed me that “the guys here are a bit weird. Don’t expect intellectual conversation … Of course, there are exceptions. Only I haven’t met any yet”. She’s been here two weeks. I’m not keeping my hopes high.
Have I put you off Surfer’s Paradise (I hope not – it’s an interesting experience)? If so, maybe you’ll be more enticed to enjoy some of my other, more serene Aussie backpacking adventures:
- Enjoy the quieter, more laid-back pace of life in Byron Bay
- Is the Great Barrier Reef really worth it? Read up on my experience.
- Experience the peace and serenity of Fraser Island
- Learn about the bohemian fun of market-town Kuranda – and the dangers of voluntary solo travel.
- Or delve right into a bit of Aussie outback adventure in the Northern Territory