June 22, 2008

Deja Vu on the Gold Coast

So much of Australia reminds me of home. It's hard to get homesick in a country with iced coffee, salt and vinegar chips, and movies that don't need subtitles. But in Australia's Gold Coast, the similarities were almost eerie. As we drove along the Gold Coast highway, I saw signs for Palm Beach, Miami Beach, Miami Keys and even Florida Gardens. It was as if this part of Australia confused itself for my hometown on the Atlantic.

Before we could hit the Gold Coast, we took a detour to Nimbin, the Woodstock of Australia. Nimbin is a tiny town known for still living the hippie lifestyle of the 1960s. If you ask a few of the residents, they might still think it's 1968. Set in among hills that are steeped in Aboriginal lore, Nimbin is a tiny little farming town. We stocked up on inexpensive, organic dried fruits and fresh beef. Just outside of town, we stopped at Protester Falls, in the middle of a tropical rainforest.

After a freezing night in Nimbin, it was time to head back to the beach. Surfers Paradise is the center of the Gold Coast, and from the name it sounds like a sleepy little town with a lot of dudes who say 'gnarly' all the time. Perhaps that was the case in the 1960s, before Surfers became a mecca for Japanese tourists. Now it is Australia's version of Cancun crossed with Las Vegas. Surfers has so many high rise buildings that we could see it from miles away.

From everything we'd read and heard, Jared and I were sure we wouldn't like Surfers Paradise. Then again, we were sure we'd love Byron Bay, and just the opposite happened. We had low expectations for Surfers Paradise, so it was easy to be pleasantly surprised. We knew it would be covered in high rises, flashing lights, and drunk 19-year-old backpackers. (Actually we joined the party for a night out, and had a blast.) But with an outlet mall and three Starbucks, we weren't complaining. In a country where cities are few and very far between, we loved being in a beach town that had all the benefits of a city.

Surfers Paradise is a bit of a misnomer, because the best waves are actually in the surrounding towns. Jared surfed the breaks in Coolangatta, and Burleigh Heads. In Currimbin, he accidentally rode into the middle of the Queensland state longboarding competition.

Taking a break from sleeping in the car, Jared and I checked into Backpackers in Paradise hostel. It was a great hostel, complete with a pool and mini-cinema. We even joined the Backpackers Big Night Out and hit 3 clubs on Saturday night.

From Surfers Paradise it was time to go to an actual big city, Brisbane. The capital of Queensland, Brisbane is Australia's third largest city. A river runs through the center of town, almost making you forget that the city is inland. While Brisbane seems to be a very nice place to live, we quickly realized there was little we wanted to see. We did get to see our good friend Julia again, and her friends Lucy and Sam were nice enough to take us in for the night. Thanks, mates!

We are in the posh beach community of Noosa now, trying to get caught up on our posts. You'll hear more from us soon, but until then, check out our photos from the Gold Coast.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I'm not the only who had deju vu. I felt like I was in florida the whole time, and hence why I was not a fan of the goldie!