Posted by Anura Samara, 14 February 2016
A few days on the Gold Coast reminds me how it’s just a tourist hotspot. But at least you can swim in the sea every day.
Juliane had some meetings on the Gold Coast, so I thought I would tag along and take the time to explore. It’s been many years since I was last here – I think it was when we first took the kids on a resort-style holiday – but to be honest not much has changed. It’s still flashy venues, tall buildings, long beaches and packed with tourists – both local and international.
One thing that has changed is the light rail. At least it’s now easier to explore the entire Gold Coast strip.
As always, the first thing to do was to aim for the highest point. Luckily, Skypoint was just around the corner from our hotel so I could book the first climb of the day.
When I arrived, it was raining – not a good start when I was hoping for great views of the entire coast. As always with these things, there was the mandatory suiting up, induction and safety briefing. As expected, this included being locked into your harness with cable ties.
The first thing to do is ride to the top of the building buy lift. Once there, we individually hook up to a continuous rail and then head outside. The first part is a near-vertical climb up a ladder but after that it’s more like walking up a staircase. Given the weather, it’s surprisingly calm for the first part of the climb. Unlike Auckland’s Skytower, climbing up Skypoint has none of that sense of being directly over the city. It’s because the staircase we climb on is set well back from the edge with our harness only allowing us to lean our head out. There’s a platform closer to the top where with some contortion you can lean even further out but it’s till not the same as the experience of literally hanging over the edge.
At the top is a bigger platform where there’s the opportunity to admire the view in all directions and pose for photos. The weather was incredibly – initially we could see the mountains to the south but a wall of rain approached from the direction. Amazingly, it split when it reached us and seemed to flow either side of the building. So, I didn’t get the wonderful views of blue skies and sandy beaches but the sense of being outdoors in an impending storm is pretty impressive.
And then it was time to head down again on the other, northern side.
I also booked a ride with Jetboat Extreme.
As a singleton, I was allowed to sit up front with the driver which was a bonus. The first part of the ride – which is the same coming back in – is anything but extreme. Due to speed restrictions in the inner part of the Nerang River the first 30 minutes is a leisurely cruise past the expensive houses on the waterfront and the marinas filled with large pleasure boats.
It’s only when the boat reaches the wider parts of the river that the driver can let go and put the boat through its paces. As usual, it’s less about flat-out speed than tight twists and curves with solid thumps as we cross back across our wake. It’s these hard thumps that I’ve figured out I don’t really like – the poor tailbone takes a real hammering and I started to anticipate them to better cushion the blows. Getting damp was all part of the experience.
And then it’s over, and time to head back to the jetty. Again, at slow leisurely speed.
Apart from those two experiences, the rest of my time was just spent wandering around the beach and the streets directly behind.
It really is a tourist town – everyone is spruiking the ‘must-do’ tourist activity with tours, events, promotions, quirky activities being promoted from every direction. There are lots of choices for eating out ranging from simple cafes to restaurants to the venues which get louder as the light fades into night.
All of this – the noise, the crowds, the lack of anything that really interested me – started to lose their appeal for me. The best bit? Getting up in the morning and heading for a swim in the sea. There really is nothing to beat it, and the water is so warm up here that you can just walk straight in.