A quick flight North from Sydney to Coolangatta airport with Jetstar landed me in the beautiful beach destination: Gold Coast. Really easily and stress free I got a bus right outside the airport to the typical backpacker location of Gold Coast which is Surfer’s Paradise. (Don’t forget that there’s a time change between New South Wales and Queensland so make sure the booking times of your hostels/ transfers match.) The journey took maybe an hour or so, and if I remember correctly it cost about $20. There is a Go Card for transport which is the Goldcoast version of Sydney’s Opal card, however I hadn’t planned on being in Goldcoast for long so I didn’t purchase one.
The main mode of transport in Surfer’s Paradise is by tram, which runs to a point and then a bus service replaces it. Transport is a bit pricey in Australia so if you can walk the distance I’d definitely recommend it, however, with Australia being so large and places very dispersed there is a hefty distance than what someone from England would be used to. Even to travel 2 hours to see a friend for lunch in Australia isn’t seen as that long.
At first, my experience of Gold Coast was exactly what I had anticipated Australia to be like. It was much hotter than Sydney, the beach was only a short walk away, there were way less shops and restaurants close by (our local supermarket was a petrol station) and it just looked stereotypically Australian.
Surfer’s paradise beach itself was bare with the incredible skyscraper backdrop which reminded me of a Miami scene. Further south along the beach strip of Gold Coast, (towards Coolangatta) you have other beach spots like Mermaid Beach and Burleigh Heads. These are beautiful destinations for some great photos and relaxing beaches. Tumgun lookout, Tallebudgera Creek and Burleigh town were my absolute favourites. The typical healthy Australian way of life is what towns like Burleigh Heads embody. There’s so many independent cafes that have all sorts of healthy spins on coffees and cakes with lots of yoga classes on their beach front.
Tumgun lookout is without a doubt a must. You get there by walking through Burleigh heads national park towards the lookout point. (If you want to get on the rock for a good photo opportunity there’s actually a fence blocking the drop, but, if you walk back to the start of the fence you can squeeze through a gap to the right of it and simply walk down to the rock (for God’s sake don’t try to climb over the fence like I did) and you’ve got your picture.) From the lookout you have a view over Tallebudgera Creek which you can’t even believe is really in front of you and you can see dolphins and whales if you look closely.
Another unbelievable thing to do in Surfer’s Paradise is to buy a ticket to go up the Sky Point tower and see the view at golden hour. The ticket is about $23 but lasts a whole month so if you want to get a nice drink & enjoy the view again you can escape the hostel life and feel a bit more luxurious.
The hostel I stayed at in is called Surfer’s Paradise Backpackers Resort. This is when I realised I was definitely out of the city and in a smaller beach town, as the quality of accommodation from Sydney was much more basic. The hostel is simple and homely with female only, male only and mixed dorms made of bunk beds each with an ensuite bathroom. The kitchen and eating area was pretty basic and the communal area was completely outside, but what came in handy was the sheltered benches so that you can escape the blazing sun. Essentially,the further North you go along the East Coast the hotter it gets, so to have no air-con, de-humidifiers or inside areas other than your shared rooms to cool off it can get really, really hot. A good tip is to make sure that the blinds/curtains are shut in your room all day. A lot of people will want to open them, the windows and even the door thinking they are cooling the room down but really they’re letting in the sun and any unwanted bugs. Treat the room like a little cave and it should stay cooler with no sunlight.
In the hostel, daily volleyball competitions, quiz nights and hot dog nights were a great way to make friends. There were also planned nights out that you could join. You just had to pay for a wristband and you would have entry to all the bars they were going to. However, because I didn’t enjoy the thought of nights out while away it wasn’t for me. The hostel also has a small pool which was great to cool down in if it was too windy to relax and the beach and a couple hammocks.
I ended up meeting two amazing friends in this hostel and extended my stay by two weeks so that I could go with the girls to our next stop: Byron Bay.