September 22, 2005 | Ronda Jambe

From the Gold to the Gulf – a Tale of Two Coasts (1)

From the Gulf to the Gold (1)
Surfers strikes me as a compilation of several cities. Hong Kong (for the high rises and heat), Las Vegas for the sheer flash (but minus the big show options) and Orlando (because it does have those attractions). But what makes it special is the endless beach, which none of those places have. Surfers Paradise is archetypically Australian, with a surfeit of riches, a starting point for endless equally perfect beaches that stretch north and south.
People look askance when I say I like going to the Gold Coast. But what’s not to like? Its colours and meter maids are a celebration of fun. Even the fast food shops have a cheerful decadence, yum yum.
ice cream.jpg
But just as nature abhors a vacuum, Australians find an empty beach lacking in economic fulfillment. So wherever people cluster on the coast buildings appear.
high rises.jpg
On the Gold Coast a fabulous natural setting has been combined with every indulgence of modern civilization to create a semi-tropical pleasure dome. No one in Surfers pauses to stutter over the absent apostrophe, ‘forget about it’ is easy. The photo below looks across to the back of Seaworld from the shadows of The Spit, where a major cruise boat development is planned for the northern end.
view from the spit.jpg
Nearby is the Versace palace, surely the zenith of 21st century rococco. But what would I know? I tiptoe in such places, knowing I’m unlikely to fork out for even a coffee without falling into apoplexy at the prices. I leave that for overseas visitors. But don’t I love to drool over the gorgeous decor….
Surfers Paradise embodies the Australian love of comfort, colour, clean food. It shines, all types seem to mix easily, it feels safe. It is able to embrace family holidays and subdued sleaze.
condom kingdom.jpg
We almost hired a scooter, the brochure tempting with the invitation ‘ok, ok, let’s toot and scoot!’ But my partner soberly advised against it on the grounds of a) exorbitant price and b) you have to use it on the real roads, which are perilous at best. We found other things to do. In Surfers, even the freaks are fun.
Another Australian feature: the culture is unashamedly popular. We sought out the Arts Centre, enjoyable enough. As in Las Vegas, there isn’t a lot of the hoity-toity amid the honky-tonky. And who cares? Let’s face it, David is gorgeous in any setting. Cheap shoe sales at his feet cannot degrade him.
And of course, as a major tourism destination and an icon of Australian life, the Gold Coast will always be there. It is unthinkable that any vagaries of politics or Gaia’s whims could change its essential features. The fun will continue!
Chugging along on an evening cruise at the Gold Coast a few weeks ago, sipping champagne and nibbling nicely defrosted spring rolls and cheese cubes (can you get any more Aussie than that?) we admired the flash homes along the inland water channel, and noted with awe that some had helipads. Many were dark, even after dusk. A friend there who manages home units said they are ‘lock ups’ that the owners only visit now and then.
This got me thinking about Jared Diamond’s wonderful book Collapse, that connects (in my non-linear mind) with the recent hurricane sisters and with Professor Ian Lowe’s presentation at the ANU last week. And with Part 2 of this blog, coming soon.

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 9:29 am | Comments Off on From the Gold to the Gulf – a Tale of Two Coasts (1) |

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