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We’re sitting on the deck at Escape, a
lesbian bar so popular that even on a
Thursday we had to line up. I’m used
to being paid to go to fabulous places, where
everybody bends over backwards to make sure I have
a good time and write n ice things about them, but
this trip has b een special.
Many Australians, particularly those on the East
Coast, have been here at least once. If they didn’t
come as a child for the obligatory family holiday,
crammed into the backseat with their siblings and
deliriously excited about all the rides at the theme
parks, they must have come for schoolies, when
the whole region is overrun once a year by newly-
released high school students in an org y of drunken
misbehaviour and regrettable, often public, sex.
None of that sounds particularly appealing to a
gay & lesbian audience, so I was keen to see what
else the region has to offer. The answer, it turns out,
is more than you could possibly ask .
The flight from Sydney is a short one and, due
to the vagaries of daylight savings time, my plane
touched down five minutes before it took off.
As we drove to lunch at a surf club so close to the
beach there were small sand dunes in the car park,
he laid down the law. “The rules here are simple:
relax. That’s it”. It was a very easy rule to follow,
especially sitting on the outside deck eating oysters
and battered fish as the waves lapped soothingly
beneath our feet. With the iconic Elephant Rock on
our right, the skyscrapers of Surfers Paradise on our
left and the ocean’s blue depths stretching away over
the horizon, we had no trouble relaxing at all.
Next on the agenda was Currumbin Wildlife
Sanctuar y, which is part-zoo and part-animal
hospital, whose patients included a snake that
swallowed a golf ball and a black swan that was hit
by a jet-ski. The Americans with us loved every part
of it, especially being able to walk right up to the
kangaroos and emus, which ate from our hands. As
a country gal who’s hit more native animals in my car
than these people have ever seen, I tried to maintain
an air of bored amusement, but it was difficult.
A highlight at Currumbin were the Aboriginal
dancers, three young men who were naked but
for loin clothes and daubed in yellow paint.
Accompanied only by the earthy, ancient drone of
the didgeridoo and the rhythmic tapping of sticks,
their bare feet kicked up clouds of dust as they paced
out steps that have been performed for thousands of
years. It’s enough to send a shiver up your spine.
Another morning we took to the ocean for a surf
lesson . Surfing had always seemed like something
that was well beyond my limited coordination and
athletic ability, but the instructor, Brad, made it
look incredibly easy as he sliced through the waves.
Tucking my giant board under one arm I charged
into the surprisingly warm water, only to have my
earlier suspicions confirmed as I swallowed several
litres of the stuff.
The most exhilarating part of the week was
zipping across the harbour in a jetboat. We bounced
along the water like a skimmed rock, at tremendous
speed, so close to submerged trees it felt like we
could reach out and touch their foliage. I didn’t
try that, of course – I was too busy gripping the
safety rail in front of us, so tight I thought I might
actually leave finger marks in the steel. Here are my
two tips for those with an adventurous streak who
want to take part: try to sit in the middle where
you don’t get quite as soaked when the driver pulls
tight pirouettes that send water cascading over the
boat, and try to keep your mouth closed to avoid
swallowing too much brine.
Throughout the week we stayed at a number of
ver y nice hotels, but Palazzo Versace was special.
Stylish doesn’t come close to describing it; the place
is opulent almost to the point of decadence. The
driveway is among the largest mosaics in the world,
the rooms overlook a pool big enough to have its
own private beach area and the spa bath in my room
could comfortably fit two people – or several more
if you’re having a real party. Ever ywhere you look are
stylish Versace products, making it feel like you’re
in one of the great European fashion capitals. Even
the plates at breakfast are genuine Versace, worth
hundreds of dollars each, which made me feel sorr y
for the waiters who have to carefully carr y them.
The beaches and coastline aren’t all that are on
offer in this region, there’s also a lot of natural beauty
to be found in the hinterland, which David calls “the
green behind the gold”. One of our day trips was a
drive up to Tambourine Mountain, leaving the ocean
behind in favour of winding roads bordered close
on both sides by dense trees. There we came to the
remains of an ancient rainforest, one of the oldest in
Australia, with an elevated walkway that allowed us
to stroll along at canopy level. It’s not for those who
are scared of heights, as the walkway swayed more
than a little and you could look between your feet
to the forest floor 50 metres below, but ever ybody
else loved it. Large tropical butterflies fluttered by,
almost within arms reach, as we were serenaded
by birds singing against the counter rhythm of the
tumbling creek below. Among the 130 rare and
endangered species in the rainforest is the birdwing
butterfly, which was recently facing extinction but
has since made a strong comeback with the help of
conser vationists. The Gold Coast in general claims
to be Australia’s most biodiverse region, with more
than 3,000 plant and animal species.
Back in town, we headed for one of the
Gold Coast’s must-see destinations : Skypoint
Obser vation Deck. It perches above Q1, an
impressive, monolithic building that is higher than
the Eiffel Tower and the Chrysler Building and
was the tallest residential structure in the world
(overtaken by one in the United Arab Emirates
only weeks after I was there). The elevator shot up
through 77 floors in seconds, so high and fast my
ears popped, with a monitor on the ceiling showing
our rapid progress through the building.
The rules here are
Forget your troubles and relax in style with
this wonderful trip for two to the Gold Coast.
For your chance to win tell us why you
deserve the ultimate Gold Coast Escape.
Winner will receive
• 2 return flights from your nearest capital
city to the Gold Coast
• 3 nights luxury accommodation at the
Holiday Inn Surfers Paradise
• Full buffet breakfast each day
• 2 adult entry to Dreamworld and White
• 2 adult entry to Skypoint Observation
• Return airport and theme park transfers
Prize valued at $1,720.00.
Entries close September 3.
For more info visit lotl.com
Win a trip for 2
to the Gold Coast
We stayed at:
Kirra Surf Apartments
Sofitel Gold Coast
Watermark Hotel Gold Coast
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