GATHER ’ROUND

THERE’S A FUN NEW WAY TO CRUISE THE GOLD COAST WATER­WAYS AND IT COMES IN THE MOST UNIQUE FORM.

Scout Magazine - - Adventure... - WWW.COASTINGAROUND.COM.AU

Most wa­ter­craft are stream­lined and built for aero­dy­nam­ics. But there’s a fleet of fun new cir­cu­lar (yes: CIR­CU­LAR!) boats do­ing the lit­eral rounds of the Gold Coast – and guests are hav­ing a whale of a time in them! Coast­ing Around hire boats are af­fec­tion­ately known as “coast­ers”. Th­ese cir­cu­lar fi­bre­glass boats feature a large cen­tral table with in­ter­change­able ice tray or bar­be­cue sta­tion, sur­rounded by lux­ury seat­ing for up to 10 peo­ple. They are mak­ing waves for pro­vid­ing a unique float­ing group ex­pe­ri­ence, per­fect for birthdays, cor­po­rate team build­ing ac­tiv­i­ties or groups of mates just look­ing for some float­ing fun.

Throw in the an­chor, crack a 'cold one' and listen to your favourite tunes. Self-drive round boats are cus­tomised to meet your needs. Coast­ing Around of­fers guests the op­tion of BYO food, drinks and ice. There are three coast­ers in the fleet, able to en­ter­tain groups of up to 30 pas­sen­gers at one time – book one or the whole fleet (fleet dis­counts ap­ply). No boat li­cence is re­quired.

Coast­ing Around boat hire op­er­ates through­out the beau­ti­ful Gold Coast water­ways. Open seven days a week from sun­rise to sun­set. Lo­cated at Mariners Cove, Sea­world Drive, Gold Coast.

As a spe­cial for scout mag­a­zine read­ers, re­ceive $20 off any Coast­ing Around cruise with the promo code "scout".

IF THERE’S ONE WINTRY DES­TI­NA­TION AUS­TRALIANS HAVE BEEN FREQUENTING FOR YEARS, IT’S JA­PAN. WITH IN­CRED­I­BLE CUL­TURE, PRIS­TINE SLOPES AND DE­LI­CIOUS (IF AD­VEN­TUR­OUS) FOOD, IT’S THE PER­FECT ES­CAPE FROM OUR SUM­MER HEAT. It may be just an eight-hour flight away, but Ja­pan truly is a dif­fer­ent world. Ever dreamed of pat­ting a snake while en­joy­ing the big­gest, creami­est hot cho­co­late you’ve ever laid your eyes on? Or felt the urge to el­bow your way down a busy street full of sparkly pink biker jack­ets and bou­tiques with names like ‘Cute Cube’? Have you ever wanted to stand on top of a snowy moun­tain, si­mul­ta­ne­ously awestruck and ter­ri­fied of the view be­low?

I can’t say that any of th­ese things were on my to-do list be­fore I vis­ited Ja­pan – it was a place that I’d heard so much about, but prob­a­bly wouldn’t have vis­ited on my own whim. But af­ter spend­ing five nights in bustling Tokyo and seven in Niseko – a ski­ing town near Sap­poro on the north­ern Hokkaido Is­land – I ab­so­lutely un­der­stand the hype.

Tokyo is a whirl­wind of bright lights, an­i­mal cafes and tem­pura. Whether you’re singing (scream­ing) karaoke in Shin­juku, buy­ing fuzzy track­suits and hi­lar­i­ous sun­glasses in Hara­juku, or cud­dling snakes and bunnies – sep­a­rately, luck­ily for the bunnies – you’ll be to­tally en­gulfed by the ‘vibe’ of Tokyo’s dis­tinct ar­eas.

I stayed in an Airbnb in Shin­juku, nes­tled amongst big de­part­ment stores and tiny bars. I got lost in the ex­cite­ment of the city, both metaphor­i­cally and lit­er­ally – on a night out with friends, we ac­ci­dently found our­selves miles from home in the mid­dle of the fa­mous Shibuya cross­ing, and on an­other night we walked for two-and-ahalf hours in search of the per­fect chicken katsu (which was around the cor­ner from our apart­ment the whole time).

The Ja­panese are known for their hos­pi­tal­ity and, though many speak some English, it’s best to learn a few phrases – like “What sort of meat is this?” and “Ex­cuse me, where is the near­est ro­bot res­tau­rant?” (which, yes, is to­tally a thing). Where taxi drivers can be tough to con­verse with, the train sys­tem is simple – it pays to do your re­search, but also roll with the punches. Be or­gan­ised, open-minded and a lit­tle bit brave, and you’ll have the time of your life.

Then, just as you’ve ad­justed to the hus­tle and bus­tle, swap your coats for ski jack­ets and head to the slopes. A two-hour flight from Tokyo, then a three-hour bus ride away, Niseko felt more fa­mil­iar to us Aussies (apart from the -7°C tem­per­a­ture). It’s over­whelm­ingly pop­u­lated by Aus­tralians, from tourists to store at­ten­dants,

drivers and tour guides – there are even flat whites (Aus­tralia’s favourite cof­fee) avail­able the res­tau­rant half­way up the moun­tain.

Why go to Ja­pan if you’re go­ing to be sur­rounded by Aus­tralians, you ask? Niseko still boasts au­then­tic Ja­panese food, ac­com­mo­da­tion and on­sens, not to men­tion the great pow­der on the slopes – it’s not called ‘Japow’ for noth­ing.

The Hi­rafu area where I stayed is the big­gest of four ski re­sorts dot­ted around the base of the moun­tain. The oth­ers (An­nupuri, Niseko vil­lage and Hana­zono) are all ac­ces­si­ble by bus or, if you’re brave, via the ski runs carved into the moun­tain. On our last day we made the trek up to the peak of the moun­tain, ig­nor­ing the ‘ex­pert only’ signs along the way, with the in­ten­tion of ski­ing down the other side to eat lunch at An­nupuri. Even with my min­i­mal ski­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and paralysing fear of heights, the view from the top was well worth the em­bar­rass­ment of the walk/bum-slide back down the moun­tain and long bus ride around – not over – the moun­tain to meet my friends at An­na­puri. With that be­ing said, I cer­tainly wouldn’t rec­om­mend fol­low­ing my lead – it turns out those signs were there for a rea­son.

When it comes to food, Niseko has as much to of­fer as Ja­pan’s big­ger cities. Make okonomiyaki at a tep­pa­nyaki res­tau­rant or en­joy Kaza­hana’s spicy potato ra­men, known to be the best in the area. But I found that the tasti­est food was served on the street – the ‘Taj Rolls’ from a street kiosk (kind of like but­ter chicken in a soft taco) were phe­nom­e­nal, as were the Nutella crepes. When we felt like eat­ing in, the local ‘Se­ico­mart’ con­ve­nience store of­fered chicken and rice dishes, salty potato wedges, and noo­dles… stuffed in a hot dog bun (a del­i­cacy which, even af­ter many dares, wasn’t con­sumed by any of us).

All in all, it turns out there’s a rea­son us Aussies (and the rest of the world) are in­fat­u­ated with the Ja­pan – I’m for­ever dream­ing of my next trip. And with ski sea­son fast ap­proach­ing, an end-of-year adventure could def­i­nitely be on the cards.

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