Golden op­por­tu­ni­ties

Surfers Par­adise from a lofty new view­point

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

HOW high do ea­gles fly? The views from my 35th-floor perch are so lofty that surely they tran­scend a rap­tor’s eye level. Look­ing north along the Gold Coast’s fa­bled stretch of sand and surf, I fancy I can even see the spires of the Bris­bane sky­line.

The panorama of white­flecked waves and bur­nished shore­line seems to stretch all the way to in­fin­ity.

I am at Surfers Par­adise in an apart­ment at the freshly opened Sea Tem­ple within the Jupiter Group’s 77-storey Soul com­plex, which looms more than 240m, cast­ing not so much one of those fa­mous shad­ows on the sand as a loom­ing mass that, if flat­tened east­wards, you’d won­der whether it couldn’t stretch to New Zealand. Only its neigh­bour Q1, with a thrust­ing pin­na­cle top, is higher.

Even down at lobby level at Sea Tem­ple, things are soar­ing, at least in the kitchen. Steve Sz­abo, for­merly of the Gold Coast’s Palazzo Ver­sace, has joined this Mir­vac-man­aged prop­erty as ex­ec­u­tive chef in charge of the breezily named Sea­d­uc­tion, which looks set to be the most talked­about din­ing room in this beachy parish. In fact, ho­tels in this neck of Queens­land are awash with celebrity cre­den­tials — con­sider, for in­stance, neigh­bours Luke Man­gan of Salt at Hil­ton Surfers Par­adise and Meyjitte Boughenout of Abysnthe at Q1.

Sz­abo is call­ing his food ‘‘mea­sured ex­trav­a­gance’’ and the menu is lus­ciously bril­liant, each dish a mas­ter­piece of tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise and in­no­va­tion. It’s a bit He­ston Blu­men­thal, with­out the en­velop­ing plumes of dry ice and dis­til­la­tions of rein­deer breath and other such non­senses.

Pride of place in the stream­lined din­ing room, just be­side the open kitchen, is a sexy ma­chine — gleam­ing like a Fer­rari, a sort of al­tar to char­cu­terie — at which melt­ingly fine slices of acorn-fed pata ne­gra ham are cut for Sea­d­uc­tion’s sig­na­ture en­tree.

Also pre­pare for the likes of tortellini of goat’s cheese with baby beet­root gel, crushed wal­nuts, man­darin and burnt but­ter (the beet­root is as beet­rooty as it could be, the very essence of this pun­gent vegetable) and loin of Junee sum­mer lamb with sweet­breads, smoked egg­plant and pump­kin cream.

Mean­while, back up there in the clouds, with elas­ti­cated un­der­gar­ments loos­ened (some­how, my sis­ter Kate and I have also fit­ted in Sz­abo’s de­con­structed cheese­cake with toasted sesame tu­ile), we have eased into full princess mode.

We swish about the creamy­white three-be­d­room apart­ment ( the en­suite mas­ter or, as we pre­fer, mis­tress be­d­room is the size of a stu­dio apart­ment) and test out the gad­getry (the ice­maker is a favourite) and mar­vel at wind­bun­dled cu­mu­lus clouds float­ing like huge balls of cot­ton wool.

In Sea Tem­ple’s public ar­eas, there is swish­ing space aplenty, too, with can­tilevered stair­cases of the grand- ar­rival kind, glass balustrades, high-backed chairs that seem to have been lifted from Alice in Won­der­land, mul­ti­ple mir­rors ar­ranged in clever clus­ters and pot­ted plants that reach to­wards dou­ble-height ceil­ings.

When al­most-teenager Su­san hol­i­dayed with her par­ents on the Gold Coast, the fam­ily al­ways stayed in the same board­ing house, a Queens­lan­der on stilts (out of the road of the snakes, Dad would say with a wink) with linoleum floors and bunk beds, but it felt like heaven. Mother would for­get all about her usual regime of strict den­tal hy­giene and 100 strokes of hair be­fore bed­time with a Ma­son Pear­son boar­bris­tle brush.

It would be Pad­dle Pops at all hours and salty curls stuck at shock­ing an­gles, and my mop would be­come fes­tooned with rain­bow lori­keets, be­cause ev­ery year we went to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary (or the less am­bi­tious bird sanc­tu­ary, as it was then) even though I com­plained long and loud that I would rather be at the beach and would my par­ents please re­mem­ber to call me Gid­get, which was a surf­ing name, in­stead of Su­san, which was not.

Fa­ther would wear bathers that smelt of moth­balls and for­get his usual aver­sion to rub­ber thongs and tow­elling hats. It seemed a kind of Shangri-la — or an Amalfi, a San­torini or a Key Largo, de­pend­ing on which block of flats I was pass­ing at the time.

I used to won­der if ever I got to Italy or Greece or Florida, would the hol­i­day flats there be called Coolan­gatta or Currumbin or Burleigh Heads? These days the pre­vail­ing ar­chi­tec­ture on the newly fash­ion­able GC is all about acres of glass and mir­rored sur­faces, and it ap­pears to me to have con­fi­dence and orig­i­nal­ity; there seems less need for Tus­can re­vivals and faux-moroc­can domes and all that cring­ing sense of else­where. It is much more a mat­ter of sun­light and space, of in­door-out­door liv­ing.

Sea Tem­ple, which oc­cu­pies lev­els four to 39 of stage one of Soul (the res­i­den­tial stage two is still topped with cranes), does feel re­sound­ingly on, and of, the GC, with a wor­ship­ful re­gard for water views. The level three swim­ming deck has ter­raced out­door pools, in­clud­ing a top level with spa jets, and there’s an in­door heated lap pool with in­fin­ity edge, gym and steam room, plus a guest bar­be­cue area and plenty of cush­ioned loungers across var­i­ous tiers, most with sea views be­yond the on­go­ing Surfers Par­adise fore­shore re­de­vel­op­ment of con­courses, greenery and prom­e­nades.

Dur­ing my visit, those salty vis­tas in­clude dis­plays in the 2012 Sand Sculpt­ing Cham­pi­onships, which seems to have a pi­rate theme. I could swear that’s a gritty- look­ing Cap­tain Jack Spar­row wink­ing at me, his coiled curls sorely in need of a boar-bris­tle brush. Su­san Kuro­sawa was a guest of Sea Tem­ple. Skypoint Climb: At 270m above sea level, atop the Q1 res­i­den­tial and re­sort tower, is an at­trac­tion with the thrilling name of Skypoint Climb. This is Australia’s ‘‘high­est ex­ter­nal build­ing walk’’, which takes about 90 min­utes to com­plete. Be pre­pared to climb about 300 stairs and sev­eral steplad­ders in a pro­vided suit and body har­ness, with handrails at the ready. Par­tic­i­pants must be 12 years and over. More: sky­point­climb.com.au. Eforea Spa: Head to the coolly lux­u­ri­ous Eforea Spa on level two of the new Hil­ton Surfers Par­adise, di­ag­o­nally be­hind Soul. If you overdo the Gold Coast so­lar wor­ship­ping, there’s a 60-minute Af­ter-sun Res­cue hy­drat­ing treat­ment that in­cludes an al­gae gel masque and Chi­nese acu­pres­sure head, face and foot mas­sage. More: hilton­surferspar­adise.com.au. Jan Power’s Farm­ers Mar­kets: Show­cas­ing south­east Queens­land’s finest farm, or­ganic and gourmet pro­duc­ers, Jan Power’s Farm­ers Mar­kets are held at Or­a­cle Boule­vard, Broad­beach, on the sec­ond Sun­day of the month from 7am to 1pm. The mar­kets of­fer the same qual­ity of pro­duce as Jan Power’s pop­u­lar Pow­er­house and Queen Street farm­ers mar­kets in Bris­bane. More: jan­pow­ers­farm­ers­mar­kets. com.au; seena­tor­a­cle.com.au. En­rich Re­treat & Spa: The new En­rich Re­treat & Spa is set amid 1.2ha of sub­trop­i­cal rain­for­est be­side Lake Ter­ra­nora. In-house pro­grams in­clude ‘‘holis­tic per­sonal de­vel­op­ment tech­niques that cater for in­di­vid­u­als seek­ing to grow and learn in all ar­eas of life’’. Pack­ages cover ther­a­pies such as feet and hand rit­u­als, full-body mas­sages and deluxe spa fa­cials plus healthy re­fresh­ments. More: en­richre­treat.com.au. Currumbin Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary: This lead­ing fam­ily at­trac­tion has an­nounced the open­ing of Yan­guwah, billed as the Gold Coast’s first and most au­then­tic indige­nous din­ner ex­pe­ri­ence. Yan­guwah, the indige­nous word for wel­come, cel­e­brates Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lander cul­tures through ‘‘an en­er­getic and in­no­va­tive per­for­mance’’. Au­di­ence mem­bers are also of­fered an is­lander feast pre­pared in the tra­di­tional Kup Murri style, and the op­por­tu­nity to get up-close and per­sonal with some of our fa­mous fauna and birdlife, in­clud­ing koalas, kan­ga­roos, baby croc­o­diles and clouds of colour­ful rain­bow lori­keets. More: cws.org.au. Na­tional Surf­ing Re­serve: A 14km stretch of coast­line, in­cor­po­rat­ing point breaks at Burleigh Heads, Currumbin Al­ley and Kirra to Snap­per are the first Queens­land beaches to be de­clared a Na­tional Surf­ing Re­serve. Gold Coast City Coun­cil, in part­ner­ship with the Na­tional Surf­ing Re­serve, the group re­spon­si­ble for al­lo­cat­ing re­serve sta­tus, says the move ‘‘will en­sure the long-term pro­tec­tion and preser­va­tion of these ar­eas’’. Airtrain’s easy ac­cess: Airtrain has im­proved its Air­trainCon­nect ser­vice so pas­sen­gers can travel more or less door-todoor from the Gold Coast to Bris­bane air­port or vice versa. Be col­lected at your ho­tel or front door by an Airtrain chauf­feur who’ll drive you to catch the most con­ve­nient rail ser­vice. From Bris­bane air­port, be di­rected to the ap­pro­pri­ate train and then be col­lected on the Gold Coast for a trans­fer to your ho­tel or se­lected sub­urbs. More: airtrain.com.au.

vis­it­gold­coast.com

The swim­ming deck at the Sea Tem­ple has ter­raced out­door pools, an in­door heated lap pool, gym and steam room

With apart­ments up to the 39th floor, there’s the feel­ing of be­ing up in the clouds

The ju­nior Su­san Kuro­sawa and friends at Currumbin

Ex­ec­u­tive chef Steve Sz­abo

Skypoint Climb

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