Surfers Paradise from a lofty new viewpoint
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.
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