Go­ing for gold

FOL­LOW THE READER

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Australia - JU­LIA STARR ELTHAM, VIC­TO­RIA

I HADto think care­fully be­fore re­ply­ing. I wished she hadn’t asked.

Oh, what the heck, I just blurted it out. ‘‘We are go­ing to Queens­land . . . to the Gold Coast.’’

It’s hard to de­scribe an ex­pres­sion that re­veals a mix­ture of re­vul­sion, dis­be­lief, con­de­scen­sion and a vague aware­ness that one is re­quired to say some­thing that does not re­veal one’s true re­ac­tion. ‘‘Oh, that’s nice,’’ she said, fi­nally, in a tone that left no doubt it was not nice at all.

But it was nice, you know, our hol­i­day on the Gold Coast. We had booked at the last minute and wanted warmth and waves at the right price.

Our apart­ment turned out to be on the 13th floor of an el­derly build­ing but it had an ocean view and the only sound we could hear was the crash of waves. I was on the beach at 5.20am ev­ery day and drink­ing tea on the bal­cony by 6.30am. Din­ner was at a dif­fer­ent surf club ev­ery night and the days were filled with beach out­ings, walks and day trips. It was the school hol­i­days, and there were crowds about, but not any that could com­pete with Mel­bourne on a week­day.

The weather was di­vine. Ev­ery­one we met was in a good mood. Peo­ple wore light­coloured cloth­ing and looked younger and hap­pier for it. Av­o­ca­dos were 9c each. The surf clubs were packed be­cause the meals were cheap and (sur­prise) ed­i­ble. Stress fell off us.

Did I tell my friend any of this? Did she even ask how it was? No, of course not. I am not one to mess with peo­ple’s pre­con­cep­tions, but I feel the need to rush to the de­fence of the Gold Coast. We all know it’s not Paris, Lon­don or New York. It’s not even Noosa. But it is what it is, and an open mind and sense of fun will al­low the good things in all places to be re­vealed. So, yeah, we went to the Gold Coast. And we may even go again. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to our Fol­low the Reader col­umn: travel@theaus­tralian. com.au. Pub­lished colum­nists will re­ceive a three-piece set for clothes, shoes and toi­letries by F1 Spacepak, a com­pres­sion pack­ing sys­tem that max­imises suit­case space. $98. More: flight001.com.au.

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