Discovering a slice of paradise in Australia’s Gold Coast.
making memories in Australia.
A 12-DAY CHUNK OF MY VACATION IN AUSTRALIA DURING WINTER
this year was spent in the Gold Coast. After the hectic itinerary I laid out with my brother in frosty New South Wales, I expected to do the opposite on the sunny coast—a chill, no-agenda staycation at my aunt’s lovely new home. I once visited the city back in 2001, but my time was mostly spent in their popular theme parks like Movie World and Dreamworld.
As soon as I arrived, I was reacquainted with the infectious warmth of its inhabitants through the casual greetings and cheery smiles they would offer to anyone who looked their way. No doubt this positivity was a product of living near the water, being surrounded by gorgeous natural wonders, and having the perfect climate all year round.
I got a glimpse of paradise when I took a trip to a quaint third wave coffee shop called Koko Coffee Roasters and traversed by foot to nearby Mermaid Beach. I loved how the sun was strong but not overbearing, and how the wide golden strip could easily inspire people to go outdoors and get active: jump into the water, play games by the shore, and bike on the paved paths. As I sank my feet into the damp, powder-soft sand and the freezing 20-degree water, I was officially enthralled.
A few days later, a true-blue Gold Coaster and I met up for coffee at a nearby café. Over a decaf latte and an iced mocha, the usual questions were answered: “What brings you here?” “What do you do for a living?” “What’s your family like?” As the minutes trickled into an hour, I half expected us to go our separate ways. Instead,
he offered to take me to Surfers Paradise—a must-see for anyone visiting the coast (his words, not mine). As we leisurely strolled along Cavill Avenue, he gave insights on the places he frequented as a carefree partygoing teen and isolated surf spots he would regularly visit to clear his mind. With his lazy Aussie accent, he boasted that the Gold Coast was one of the best places in the world with its nearby beaches and rainforest hinterland. I didn’t need much convincing.
Two days later, we rode his trusty, worn-out Ford and made our way down south to Byron Bay—about an hour’s drive from the city. The sun shone as we cruised along the highway, getting to know each other as classic ’80s tunes by Simple Minds and The Police blasted through the car speakers. The beachside town was equally mesmerizing. Though the establishments were packed with vacationers (we were unfortunate to visit during a school holiday), the place still exuded a relaxed, unhurried vibe thanks to its low-lying buildings and artsy street murals. We snacked on sushi rolls and drank fruit smoothies by the sea while seagulls squawked for leftovers. There was really nothing else to do but stare at the sparkling expanse that lay before us, listen to the sound
of the hypnotic, rhythmic crashing of the waves, and feel the cold breeze caressing our faces.
On our drive back home, we made random stops at less populated but equally stunning beaches. One spot— Hastings Point—was even closed off for a movie filming (which I later on discovered was for DC’S Aquaman!). As the golden ball languidly set on the horizon, we gazed out to see strong giant waves pounding relentlessly over rocky formations, migrating whales expelling water out of their blowholes from a distance, surfers trying to ride as many waves as they could before the light completely disappeared, and a playful dolphin jumping across the water to bid us farewell as we went our separate ways.
Our encounter was like a dream: magical but fleeting, the way some things are meant to be. I’m just fortunate enough that it happened in this sunshiny city—a place that will always have a tender spot in my heart.