WANDERLUST

Dis­cov­er­ing a slice of par­adise in Aus­tralia’s Gold Coast.

Cosmopolitan (Philippines) - - Contents -

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.

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