After exploring Byron Bay, we felt that we were ready to leave by September 24rd. At this point we realized that we would finally enter Queensland, our second state we planned to visit outside of NSW (New South Wales). During the journey my friend and I chopped up salads in the back of the van and prepared lunch for everyone in this way, topped with our favorite sriracha hot sauce. Our first stop in this journey was Gold Coast, where we entered a wildlife sanctuary to watch a bird show, observe a man stand on a diving board and provoke the crocodile below him to snatch the meat off of his hand, and, of course, the four of us got to hold koalas as a group! The crocodile act was terrifying, and definitely an act that any tourist should witness in order to grasp the horror behind the method through which Australia’s crocodiles, known to be the largest in the world, get their food. And as far as koalas go, I was happy to be able to touch its soft pelt, but the animal was going to the bathroom while our picture was being taken. Thankfully, I will not include that picture in this post.
After our experience at the nature center, we searched for a backpacker lodge but it was a challenge because it was already late afternoon on a saturday. However, we were able to find the perfect living accommodation walking distance from the center of town, and after we unpacked the four of us ate a delicious chinese meal with red wine while we prepared to explore Gold Coast on a Saturday night.
The town reminded me of a state college town, because people were out on the streets at 4 in the morning and they seemed to have no intention of going home any time relatively soon. Despite witnessing a few fights in bars (in which none of us took part), we felt quite safe and had a great time experiencing Gold Coast’s downtown. We were able to run right onto the beach, located across from all the main bars, and back onto the pavement barefoot to continue exploring the beachfront bars. This made the atmosphere relaxed yet high-energy/thrilling all at once, especially being surrounded by so many Australians who were under the influence.
It was not until the following day that we saw the town in daylight, and it was even more beautiful. My friends and I went shopping for souvenirs and each bought matching sun hats!
Gold Coast’s outdoor mall consists of designer outlets like Coach and also many other expensive clothing brands which I could have purchased cheaper in the United States. There were also a few Australian brands being sold at this mall and many delicious smoothies to enjoy in the heat for discounted prices! It is important to note that the culture encourages shoeless tourists to explore this outdoor mall and all the restaurants around it, and it is quite normal to observe children and adults alike shedding their shoes to feel the warm cobblestones next to the beach. Without shoes on it is easy to hear the “squeaking” of the sand, a noise characteristic of Gold Coast and most beautiful beaches that stretch along Australia’s Northern East Coasts. Some say that this is because the sand is so clean, and others insist that this happens to sand that is made of glass or crystal particles rather than those of decomposing shells. Regardless, the squeaking provided a wonderful background music track while we ran to and from the ocean!
After a full day of body-surfing through the waves, we were tanned and exhausted from our time in Gold Coast and ready to move on to Brisbane, our next destination.