Leaving New South Wales from Sydney and moving up the coast we flew from the Sydney Airport up to the Coolangatta Airport. Coolangatta is the closest airport to Surfers Paradise and is in the state of Queensland. We made this trip up here via Qantas own budget airline “Jet Star.com” Airlines, which was more like flying “Southwest” (or “TED” in the states), than it was like really flying directly with Qantas. We were however thrilled to see a Krispy Kreme Donut Café in the Sydney Airport, right next to our Jet Star gate. This was like a touch of home to both of us and something that seemed familiar from our home in the Midwest USA.
I am sure that almost all of you have heard of Qantas, but there may be a few things that you didn’t know about it. For example, did you know it is the national airline of Australia? And, did you know the name was originally "QANTAS", an acronym for "Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services". I only make that point, because Coolangatta was our first visit to the State of Queensland. As we were flying up there, we flew over areas that reminded me a lot of the Southern California costal areas before all of the excessive development from about the1960’s and on until even today.
Qantas is also nicknamed "The Flying Kangaroo”, the airline is based in Sydney, with its main hub at Kingsford Smith International Airport, and is Australia's largest airline. Qantas is the world's third oldest airline, the oldest in fact in the English speaking world, and the oldest airline operating under its own, and same, name.
In 2007, Qantas was voted the fifth best airline in the world by research consultancy Skytrax, a drop from the second position it held in both 2005 and 2006. I couple of other interesting facts were supplied to me by one of my blogging buddies (Peter Holtie
), who also told me that Qantas is the only word that starts with a “Q”, (but is not) followed by a “U” in the English language. An additional point that Peter made was that it is the ONLY airline flying with a perfect safety record. I will say, that their service was exceptional, professional and fantastic to boot, but the safety part would have been the BEST!
Once we landed in Coolangatta, we had to find a way to get to the Marriott Resort in Surfers Paradise. Both Coolangatta and Surfers Paradise are in an area of Queensland that is called the “Gold Coast”. We found that we could either take a cab there or more reasonably priced there were buses that actually dropped you off at the hotels along the strip in Surfers Paradise and other areas along the Gold Coast. Gold Coast Tourist Shuttle operates door to door airport transfers, one way and return, 7 days a week from the Gold Coast Airport, also known as Coolangatta Airport. We felt lucky that our hotel was one of those with a stop, and even luckier, it was cheaper than a cab or limo.
After arriving at the Marriott Resort in Surfers Paradise, we checked into our room and then decided to check with the concierge to see what was available to do for our week while we were there. To our surprise, there was much more to do there than we had ever expected to do, let alone to have to try and do it all in a week. So we started planning out the week and set up reservations for some of the things we knew that we really wanted to do while we were in Surfers Paradise. Our room was on about the 21st floor, so we had a very nice view of both the ocean, but also of the nicely appointed grounds and pool of the resort.
The most shocking thing about this Gold Coast area was the huge number of hotels and condominiums in the area. I was expecting something, more like Newport Beach than Miami Beach or Honolulu. As you can see from the photos I took there, the beaches were pristine and not full of people at all. It was an everyday ritual for me to get up and go down to the beach before sunrise and try and get some good shots of the beach. As I looked south down the beach all I could see was beach as far as I could see. All I could think of was what prime land that would be back in the states. Of course with a name like Gold Coast, it is more than likely prime land there in Australia too!
The Marriott there in Surfers Paradise also had some very unique and impressive amenities to it as well. One of the things that were really cool and a bit unusual was the fact that it had its own lagoon (with a real sand beach) in it. It also had a bar that you had to either swim to, underneath the falls, or take a group of tunnels to get back into. This was a little dark, especially if you just came out of the sun and walked into, but either way, it was very unique and nice to see.
The other things about the Gold Coast area that were unique, was that it was made up of a lot of neat little beach towns that all seemed to be connected to each other. And at times, it was difficult which of the towns you were actually in. In addition to Coolangatta and Surfers Paradise the cities had names like; Coolangatta, Currumbin, Bilinga, Tugun, Main Beach, Burleigh Heads, Southport, and the Gold Coast Hinterland are all in this area.
Coolangatta is situated at the southern end of the Gold Coast and it is home to some of the area's prettiest beaches. Located at the mouth of the Tweed River, just a 30 minute drive from Murwillumbah and Lamington National Parks. Currumbin, Tugun and Bilinga which are also situated at the southern end of the Gold Coast.
Main Beach is at the northern end of one of the Gold Coast's most popular walks. The historic Main Beach bathing pavilion is worth a stop offering timely refreshments. There are also several dive sites in the area including the wreck of the Scottish Princes.
Burleigh Heads is nestled beneath the beautiful Burleigh Headland National Park. The beach is protected and offers fantastic views north to Surfers Paradise. Burleigh's tubular surf is famous around the world and its host to international surfing contests. Echo Beach, just south of the headland is a great place for a picnic.
Broadbeach has fantastic parkland adjoining it that has playground equipment and great picnic facilities. The Kurrawa Surf Life Saving Club is located at Broadbeach and it hosts the annual Australian Surf Lifesaving Titles. The streets are lined with trendy al-fresco cafes and other eateries. There are some good craft markets on the first and third Sunday of every month.
Surfers Paradise is a popular spot for families with its perfect swimming beach. There are nearby cafes and shopping areas including the Paradise Centre which is situated on Cavill Avenue, the main shopping street. There are excellent night markets on every Friday night. We did this, but I actually don’t think we bought any thing there, but there were many local artists, displaying their handy work there.
This area around here was also called the Cavill Mall area. This was where we found many nice restaurants and in spite of that, ended up eating at a Hard Rock Cafe, which also had a familiar feel to it from the states. Trying to live "outside the box" just a little while ordering, I ordered an Aussie Burger, while Mrs. LZ did the healthy eating thing and ordered a salad.
Southport is recognized as the Gold Coast's Central Business District. Southport also has a selection of shopping malls, boutiques, cafes and restaurants and is sheltered by the Broadwater Spit overlooking the Broadwater and South Stradbroke Island. Both Mrs. LZ and I managed to find a few things here that we just had to have.
The Gold Coast Hinterland is a sub-tropical paradise that makes the area one of the most biologically diverse regions in Australia. There are a number of National Parks within the hinterland's densely forested McPherson Range making it a paradise for walkers. If you look closely at the picture where our flight took off from Sydney flying North, you will see the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and eve the ferries going in and out of Circular Quay. I apologize for the reflection from the plane window, but I was so excited by the view of the whole Sydney area, I didn't even notice it, until after we landed in Coolangatta.
We were here in this Gold Coast area for a week and managed to eat and shop in almost all of these areas. Even though this area is very popular destination with not only the Aussies themselves, it is also a popular tourist destination for people from New Zealand, Japan and Asia as well. Even though these areas are popular and full of people, it doesn’t take you very long to get away from the city and the tourists and get to the hinterlands if that is your purpose. Many of you may have already figured out that Surfers Paradise is where I took the picture that has been on my blog site template for quite some time now? One of my very favorite shots, not only beacuse of its natural beauty, but more so because of the memories that go with it.“It is true, I never assisted the sun materially in his rising; but, doubt not, it was of the last importance only to be present at it.”
~ Henry David Thoreau