A visit to (Surfers) Paradise
There is a certain, universal brand of city that takes pride in it’s tackiness, trades on it, even. The marketing for this city most likely alternates between “Wholesome Family Fun” and “GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS!” The United States has Miami, Spain has Malaga and in Australia we have Surfers Paradise – home to the “Big 3″ theme parks, other (less-big) theme parks, Schoolies Week, Meter Maids and countless bronzed pensioners.
Located about an hour’s drive south of Brisbane on an otherwise lovely stretch of rain-forested hinterland (opportunistically re-named ‘The Gold Coast’) Surfers Paradise is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Australia. Just about everyone’s family has made the pilgrimage at least once, including mine and, having not been back since, in my mind it was still 1993 on the Gold Coast – my siblings and I in matching neon tracksuits (so Mum wouldn’t lose us), freaking out over the Gremlins ride at Movie World and hoping to hold a koala.
To be honest I was happy to leave it that way, but then, in the middle of a gloomy Melbourne winter, my partner Sean suggested we go back. It would make a good photo-series, he urged, and we can play Egyptian-themed mini-golf! Having won me over, we acted fast, booked a cheap hotel room and before long were descending into the Gold Coast airport with Surfers Paradise spread narrowly below us; the high-rise buildings so close to the sea they may as well have been on the beach.
And just like that, there we were in downtown Surfers Paradise. We spent the first half hour wandering, dazed and hyperactive, peering up at the tall buildings which contrasted strangely with the quiet, off-season streets. There were a lot of souvenir shops, we couldn’t find anywhere to buy sandwiches (just burgers), and I noted the frequent use of ‘Mistral’ on shop signage (for non type-nerds, that’s the 80′s looking title font from ‘Drive’). But we had fun. Our cheap hotel room turned out to be really nice, sunny and directly across from the beach, and when we weren’t swimming we played arcade games, visited the 1960′s wax museum (creepy, DON’T go there) and yes, took lots of photos.
We also found one little oasis among the time-warp, which I’m looking forward to sharing next week. Until then, enjoy the photos, which are part of Sean’s upcoming zine ‘GOLD’.