Monday, October 16, 2006

Surfers Paradise

I'm in Surfers Paradise at the moment. Surfers is the complete opposite of Byron Bay. Where Byron has a relaxed small town feel, with low rise buildings and a keen environmental awareness Surfers is like a chunk of Hollywood dropped onto the beach. At least that's what the locals like to say. Personally I think it's more of a touch of Vegas than Hollywood. Skyscrapers built right beside the beach, clubs and bars open until 6am, all the big American restaurant chains, fashion stores, amusement arcades and meter maids in gold bikinis.

The meter maids are, apparently, Surfers version of parking meters, or traffic wardens or something like that, I'm not sure how it works. They are on the streets and people parking their cars seem to pay them for parking. I like the idea of putting traffic wardens in gold bikinis, though only when they look good in them. It is somehow amazingly Australian. Only in Australia could they get away with it and you have to admit no one is going to argue with beautiful woman in a bikini when she gives them a parking ticket. I'm not sure if they do clampers, the scourge of the Dublin motorists, but if they do I like to think they travel around in party buses and arrive like Duff Man from the Simpson's.

The clubs in Surfers are pretty good as well. On Saturday night we went out on the organised Backpacker Club Crawl. 3 clubs, an hour and a half in each and 1 free drink on entry. It cost $25 and was a great night, Shooters Bar was the best of the three, with visits to Melbas and Rose & Crown clubs as well. Each hostel seems to have it's own club crawl rep and their combined job was to get as many of us into the final club as possible. I think they had a failure rate of 50% as people got lost or just stayed where they were.

Unfortunately Surfers is not the place to want a quiet night. This is a party city so if you want to relax stay the extra couple of nights in Byron. The hostel I am in (which I got from the Lonely Planet, not Oz Experience) seems to be a bit of a party zone, which while fun for a while does get somewhat annoying around 1am on the second night of no sleep. If the other hostels are like the one I am in I would suggest that anyone visiting Surfers, and you should visit Surfers, should see if they can afford to get a room in one of the many hotels, at least then you are pretty much guaranteed a nights sleep.

During the day there is plenty to do as well. There are theme parks like Sea World and Wet & Wild, if you like amusement parks then allocate a few days to Surfers. In town there are attractions like Ripleys Believe it or Not, Dracula's House and Q1 viewing platform. The only one I went to was Q1 which is the highest residential building in the world and the 20th highest over all. 77/78 stories above Surfers, the viewing platform gives a great view of the Gold Coast. $17.50 entry is a little steep on a backpackers budget but I wanted the photographs and I think they turned out of considering I was behind glass.

The other big thing in Surfers at the moment is a round of Indy Car racing. Surfers seems to be a street circuit for the race and there are loads of diversions and areas cordoned off. There is not much to see yet and there wont be while I'm here. Many of the backpackers are complaining that prices are getting jacked up because there are 300,000 visitors in town and everything from here to Brisbane is booked up. I haven't really noticed it, but then again I haven't been here long enough.

One other thing though, don't get misled by the name, Surfers Paradise is no longer a Surfers Paradise, its a clubbers paradise, a party paradise. Byron Bay seems to be the place to stay if you want a real surfers paradise. I met loads of surfers in Byron and they were all staying away from Surfers.

Later today I am moving on to Brisbane, hopefully then I'll get to upload some photos (Internet access in Surfers doesn't seem to be great) and maybe catch up on some sleep, though I doubt it.

1 comment:

TPstar said...

Just a couple of corrections. The city is actually called teh Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise is a suburb or area of it. The Meter Maids (people in golden bikinis) are not traffic wardens, they carry money around with them and they put money into expired meters, sometimes.