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Broadbeach, Gold Coast, Queensland

Your jacket comes off, you lose your shoes and an extra shirt button mysteriously undoes itself. Yes, you’ve arrived at the Gold Coast in southern Queensland- in winter. The sun is warm in the clear cobalt sky and although the wind is up, the air is in the balmy mid twenties.

Australia’s newest city is strangely linear, being a mixture of a few side roads beach-ward of the Gold Coast Highway, and an intricate network of marinas on the Nerang River side. The river has to fight its way through archipelagos of man made islands and luxury cruiser landings to finally escape into Pacific freedom past Main Beach and Seaworld.

On the street, towering skyscrapers dominate the horizon, many of them with striking (and expensive) fibonacci architecture, with the occasional half-hidden surfie flophouse bound to the earth like fungus around a tree. It’s still Australia, but only just. It feels more like America, like Miami without the Art Deco. Almost everything is new, apart from the tired old monorail which for $4 takes you the ridiculously short journey from Jupiter’s Casino resort to the beach (although I loved it!).

Look the other way and you could almost believe in the rural subtropical paradise stretching towards the jagged heights of the hinterland, but concealing its wealth like hidden treasure. Gold Coast indeed.

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We arrived on my birthday to a blue moon in a rainbow sky for a couple of days R n R in the winter sun. Venturing out at night it’s a different paradise as swarms of youthful revellers take over Broadbeach’s Surf Parade, outnumbered only by the battalions of police sent out to keep the peace. Amidst the craziness we found a tranquil dining spot and ate one of the best Thai dinners ever. Then back out into the ocean of thrill seekers.

We resurfaced from the schools of youth swimming the street and the legions of hopefuls and losers in the Casino to the safe haven of our room for a pleasant nightcap. It was not to be. The standard Queensland minibar dealt me a dud hand (XXXX, Smirnoff Ice, Bundaberg rum and coke) with no more to play for than to sleep to the thudding rhythms of a cheesy covers band. Paradise by day. Purgatory by night. Look both ways.

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