The Localist

The Gold Coast – a wish (finally) granted

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It took me ten years to get to the Gold Coast, but it was worth it.

When I was 12, if you asked me where I wanted to go for a  family holiday I would have answered the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia without a blink of an eye. At 15, my answer was still Gold Coast, I had heard so many school friends tell me about their awesome fun-filled trips to the home of Australia’s best theme parks. After hearing their stories, I’d go home and beg my parents to take me during the school holidays. But things always came up, and we would either spend our holidays or overseas or in other places in Australia (which weren’t all that bad either). For some reason or other, the Gold Coast was always ruled out.

At 18, I was aching to go. But I was getting to a point where I was realising that becoming an adult might also mean that I wouldn’t enjoy the thrill of rides and theme park attractions as much as I would have if I’d fulfilled my dream as a child.

At 21, I think I may have given up all hope of ever visiting my childhood dream destination. But then, finally, it happened. I was over the moon. We made plans to go over the Australia Day weekend in 2013 and I was buzzing with excitement. But somehow, again,  after getting so close to seeing my childhood wishes fulfilled, they weren’t exactly granted.

I set foot onto Gold Coast turf, only to be greeted by floods rather than sunshine – torrential floods caused by a severe cyclone affecting northern parts of Queensland. So a holiday where I’d planned to explore every single theme park turned into a ‘holiday’ in which I could barely even step outside. Instead, I sat in my beachside holiday apartment on the 27th floor watching fierce waves crash into the beach and angry grey clouds cover the skies for as far as the eye could see.

Nevertheless, I was determined – determined to make this happen. So defying the crazy rain and winds, I set out to go and do whatever I could at Dreamworld. I turned up, but to no surprise the theme park was being evacuated due to flooding. I thought to myself, could it get any worse? I was so close, so very close, but had to turn back home, without setting foot on the sand, and having to deal with the heartbreak of letting go of my childhood dream to visit a theme park on the Gold Coast.

I gave up after that experience. I thought this was the world’s way of telling me it just wasn’t supposed to be.

But something magical happened this year. I finally visited the Gold Coast, including all of its theme parks, and gosh was it amazing! I’ll be honest, for those few days I left adulthood behind and ran around from ride to ride like a 12 year old. I’m not even ashamed. If given the chance, I’d do it all over again.

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On the few rare occasions when I wasn’t holding on for my life on a thrilling ride I was experiencing the beauty of what the city that is only an hour away (by plane) from my hometown of Sydney has to offer. I stayed in Coolangatta, the southernmost suburb of Gold Coast city. It has a population of 4,869 and is only a 10 minute drive from Gold Coast airport. I stayed at a hotel 2 minutes walk from Rainbow Bay Beach and opposite the Tweed Heads River. It was unbelievable to see how much this beautiful little part of Australia has to offer – and I’d never even heard of it before.

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Coolangatta is located on the border of Tweed Heads, and it enjoys a few things that other coastal communities don’t. Firstly, it’s positioned on a unique north-facing peninsula, surrounded by water on three sides. Secondly, there are the gorgeous beaches, the shopping, dining and entertainment, and if you stay in a hotel in Rainbow Bay like I did, they’re all located within a two minute walk.

So, a word of advice: if you ever visit the Gold Coast, forget Surfer’s Paradise. Head down to the southern stretch of Gold Coast City and experience Coolangatta.

AUS_AfiyatMustaq_M

 

MEET THE LOCAL: AFIYAT MUSTAQ

 

Images. All photos by Afiyat Mustaq.

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