Gold Coast is one of Australia’s cities with more population, and the second one in Queensland. It was also my first stop in this state. The Gold Coast is known by its massive beach, the parties and the man-made canals. The area with more population is centered in one area by the beach, a strip of land bordered by the canals and the ocean, while the rest is very well-connected by the canals and with a more suburban look.
In almost all guides, the city’s name appears as Surfers Paradise, though this is just one of the districts, but the most interesting one for younger people. Everything happens there, parties, pubs, cafés and restaurants. According to the locals, the city isn’t really a paradise for surfers , mostly because of the mass tourism that happens all year round, which then instead of heavenly waves, surfers find overcrowded ones. Though, there is much more than surfing at the Gold Coast, you can also enjoy yourself at one of the many amusement parts, which unfortunately I ended up not visiting any…, I still regret that decision…
Regarding the nightlife activities, considering that the city is well-known by backpackers, I guess it is quite easy to imagine how crazy those nights can be. And for those staying at hostels, the fun can be even better. While I was there, they organized a pub crawl for all backpackers staying in hostels, a way to gather young people in the same places. Another way to put this, a night to go wild…
I am not crazy about nightlife, I like to spend time with friends and drink a few drinks, but I am not much a fan of getting absolutely drunk to the point of forgetting what I did the night before. And when I travel, I am even more boring (for some), I just want to enjoy where I am, and I have the opinion that if I want to get drunk, I can do that back home. Before I arrived in Surfers Paradise I was already a bit regretful, the stop was merely strategical to relax a few days and enjoy some sun, but when I found out the main reason why that city attracts so many backpackers, I got a bit uneasy…
I was uneasy even regarding the hostel, I purchased a multi-night hostel pass for a hostel network, Nomads/BaseX, and I wanted to take advantage of all those (already paid) nights. Considering that network is really popular, I was really afraid about how crazy the parties at the hostel could become, and that definitely it wasn’t what I was looking for.., however I ended up loving the place where I stayed, Buds in Surfers backpackers. Though, the first impact wasn’t the best, it is really a budget hostel, but the hostel life was one of the best I found in Australia!
Old bedrooms, without indoors corridor. You open the room’s door and you’re outside…, to shower you need to go outside. The kitchen is tiny, and to eat you have to sit outside, but if it is raining you can sit under the cover they have. The bar is joint with the reception, but it has to close at 10 PM because they can’t work as a pub, and when the reception is closed, if you arrive late you need to use the side gate. If it is raining, better to go to the first floor’s toilet, because most likely the one on the ground floor is already flooded. And yes, this sounds like a horror movie, but despite all of this I loved the hostel-life I found in that place. Sometimes, we have the best experiences at the least likable places.
Socializing with the other guests
One of the biggest advantages to stay in such a small hostel, it is the almost mandatory socialization, sooner or later you’ll meet the other guests. I noticed a bit of an age barrier, but it was there where I found it easier to mingle with other people. We played cards a lot of times, and I was introduced to a game that until then I have had never heard of, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, which I ended up buying as soon as I returned to Ireland. I think that it was also after the Gold Coast when I start noticing the pattern of nationalities I was stumbling into, chances were that most likely I would find an English person, and a very good chance to also meet a Canadian.
Besides playing One Night Werewolf for several hours, we also took part in some other activities organized by the hostel. I stayed there for three nights, and the first night we had pizza party and then we all went to a pub. And a BBQ the second night, which was also the hostels’ night and supposedly also the best night to go out. The hangover from the previous night had a heavy part on my decision not to go out two nights in a row…, one night to purely relax, in the party city.
Enjoying the hostel’s salt water pool
Another detail about the hostel is the salt water pool, I noticed that this is actually quite common in Australia, considering the heat…, it is an excellent way to attract more backpackers. The first thing I did right after waking up was diving into the pool to wake up, only after I went to the shower. Oh, good times…
Since I was visiting, I avoided spending too much time at the hostel, leaving in the morning and coming back by the end of the afternoon. At times I also went back at lunch time to save some money, but I would go out again right after eating. The evenings were spent with the other guests, and as expected I met really interesting people.
One of those I met is a New Zealander man who lives in and out in Australia for many years, he doesn’t even have a residency permit! For the past 40 years he has to leave Australia one or two times a year so that he can go back as a tourist. His sons born in Australia, so they have a house, but he insists in being a permanent tourist. That gentleman’s story amazed me, he was staying there just because he got bored and he wanted to go to the beach for a few days, he went on his own and he stayed in a youth hostel.
How does the house numbering system works in Australia rural areas?
One of the curiosities that gentleman shared with us is how the house numbering system works in Australia rural areas. Since some properties and houses can be apart for several kilometers, some even tenths of kilometers, so the house numbering system is based on those distances. The number isn’t sequential, but by “tenth of meters” since the beginning of the road. For example, a house that is at the kilometer 5,340 will have the number 530.
One of the other senior guests was a lady who only spent one night with us, but what made everything different was her unique way to introduce herself. Apparently, she sleep-talks (and swears)…, and she warned us only so that we wouldn’t get scared if we woke up with her shouting swearing words during the night…, ok…, shall I be concerned about anything? Of course not, we even got eager to see that happening, I am sure it would be a great story to share…, though that didn’t happen…
And it was time to get to know a bit of the Gold Coast
Surfers Paradise district isn’t that big, and considering that my hostel was just two or three blocks away from the beach, I didn’t even have to make a big effort… The center is packed with stores and pedestrian streets, with a tram line crossing the whole neighborhood always parallel to the beach. I lost the count of how many times I passed in that street, a really pleasant area and always with that feeling of holiday, even if the skies were a bit too grey… Of course I had to go to the beach, sun bathing in between the rain showers…, and even though I was with a stupid fear of facing sharks, I also went for a swim. And truth be said, the biggest issue at sea are the venomous jellyfish that can induce severe injures to humans, even death.
Being in Surfers Paradise, of course I had to check that cliché item from my Bucket List, I paid for a two hours surfing class with guaranty that I would stand at least once. Since I surfed before in Ireland, I honestly expected I would learn a few things, but the class was for absolute beginners.
It was still fun though, even if not just because of the Korean guy that went with me and who barely could speak any English, but really almost nothing, however he was really good at surfing! We were only two plus the instructor, it was almost like a private class in a beach further away from the urban center. I took my GoPro with me, I also made a few videos that one of these days I’ll edit and upload to share here with you.
After the surf class, I went back to the hostel, my last afternoon in that city and still so much to do and see…, I couldn’t decide what to do next, so I ended up going to the canal that was one block at the back of the hostel to see the sunset, a few solo moments to enjoy those magical couple of minutes. After a few quite intense days, it felt like heaven to be there, doing absolutely nothing, only appreciating the sky colors reflected on the canal waters.
The canals have a few tiny beaches, and one of them is right where I went to see the sunset, and while I was walking along the beach I saw a few crabs that were there, hermit crabs, the first time I saw them in Nature! I spent so much time only looking at them being dragged up and down by the waves.
And my days at Surfers Paradise were over…, back to the hostel to pack and get ready for another trip…
Where is Surfers Paradise, and how to get there?
Surfers Paradise is a district in Gold Coast, a city that is in Queensland very close to the border with New South Wales, about one hour by bus from Brisbane. Besides buses, you can also get there by plane and by train. You can find really good flight deals to Brisbane, and don’t forget that Australia is one massive country, the fastest way to travel between cities is really by air.
For those, like myself, that arrive coming from south, you should be aware that the timezone might be one hour less. Unlike New South Wales, Queensland doesn’t have follow a Daylight Saving Time timezone, so the time change really depends on when you cross the border. Since I went there during summer, I had to adjust my clock. Therefore, you must take that into consideration when you make bookings, one hour can make a big difference…
My trip from Byron Bay to the Gold Coast was quite wet, tropical rains during most of the time…, and I think I was really lucky, considering that during my stay there I only got a few drops. Despite the reputation that Australia has as a hot country, it should be taken into account that part of the country is in between the tropics, and that they have a few rainforests, which means, a lot of rain.