Gold Coast: On for young and old
Until recently, I didn’t really ‘get’ the Gold Coast. I know lots of people love it but I sure as hell wasn’t one of them.
I’m too old for Schoolies, too young to retire and too middle-aged to go on a Hard Solo bender and wake up with a tattoo of a merman on my thigh.
But now I see the sweet spot: the family holiday.
This past school holidays we stayed at Mantra Crown Towers which was literally the best. Why? Because it has the best resort-style pool this side of the Pacific Ocean and a Thai restaurant that confounds you into thinking you’re in Chiang Mai, such is the level of carved wooden elephant kitsch and decorative royal family memorabilia.
What’s more, we stayed in an apartment which meant we had a washing machine, a kitchen and enough room to put up the port-a-cot in the walk-in wardrobe.
I know this seems trivial but if you’ve ever been on hols with two small children, you will understand the necessary convenience of being able to heat up bottles at 2am and watch TV in a separate room to where your kids are sleeping.
Life with small children comes with many joys but also many challenges so holidays can sometimes feel like a lot of work for very little downtime.
Which brings me back to the Gold Coast. It’s all about radius. We only had to go downstairs to reach a wide range of pools, from the heated indoor pool, to the heated kid’s pool with a pirate ship and slippery dip, to the heated spas and (unheated) giant lagoon pool. I keep mentioning heated because the weather was a bit crap but we could still go swimming which was a critical factor in our enjoyment of the trip.
The pool area, where we spent approximately 50 million hours, served decent coffee and kid-friendly food which meant we could stay for the aforementioned timeframe.
When we did venture out, it was a two block walk to the frozen yoghurt shop where we dropped some serious coin on pay-per-weight Fro Yo, a Coles, a sushi train and various entertainment options including Time Zone, the Slingshot ride (which we watched with great amusement but did not go on) and the tour desk for the Quackrduck. There were many food options, including Maccas, Hungry Jacks, a lot of kebab shops, as well as Vietnamese, Indian, Italian and ice cream shops at every turn.
A lot of the places are well-known chain restaurants but honestly, when you’re looking to shove a chicken nugget into a whinging child, does it matter if it’s got a Good Food Guide hat?
I saw more teenaged nipples than is normal for a person walking down the street (no-one will ever accuse Surfers Paradise of being classy) but it was very, very fun. There’s a carnival-like atmosphere that is reminiscent of Coney Island or Venice Beach. It’s trashy but it’s vibrant and I am too tired to aspire to linen and kale when there’s Slurpies and Croc Jibbitz to enjoy.
While you’re there, make sure you check out Broadwater Parklands. It’s a free paradise of kid’s fun; a triumph of town planning and urban design.
Also, head to the Harbour Town outlets (ideally on your own – leave the kids/hubs at home) and if you have time, make sure you go to HOTA, the fabulous and super accessible new art space. I didn’t get there because the boys couldn’t give a sh*t but I will be going next time, goddammit.
What do you love about the Gold Coast? Got any tips for making it awesome?