If you’d heard of Surfer’s Paradise, and made your decision to go there purely due to the images the name conjures up, do not be deceived.
In retrospect I personally become a little overexcited by the name and was therefore expecting to find a small town filled with cool bars and independent little shops, and a community of bronzed people with sunbleached hair, who use words like ‘gnarly’ without the faintest hint of irony. Considering Englands most exciting town name is probably ‘Westward Ho!’, which is only really exciting due to the slightly desperate exclamation mark at the end, I don’t think you can blame me.
According to Down Under by Bill Bryson (a must-read), Surfers Paradise was renamed in the mid-fifties after a popular hotel of the same name. It was originally named Elston, which personally I think is far more fitting for the soulless hi-rise monstrosity of tack which I encountered upon my arrival.
The female population seem to be badly-dyed blondes to the last woman, dress in a uniform of skimpy clothes and strut round like they’re on a catwalk in Milan, despite the fact very few of them would ever even be looked at by a modelling agent, without a sarcastic grin appearing across his chops.
The male population seems to consist almost entirely of beered up losers who insist on either driving round in their souped-up cars and leaning out of windows to leer at people, or when on foot, picking fights.
It felt like somebody up there had uprooted the vibe and architecture of a Spanish resort (Surfer’s ‘proudly boasts’ the tallest residential building in the world) and the clientele of every Liquids and Brannighans bar in England, and unceremoniously dumped them on the East Coast of Australia. It was quite bizarre to experience it after all the nice little communities we’ve stopped in on the way down. It felt depressingly like Ipswich would if it held any attraction to tourists.
All complaining aside, there were good points to our stay there.
We met Michelle’s sister Nichola and her Aussie boyfriend, PJ (in case you were wondering, yes, I resisted the urge to ask him about Jeffman, Duncan or The Grove), who live in the next door town, Labrador, which was a far more relaxed and nicer place.
Nichola has a four-year visa and is living over here to work as a doctor in the local hospital.
It turns out she was born within about an hour of me, so using astrology as my excuse for the fact I’m a lazy, underachieving toerag who will never amount to anything probably won’t wash any more, considering she’s got a degree in medicine and is living and working in one of the nicest parts of the world.
I think I’ll have to start blaming the parents, although Dad regularly tells me I’m adopted, so if you can think of any other excuses I can use, let me know.
We’re now in Byron Bay, which ironically enough is exactly as I expected Surfers Paradise to be, albeit with a few hippies and appallingly talentless buskers thrown in for good measure.
Tomorrow we’re going to go on ‘Jims alternative tour’ to Nimbin, whatever that is.
P.S. Despite what I said, we didn’t hire scooters in the end. It was a combination of my inability to avoid hitting a parked bus from four yards, the fact that most of the roads were dual carriageways and that the other road users drove like lunatics and that eventually kind of put us off.