After leaving the campground in Mount Warning we headed to Surfer’s Paradise. This is a town in Queensland (QLD) just on the border with New South Wales (NSW). Although the weather was improving because the clouds had gone away and the sun came out, it still wasn’t hot. It wasn’t cold but I wouldn’t consider it swimming weather. We arrived at Surfer’s Paradise but before we could start exploring we had to eat. We bought a Domino’s Pizza and took it to the beach to eat. The view was great and seeing the salt rise out of the ocean into the air was amazing, unfortunately the winds were quite southerly and quite strong so it was also quite cool. After eating we took a quick stroll on the beach but decided to head more into the city to explore. Surfer’s Paradise has a very “beachy-chick” feel to it. There are a lot of new high rises going up and the town is full of small boutiques. As the name suggests this is surfer’s paradise due to the winds and waves. We walked around the town and Andrew even invested into a pair of flip flops which we paid $2.50 for. This was a big step for him as he had been refusing to purchase a pair since we left Canada and had instead been stealing mine. These flip flops are special because they have the Australian flag on them and say “Australia” in big letters. Now he really looks like a tourist.
We walked around the town a bit and stopped in at a local Tribal Travel shop where we obtained some information about the different things we wanted to do while in Australia. It was getting near dinnertime so we went to Woolies (Australian grocery store) and bought a roasted chicken and some buns and took it back to our van. We had parked right at the beach so we had a great view of the ocean (even though it was evening already) while sitting in our van and eating. The great weather was starting to turn on us and it started pouring. At least we were in the van eating and not walking around. It stopped raining around the time we finished eating so we did some more walking around and headed to the bar. We found an Irish pub which had a live band playing. After paying $15 for 1 beer and 1 drink we promptly decided we would not be frequenting any more bars/clubs while in Australia. Our budget just doesn’t have the room in it. We stayed at the bar until our drinks were finished (and trust me we wanted to drag those drinks out as long as possible since we paid so much!) and decided to look for a place to sleep.
Andrew had heard the police are very strict in the Gold Coast area (Surfer’s Paradise and surrounding areas) with ticketing backpackers that sleep in their vans. The maximum on the spot fine is $1,500. Needless to say we didn’t want to get that kind of ticket as it would eat into our budget drastically. My thought was to get away further from the city and head into the suburbs and just park on the street, but Andrew was very paranoid about this and we spent the next 2 hours driving around the suburbs looking for the “perfect” place to park. In the end it felt like we had driven around every single street in the suburbs and Andrew still wasn’t convinced of any spot. I honestly thought he had lost his mind because he just kept muttering to himself as we drove around. No location seemed to be good enough for him. We settled on a spot in an empty parking lot in an industrial area, but as I got out of the car I saw a very large spider hanging off the tree and it was moving so I said we could not stay there in case it got into the car. So the search started again. We finally settled on a spot in a residential area on the street where we hoped the car would just blend in with the rest of the cars which were parked there. We slept very lightly that night as every sound we heard we thought it might be a cop about to bust us. By 6:30am we had had enough and we got up and headed to the nearest McDonald’s to brush our teeth. We then headed to a park which was at the end of a peninsula and made breakfast there (canned tuna….very exciting). From there we walked along a pier where we saw very large waves breaking. It was very sunny but the wind was still high and the waves breaking on the pier would splash quite high and in places splash over the pier.
It looked like it was about to rain so we headed back to Surfer’s Paradise. The sun managed to stay out and it looked like the day would be beautiful after all. We walked around the walking street and took some pictures but Andrew wanted to go to the beach so we changed in the car and headed to the beach. Since the sun was out it was actually quite nice, but the wind was quite cool. I braved the water but only made it up to my thighs. It was too cold to go all the way in. After a while Andrew braved the cold and the waves and made it up to his chest but he too quickly came out of the water shivering. We dried off a bit, changed in our car and headed off. On the way out of town we stopped at a plaza to get some lunch at Woolies and we came across a map/book shop. There we purchased an atlas/camping guide which gave us the info with all the campgrounds in Australia, including all the free rest stops. Although we paid $60 for the book, we knew it would pay for itself with all the free campgrounds we could stay at. We decided to go to a small town called Beerwah as it was near the Australia Zoo, the home of Steve Irwin.