A longboarder in Queensland along Australia's Gold Coast; Photograph by Ben Moon/Aurora Photos. See more Australia photos
By Tetsuhiko Endo
When Australia appears in the news, chances are you are seeing Queensland. Cyclones, crocodiles, floods, and an encyclopedic list of venomous creatures make it an easy place to deride. But a place with this many hazards is also a place that remains fundamentally untamed and the rewards it holds for the savvy adventure traveler are second to none.
I’ve come to the Gold Coast, the Southeast corner of Queensland, to try to pack as much excitement into one week as I can, and have not been disappointed. I begin my stay at the Swell Resort in Burleigh Heads —a complex of holiday apartments that come with all the comforts of hotel rooms (towels linens, soap), but also include full kitchens, living areas, and central air conditioners that can conquer even the balmiest sub-tropical days.
From this base, I spend a few days surfing from Burleigh’s eponymous headland, the cradle of modern Australian professional surfing, to Snapper Rocks, one of the world’s most prized high performance waves, to Byron Bay, the hippy enclave that thumbs its nose at any hint of commercialism. Though not as teeming with venomous beasties as the coast farther north, certain winds and currents will sweep pseudo jelly-fish called Blue Bottles into the waters of the Gold Coast. Their stings aren’t dangerous, but they are painful enough that I complain to a fellow surfer.
“Awe, they’re not that bad, mate.” He responds. “Just make sure you avoid the Purple People Eaters. Those fellas really hurt.”