Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Burleigh Heads - Tranquil Shores of the Gold Coast

Nestled between Coolangata and Surfer's Paradise is the suburb of Burleigh Heads characterized by serene coastlines, pine trees and pandanus palms, and a National Park. It's roughly 13 kilometers from Surfer's Paradise so it was a leisurely 20 minute drive from the hustle of Cavill. The site gracefully curves as it moves southward. From the coastline, you could see the skyscrapers of the nearby town.

We sat down on the descending shoulder of the hill leading down the boulder-filled beach. Nearby, we could see the almost abandoned Mermaid Beach just south of Broad Beach. The headland was sculpted by volcanic activity and the aborigines used to gather here to fish and celebrate. These days, this is still possible. The breezy spot has picnic and barbecue areas overlooking  the ocean famous for tubular waves, though not this particular season.

Less than a dozen steps from where we sat was the start of a trail that punctuates the National Park. The trail is well marked, eventually leading to Seaway and South Stradbroke Island.

The morning sun was gone and the weather was downcast. From a distance, the skycrapers were a blur, like pencil sketches on a gray canvas.

If I had the time, this would have been a pleasant trail to explore. We managed to get through Rainbow Bay, Currumbin Creek and Tallebudgera Creek but finally decided to head back. We had somewhere else to check out.

Burleigh Heads is the birthplace of the modern professional surfing competition. The first man-on-man competition was held here due to its unique ("hollow") waves which weren't on view then.

I would have loved to stay; watch the sea in delectable silence with just the lapping of the waves as they break to the shore. But it was time to go.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

We could see Mermaid Beach from there. Further away was Surfer's Paradise. 

Follow the trail.

Gorgeous adventitious roots of the pandanus palms.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Around Cavill Avenue on Surfer's Paradise (Gold Coast, Australia)

Surfer's Paradise, Gold Coast - Checking out the beach was interesting. Most habitues were high school graduates on celebratory mood. There were few adults too. At the mall, the population of teenagers tripled, with school ID's hanging down their necks so you could tell who were Schoolies.

There were several shops to check out, the busiest was along Cavill Avenue that leads to the beach. The "usual suspects" were there: McDonalds, Subway, 7-11, KFC, Pizza Hut and other local franchises. There was even a Hard Rock Cafe near Q1.

It was lunchtime so we headed to MOS Burger at the Esplanade near the coastal strip. MOS, an acronym for "Mountain Ocean Sun", is actually Japan's biggest burger chains, but second only to McDonalds. Their most famous entree is their MOS Rice Burger which uses a bun made of rice mixed with barley and millet (a cereal crop mostly found in India, China and Africa, particularly Nigeria, Mali. Burkina Faso and Uganda).

I ordered "Buta shoga yaki rice" aka ginger pork rice (grilled pork and ginger rice burger, see below) which was delicious. we also ordered a salad and a hotdog. There are several MOS Burger shops all over Brisbane (I think there are 5 presently). Imagine a Japanese food chain that sells burgers instead of ramen or sushi? For a franchise that just opened in the land down under last 2011, that's a considerable commercial growth.

With regards to shops, they feel comparably inferior but that's because I come from a metropolis where malls are a dime a dozen and an essential part of ones lifestyle. After all, Metro Manila is home to almost a quarter of the world's biggest. Here in Cavill, they feel like Ali Mall or Greenhills. I am not exactly a shopping creature so it wasn't the most thrilling of experiences. Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum has a branch at Surfer's Paradise but somehow, I felt like I could appreciate it more by reading a book than on pictographic displays. Adult entry is $23.90 (P982.50). Interestingly, they have rates for backpackers (which is the same for seniors and students) at $19.50 (still a hefty bill at P801.50). How do they implement this? Should I be carrying my backpack to avail of a backpacker's rate? Should I look scruffy and look like I just crawled out of a hole?

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Detail of the sculpture above.

Schoolies are told to wear their ID's so it's easier to spot which ones are high school graduates, and which aren't.

Cavill Avenue heading towards the beach.

KFC here, McDonalds there and a 7-11 somewhere.

Inside Cavill Mall are small shops.

Matey commemorates the canine sent to outer space "to help make safe the pathway to the stars". This was erected in 1957. It also symbolizes the equality among men showing "no distinction to class, colour ot creed."

A quiet corner just across RSL Club.

Had to try MOS Burger's pork burger on a rice bun (see below). MOS Burger is Japan's most famous burger.

Your rice burger comes with french fries.

Delectable salad at MOS Burger.

MOS Burger's hotdog on a bun.

A stretch Hummer.

The Wheel of Surfer's Paradise has become an iconic landmark since it started operations in 2011, but it didn't translate to good business, and soon after incurred losses. Operation was finally stopped last August 2013. The wheel sits at the top of the transit centre (see below).

The Q1

Hard Rock Cafe in Surfer's Paradise at Cavill Avenue corner Surfer's Paradise Boulevard, with the Q1 at the background.
If you need information, you could check out Gold Coast Travellers Lounge. I asked about buses to Brisbane, but of course, the way to get there is through the train.

I loved this building. Check out the curves on that one. Tweet tweet! :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Surfer's Paradise and the Schoolies' Rite of Passage in the Gold Coast

Australians love the sun, and they congregate under its warm rays with ebullient spirits. Unlike many Asians who consider it a scourge to get a tan, Ausies bask in its splendor. After visiting Q1's SkyPoint (QDeck), it was an easy walk toward's Surfer's Paradise's beach front where, to my surprise, there were hundreds of teenage kids the locals refer as "Schoolies", the Australian tradition of high school students celebrating their graduation. West Australia calls them "leavers".

Schoolies is a week-long holiday following the end of their final exams in late November and early December. During and around this season, these teenagers descend all over beach communities, frolicking for what would be their last few days of fun prior to college. This is their final party with school mates before they go their separate ways.

The epicenter of Schoolies is the Gold Coast where this tradition began in 1979 (in Broad Beach, just south of Surfer's Paradise). Since then, it has evolved into a tradition; a cultural "rite of passage" not dissimilar to the North American "Spring Break". In Australia, it marks the transition from youth to adulthood, and Ausies take it seriously. You would see them trooping all over the country to popular holiday destinations, but this is most emphasized in the Gold Coast which gets inundated with hordes of teenagers.

Apartments and hotels get filled with these revelers, and problems related to boozing, drugs and teenage angst often manifest their ugly heads during these celebrations. In fact, a breaking news about a girl who jumped to her death (from her high-rise accommodations) found its way to news channels during my visit.

Meanwhile, Surfer's Paradise isn't just surfing paradise but Party Central as well.

The sand here is fine, but the current is strong and unstable, thus best for surfing. Surfer's Paradise is not merely a beach front property filled with high-rise buildings, but a suburb in itself, with a population close to 19,000. Compare that with Mandaluyong City's almost 330,000. Or San Juan's 121, 500. There's stark difference.

This suburb is also the entertainment capital of the region, highlighted by hundreds of shops in Cavill Mall. Cavill Avenue is particularly interesting. It's analogous to minor versions of Ayala Mall, or Eastwood Mall; KL's Bukit Bintang; or London's Leicester Square. I could just sit in a corner and watch people pass by, but more of that next post.

While my friend window shopped somewhere (she didn't want the sun on her face, like most Asians), I braved the heat, and found hundreds of teenagers lazing around, frolicking in the sea or getting their tans.

From the main entrance, right across Cavill Avenue, I walked south then eventually found my exit where, to my surprise, a sign was posted saying that the whole beach strip was exclusive for the schoolies for one whole week (from Saturday to Friday) and those who aren't schoolies shall be prohibited from using the beach for the duration of the holidays. Ooops! I was clearly unwanted there, but nobody cared. In fact, I saw several adults in the area (see photo below). It is easy to understand why such measures have been imposed.

After my walk, I headed back to Cavill to meet Girlie. That was all the sun I could handle... for now. Next up: Roaming Cavill Avenue and the commercial backbone of Surfer's Paradise's.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

This is the main entrance just opposite Cavill Avenue.

When one isn't enough! Ballers, anyone? These teenagers can't seem to have enough of these rubberized accessories (see above). They are everywhere! (See below.)

I saw this sign at the southern exit when I was leaving the beach.

"Toolies" or "Droolies" refers to older revelers who participate in Schoolies Week but are not high-school graduates. Folks shown above are probably foreign tourists like me.

Map indicating the coastline's bevy of beaches. Marina Mirage is supposedly the area's millionaire's row, but when we drove around, the houses looked smaller than expected. Broad Beach to the south was the origin of the Schoolies tradition but these days, it's a peaceful strip sans the crowd. 

For perspective, here's an aerial view of Surfer's Paradise and beyond facing the eastern seas. This photo only courtesy of