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The Gold Coast: An Interview with Jo-Anne Wilkie

AUSTRALIA | Saturday, 25 July 2009 | Views [3618]

Mermaid Beach Gold Coast, Photo by [BehzadK], Flickr.com

Mermaid Beach Gold Coast, Photo by [BehzadK], Flickr.com

As we drove along Queensland’s famous Gold Coast on the Van-Tastic promotional roadtrip, windows down, warm sea air blowing through our hair, sun brightly shining, it was easy to see what attracts the masses to the area. The sky was cloudless, the waves were pumping and the surfers were flocking to the golden sands for their fix.

However, we wanted to get an insider’s perspective on the Gold Coast, and find out if it was really too good to be true. We caught up with Jo-Anne Wilkie, Treasurer of Backpacking Queensland, owner of Aquarius Backpackers, and Gold Coast resident to have a bit of a chat about the area and its attractions.

So, Jo-Anne, what is the allure of the Gold Coast?

Many travellers think they know what to expect on Australia’s Gold Coast; the brilliant beaches, the Surfers Paradise nightlife, dozens of theme parks and the best looking talent in the country. But there’s much more to explore than the traditional travel guides are willing to admit.

Sure our city sits on a 70 kilometre stretch of fine sandy gold beaches washed by the South Pacific Ocean. But what about the subtropical rainforest, real Australian wildlife, mountain climbs, tree-top walks, island getaways and all the adventure activities you can cram into such a naturally spectacular place.

The Gold Coast really seems like a place where you could spend a lot of time. What are the best places to see or things to do along the Gold Coast for backpackers?

There are more attractions on the Gold Coast than any other city in the southern hemisphere. If you want anything in the way of theme parks to indigenous kayak tours, wreck diving to bungee jumping, swimming with the sharks to cuddling koalas; you can do it on the Gold Coast - and it is all within 40 minutes drive.

So after an action-packed day at the Gold Coast, what’s the best way to unwind at night?

After all that daytime adventure, you might just want to relax in you room listening to the waves wash upon the shore. No chance! You must experience the Gold Coast wildlife as the city’s bars, clubs, restaurants and attractions draw locals and visitors out into the sparkling night. Big Night Out operates every Wednesday and Saturday night - just buy a ticket from the reception of Aquarius Backpackers - and it’s sure to unleash the party animal in you. Its big-city nightlife 365 nights a year, but if you’re craving something different, there is always a touring international act, football game or music festival happening, so you can join the carnival when events arrive in town. The possibilities are endless, really!

Sounds like an awesome time! Do you have any off-the-beaten track roadtrip ideas for travellers?

If you can peel yourself off the beach, The Balunjali Interpretative Cultural Kayaking Tour has a fantastic new experience on the Gold Coast. Explore, encounter and connect with the land and the sea – you can see the world through Aboriginal eyes whilst immersed in the natural beauty of the Gold Coast's waterways and wildlife. You journey by kayak across the tranquil blue waters encountering wildlife: dolphins, stingrays, reptiles, wallabies, native birds and colourful sub-tropical fish. Participate with your guide in the journey from past to present and leave with a deeper understanding of the Aboriginal's role as caretakers of the land. It’s a great way to mix in a bit of culture with your adventure.

Well, we’re sold. Looks like the Gold Coast really does live up to its hype. Time to book our next adventure to the Gold Coast!

Tags: aquarius backpackers, australia, backpacking queensland, balunjali interpretative cultural kayaking tour, gold coast, road trip, surfers paradise, travel, van-tastic adventures

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