Despite the massive fires in Australia during their 2020 summer, during our January trip to Brisbane and Sydney we did not experience heavy smoke or see burned sections of land. Fortunately, there had been rain a few days before our arrival in Brisbane, which cleared the air and allowed us to follow our schedule of planned activities.
|View of Brisbane as seen from the water on a Duck Boat ride.
Our first experience was a Duck Boat ride through the city and into the water for a look at the coast and Surfer’s Paradise skyline from that viewpoint. Back on land, we headed to the SkyPoint Observation Deck. A quick elevator ride whisked us 77 stories to the glass walls of the Q-Deck, Australia’s only beachside observation deck.
With unrivaled 360 degree views, we could see from the coast to the hinterland. Informative displays shared facts about the region, but we were most enthralled with extended views of the 52-mile-long beach and a unique overview of the many bridges, canals, and Brisbane River that cris-cross the city.
|A series of rivers, canals, and bridges winds through the city of Brisbane.
SkyPoint Observation Deck transforms into a chic, high altitude lounge bar with music and glittering skyline views on weekend nights. Unfortunately, we could not stay that long; in fact, a fast-moving storm mid-afternoon hastened our departure.
Our time at the Gold Coast
As Larry and I spent a warm sunny day exploring this uber-famous resort area we quickly understood why Australians often chose Queensland’s Gold Coast for vacation. Its unique combination of natural beauty and city attractions makes it a destination of choice for Aussies as well as travelers from other countries.
|The beach extends for a very long way.
Australia has 35,000 miles of shoreline, but few are as impressive as the Gold Coast. White sand beaches, stunning high-rise residential towers, plenty of inviting shops and cafes, and a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere lure visitors here. This was especially true since our visit took place during the last week before a new school started. But there’s ample room on the beach and among shopping venues for crowds to spread out--and plenty of activities to keep all ages occupied.
Larry and I started our visit to the idyllic seaside community of Surfer’s Paradise with a lunch of fish and chips at the Surf Club. It was perfect for people-watching and enjoying beach scenery. After a modest shopping spree along the main street and in a few of the 120 mall shops (I purchased a cross made of Australian opal) we went for a stroll on the beach. A well-defined walking path sprinkled with adequate benches and even some shade enticed us to walk further, observing surfers riding breaking waves offshore and families enjoying the refreshing water.
|Waves were just large enough to entice surfers.
I can’t be on a beach, especially one with soft golden sand, without testing the water. So I shed my shoes, tiptoed over some hot stairs, and waded into the surf. By this time, the wind had whipped up, so I didn’t venture too far into the blustery waves. But I accomplished my mission to sample the Pacific Ocean at Brisbane.
|When the wind started blowing, sand was kicked up all along the beach.
Following our relaxed afternoon in Surfers Paradise, it was time to leave this small section of the Gold Coast and return to Brisbane. And the rains—which were definitely welcomed by the Aussies-- came soon after. Additional rain will alleviate devastating effects from the widespread fires, which would hopefully encourage more visitors to this beautiful region.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier