“You will find lots of tourists from India here,” says Jaspal Singh, a local taxi driver, while driving me from the airport to my hotel, Dorsett Gold Coast, which opened its doors not that long ago to meet the increasing inrush of visitors to this Australian city tucked on the nation’s eastern coastline. Jaspar’s observation is not wrong. In every touristy place I go in the next few days, visitors from India appear to outnumber others. (Also read: Newcastle: Australia’s second oldest settlement)
I don’t know why this city in sub-tropical Queensland is called the Gold Coast, even Mr. Google doesn’t have an answer. According to some locals, perhaps the name has been derived from the 70-kilometre stretch of golden sand edging the coastline from Rainbow Bay in the south to Jumpinpin at the northern end of South Stradbroke Island.
The region is broadly categorised into three sections: north, south, and central; however, tourists congregate in the central part, which is home to well-known oceanfront locations like Surfer’s Paradise, Broadbeach, and Burleigh Heads, which are characterised by a Dubai-like towering skyline.
This oceanfront destination offers a plethora of exciting things to do and see here, perhaps more than any other down-under urban settlement. So, it finds a spot on the itinerary of almost every overseas holidaymaker to Australia, including travellers from India.
Gold Coast has long laid claim to being the birthplace of the Australian beach holiday. People have always thought that living near the beach is good for health, as the ocean, while soothing the mind and body, inspires creative thinking and reduces stress. Living by the beach encourages a diverse range of physical activities, from the obvious surfing, swimming, and sunbathing to walking, jogging, biking, and even practising yoga and meditation, all leading to a happier and healthier lifestyle. With 300 days of sunshine every year, warm blue water, and an average temperature of 25 degrees, the beaches of the Gold Coast draw around 11 million visitors to their shores every year.
While visitors from India love the beaches and getting their ankles dipped into the ocean water, Richard, a local tour operator, says they possibly enjoy it more at the various theme parks, which are playgrounds for all ages.
Theme parks make Gold Coast a fun destination
Often referred to as the ‘entertainment capital of Australia’ the Gold Coast is the ideal place to have fun and party. That’s why when local Aussies have mood swings, they head here to charge their batteries, and the theme parks surely are a source of great entertainment for the entire family.
All the parks offer adrenaline-pumping, gravity-defying roller coaster jaunts, easy and fun-filled family rides, adventure and cultural shows, animal encounters to soar hearts, and characters to reignite childhood memories.
While at Warner Bros. Movie World there are lights, cameras, and actions, at Sea World it’s more than just seals and dolphins dancing; there are rides and shows, including a helicopter ride to catch a bird’s-eye view of the paradise land.
At Dream World, the Big Seven rides live up to their promises, while next door at the Australian Outback Spectacular, true Aussie outback is celebrated while enjoying a three-course Aussie dinner.
When at the Movie World, I meet Sunil and Suniti, both IT professionals in Mumbai, who are enjoying a family vacation in Australia with their 15-year-old daughter Sonal. “I am loving Gold Coast very much as there is so much fun here,” she says after landing from one of the thrill rides and is now dragging her parents to go for another one. They have already visited Sea World and have plans to go for the Sky Point climb, one of the destination’s most adventurous activities and Australia’s highest external building hike.
Sky Point: A view to remembertr
Sky Point is an observation deck located 230 metres off the ground on Level 77 of the Q1 Building in Surfers Paradise, the heartland of the Gold Coast. Most visitors take the lift to reach the summit to seize a 360-degree, uninterrupted panoramic view from the surf to the hinterland and beyond. However, adventure seekers climb along the external walls to the highest point while enjoying the view in the open air.
Indians visiting Australia on rise
These days, visitor numbers from India to Australia are on the rise. The highly enhanced relationship between the two countries, regular direct flights by Air India and Qantas, and the presence of a large Indian diaspora are considered key contributors. Many now claim Australia is getting ‘Indianized’ by the circa 1 million people of Indian origin making their presence felt in every space of Australian life. Gold Coast is no exception to this newer emergence. There are Indians in every direction, from doctors in medical centres to nurses in hospitals, IT professionals in every industry, students in universities to cab drivers, and staff in supermarkets and the hospitality sector.
“Can you believe there are around 70 Indian restaurants on the Gold Coast?” tells Rajinder Singh, owner of Temple of Spices at Mermaid Beach, one of the region’s most popular Indian eateries.
This can be encouraging news for future Gold Coast travellers from India, because, at the end of a fun day, there would be a kitchen of their choice.
Sandip Hor is an Australia based international travel writer and photographer