As I peek through the crack in the curtains, mindful of the blinding sun coming up on the horizon, I watch to see the mood of the ocean.
Sometimes, in the morning, it’s as peaceful and drowsy as I am, gentle waves lapping at the sand in a melodious pattern.
Other times I’m awoken by the fierce crack of the surf as it pounds the beach in a fury of whitewash.
The ocean defines the town in which I live, the Gold Coast, Australia. The coastline extends for the length of the city, creating inlets and canals so that no-one is far from the water.
The beach pervades the culture, making it common to see board-shorts and bikinis no matter where you are. Surf industries rule and barbecues on the beach are the backbone of society.
Tourists flood Surfers Paradise throughout the year, gingerly coating their sunburn in potions from tacky t-shirt shops and drenching the infamous nightclubs in permanent holiday fever.
But, like the proverbial onion, you only need to peel back the layers. First, the ones touched by sand and sea, then the glittery layers of night time glamor and you’ll eventually find the soul of the city.
As I take my morning walk on the beach, I wave enthusiastically at the familiar faces of the lifeguards as they go about morning patrol. One in particular, now a minor celebrity due to a reality TV show about lifeguards, smiles back in recognition, his weathered face crinkled happily and sun-tanned hand doing the thumbs up sign. We have never spoken, yet I look forward to seeing his smiling face daily.
Further afield, but only a twenty minute drive, the rain-forest outlines the Gold Coast in heavenly mountain ranges decorated by waterfalls and wildlife. The hinterland is dotted with quaint villages that seem to perpetually wait for you to soak up the creative, peaceful atmosphere, eat scones and cream and trek through caves lit by glow worms.
Relaxation is always so easy in such a place. Nature has created a perfect arena for recreational pursuits. Generally, if you don’t have a boat on the Gold Coast, you’ll know someone who does; and yet another world opens its adventurous arms.
From cruising leisurely around the canals, staring wistfully at the mansions lining the foreshore, to speeding out past the seaway for an open-ocean fishing trip, there’s so much to do and see with a boat, the mind actually boggles.
The most delightful aspect to the Gold Coast is the seemingly accidental balance between high energy adventure, laid back lifestyle and the ever present feel of a small town turned big; but never forgetting its roots.