Tag Archives: Gold Coast

My Gold Coast holiday

During Easter I went to the Gold Coast. To be honest before I went I couldn’t say that a Gold Coast holiday is my kind of thing, but it is a place to visit if you are an Australian.   And really I wanted to go there since when my parents went to the Milan consulate in the early 70’s to enquire about migrating,  and they were given a set of posters. I can’t remember what they portrayed except one where a girl was feeding parrots and they were on her head which was placed in my sister’s bedroom. I had no idea where that was, but I now know that it probably was from the Currumbin Sanctuary.

One thing that struck me about the Gold Coast is how it encapsulate the discrepancy between the image of Australia as a place of empty open spaces with the reality of being one of the most urbanised populations in the world mainly in coastal cities. In this way we can say that the Gold Coast is more ‘Australian’ than the Simpson Desert. Although in general Australians eschew high rise living as recent trends have shown that Australians like big houses with a bedroom and seemingly a dedicated bathroom for each member of the family. So perhaps to truly reflect Australia this area should look like a Delfin Estate type of accommodation which would extend from the coast all the way to Mt. Tamborine or the Springbrook National Park, so thanks heavens for high rise development.

We stayed at Kirra Beach which is between Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta, so we avoided the glitz and bling of Surfers itself.  We did stay in a high rise but as someone who was born and spent his first 13 years of his life in one I had no problems with it, and of course it provided quite a nice view.

Also people who have read my blog before may have noticed that I hate discomfort.  Camping every summer becomes a bit of an endurance exercise for me after the first week, so after being in a nice apartment with an en-suite bathroom, widescreen digital TV, hot showers and a pool and spa below I am starting to realise that despite advocating in the past in being amongst nature,  maybe this is the sort of holiday I am more suited in my middle age.

Of course it was not all relaxing.  One major purposes of this holiday was to experience the fun parks.  After all this is supposed to be a major aspect of coming up here apart from the beach.  I state categorically that I do not find being thrown, tossed and gyrated fun.  In fact I don’t understand why people actually queue and pay to be strapped in in these tools of torture.  But I guess it has to be part of the ‘experience’.  So armed with our ‘Fun Pass’ we went first to Movie World .  It was overall tacky and cheesy.  But I guess I didn’t expect the Smithsonian Museum experience there.  My partner pushed reluctant me and reluctant son to some rides.  Fortunately she doesn’t like stomach churning roller coasters as well (such as the Superman ride)  but we did go on the Wide West Falls Adventure Ride, which consists of a flume dropping down a big slide, which wasn’t too bad (in fact my son which was not happy to go on it initially went with my partner twice the next day, I had my ‘experience’ and stayed to look after the bags – you can watch a video someone put on this on youtube).

Then we went to ‘Wet and Wild’.  More rides.  Fortunately we went on a beautiful 28 degree day so at least we weren’t too cold.  We started gently on the Mammoth Falls, but then we had to go where we wanted to go in the first place, the ‘Tornado’.  The reason why initially I stated to everyone that I would have liked to go on this ride was because when I saw it on Getaway I think it looked like a fun gentle ride where you ride on a tube and gently roll on a big funnel which is horizontal, something like this.  But when I went there NO ONE TOLD ME WAS A FUCKING BIG FUNNEL TILTED AT 45 DEGREE ANGLE AND YOU ENTER IT A A GREAT FUCKING SPEED!

Actually it was fun and I went on it a couple of times.  If you want an action video of the ride you can see it on youtube here.  We then went to the  Mach 5 ride.  Actually the sidewinders (the slide that winds around and you travel on a inflatable dinghy) is heaps of fun.  It is fast but I never felt uneasy and it has been my favourite ride of the whole place.

I thought that that would be it for the day, but no.  Maybe my mistake was to say ‘well that was easy and fun!’ because that betrayed the situation that I wasn’t extended which resulted to being goaded to go to the jetstream slides.   Those are the slides you can see in the middle.  From the photo above they look benign, but they are very steep can I tell you.  I made a quick calculation that it was less painful having ten seconds of discomfort on this thing than half an hour of discussion about it so I went.  I didn’t enjoy at all.  Firstly because I am not someone who likes the sensation of freefall, but there is so much water being splashed around all you see is white, and what happened was that water got in my ear at great speed that made me deaf for two days.  If you want to have an idea of the slide the video is here.

The most intense torture device I saw there (which of course I didn’t go)  would have been a think called ‘Sky Coaster‘ where you are placed in an harness raised over 50 metres off the ground, pull a ripcord before plummeting face first towards the ground. Riders are then catapulted across the Giant Wave Pool on a suspended cable at 60km/h until according to the law of physics  you come to a rest (or close to it).  I saw people riding this thing with absolute terror, being white at the end.  Why do they do it? Why pay $50 for an experience that terrifies you?

There was something I could be on all day.  This was ‘Calypso Beach‘ where you float as long as you like on tubes on an artificial stream that takes you round and round.  Instead of ‘Wet and Wild’ it was ‘Wet and Mild’ and it suited me fine.

The next day of purgatory was at SeaWorld.  This was part of the ‘three Parks pass’ so we had to go.  I really wasn’t interested in going to this park.  I know they do great work in rehabilitating wildlife and marine research etc. but I can’t accept wildlife being trained to be clowns for the entertainment of humans, there is something deeply undignified about it.  The two shows with seals and dolphins confermed this opinion.  And of course there was the ‘ride’.  We settled for the ‘Jet Rescue‘ which while a ‘rollercoaster’ it doesn’t go 18o degrees in loops etc.  Again I wasn’t particualry keen but I KNEW THIS WAS GOING TO BE THE LAST FUCKING RIDE! So again I thought let’s go through it and that will be it.  It goes at about 70 Km/h and there is quite a bit of G force involved.  This video show the ride although it looks much slower there than the real thing.  I didn’t enjoy it and was glad when it was all over.

And when it was all over I said ‘that’s it’  we done the rides thing it was on the bucket list and it’s finished.

If I come back on the Gold Coast and it’s a warm day I may be tempted to go to the Wet and Wild rides I liked, but that would be it.  Certainly I have no desire to go to that other theme park I didn’t go to which is Dreamworld.

In between Wet and Wild and Seaworld we had a beautiful beach day.  The great thing about swimming up there is that unlike Victoria, where even in the height of summer the water is icy, the water is warm.  So unlike summers here I went swimming in the ocean many times that day.  Here is a photo of me on that day. Fortunately there were real lifesavers on that beach.

The last day we hired a car and went to Mt. Tamborine, Lamington, and Springbrook National Parks.  We weren’t too taken by Mt. Taborine to ne honest as it looked to us like a replica of the Dandenong Ranges with its gift shoppes and Devonshire Teas.  Lamington National Park was great.  We only did the walk near Binna Burra Lodge but it was enough to give is a taste of the beautiful forest.

We managed to get to Springbrook at about 5.30 pm which due to the easterly position of the Gold Coast meant that it was already quite dark.  But this allowed us to see the glow worms.

It certainly was a great holiday.  Funny thing is that I didn’t go to Currumbin Sanctuary after all.  So that promise to myself I made all those years ago remain unfulfilled.  Oh well, an excuse to go back in the not too distant future.

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Who wants to have a millionare? I don’t

(or how not to start a football club 101)

Wheels are falling off

It’s now official.  The wheels are falling off the Gold Coast Football Club.  This was going to be the ‘big thing’ in the A-League for the 2009-10 season.  A multi-millionaire with loads of money, Jason Culina coming back from Europe to play in the team.  The owner of the team, Clive Palmer even claimed that the team would go through the season undefeated.

It started promisingly, but what do we have now?  Low crowds, a huge thumping of 6-0 by the Wellington Phoenix and now having to limit the crowds to 5000 because of stadium costs.

Gold Coast has become a textbook case of how not to start a football team.  Especially in an area where the sport in question is not the major one.

People may come to see the new thing once, but then you have to somehow create some emotional connection with the team.  With AFL and NRL which have been around for yonks, these have been established through generations.  So even teams that haven’t tasted any success for years have a strong following.  But this is not the case with a new team, especially as I said if it is in a sport which is not the major code, such as football.

It seems that Gold Coast thought that just pouring money would instantly create a success.  But a football team is not the same as digging minerals out of the ground and selling them to the Chinese.

Fans and journalists of the other codes may enjoy this mess.  However the lure of the rich person saving a club in hostile territory has been done before by other codes.

By the mid 80’s the Sydney Swans were going badly.  Losing money and low attendances.  So in came medical entrepreneur Dr. Geoffrey Edelsten in 1985. Edelstein instigated a marketing campaign based on razzmatazz, excitement and a carnival atmosphere. The doctor flew a pink helicopter and cheer girls waved their goodies at the crowd.

swans

Of course, once the razzmatazz became old hat, the support dwindled and the club once more tittered on the edge of extinction. By 1988 the licence was sold back to the VFL for ten dollars. Losses were in the millions. A group of financial backers including Mike Willessee, Basil Sellers, Peter Weinert and Craig Kimberley purchased the licence and bankrolled the club until 1993, when the AFL stepped with substantial monetary and management support, draft and salary cap concessions.

The fact is that Edelsten, like Palmer seems to treat the team as a diversion, something to look good with rather than something driven by the passion for the sport.

As the football tragic rightly say:

The ticket prices at the club are obscene by Australian standards, and given that one of the promised benefits of membership (see here) was free public transport to the ground, members who will be deprived of this (to the best of my knowledge) under the 5,000 cap have the right to be mightily peeved.

It is another salutary lesson for the A-League as a whole: lone, messiah-style investors, particularly those with only tenuous links to the game, are a mixed blessing at best. Plenty of pundits were frankly fawning over Palmer only a few short months ago, but the demeanour of the man throughout has been that of someone savouring a new toy…one which might be dispensed with in short order.

The fans (small number as they are) are peeved and have threatened boycotting the next match.

My hunch about what is happening is somewhat confirmed by reports inside the club that the club’s lacks football culture.

Contrast this to the North Queensland Fury, which despite a horrible start has been able to build a reasonable attendance (if you take account of the total population of Townsville) and apparently from what I hear is attempting to connect to the local community.

And it seems that Gold Coast is not getting it.  as seen in an interview with the
CEO Clive Mensink

So after ten rounds you ran up the white flag?
I don’t think we need to be negative about it. We want to be here for not just this year. We want to be here for the years beyond. We want to make sure football is successful. It’s a matter of re-grouping and minimising the cost. It does cost Clive Palmer in opening the stadium up. I think it’s unfair to judge Clive as giving up or suggesting he shouldn’t have got involved when you’ve got to ask why aren’t the people coming?

That’s not the fault of the fans surely?
Isn’t it? The team’s on top of the table, you had second versus third with Perth and we only got 4,000. So is that the fault of Clive Palmer? Why didn’t they come? They knew about it. The game’s on.

The whole interview is a bit like that.  No insight why fans are not turning up.

Let’s hope that they change tack.  Or maybe someone else should have a go.

Update: Good article by David Hall in The Punch

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