Adventures Down Under, Brisbane - Gold Coast (Part-1)
So, here I am in the comfort of my chair, desk, under one roof trying to pen down my memorable adventures from down under. Hopefully, In the next few weeks I shall be able to present my adventures in different blog posts focusing on each particular destination & activity.
I am gonna begin this blog post with Brisbane & Gold Coast, the sunshine city and surfing mecca of Australia. Arriving in Brisbane on Sunday night on June 14th after a 20 hour flight from Bangalore with a stopover in Singapore was pretty exhausting, but I was excited to begin my journey down under. After breezing through immigration, there was an airport transfer waiting to pick me up from the airport to my Airbnb accommodation outskirts of Brisbane city. The driver was pleasantly surprised at my drop-off address, his remark was “It’s far out of the city and may take some time” and we arrived in less than 40 minutes. I smirked at myself thinking how long it actually takes in India to commute from Airport to city and sometimes your travel time to the airport is more than your actual flight time.
I also noticed the stark contrast of no one pecking at me on my arrival, uncrowded airport, empty freeways which made me wonder, Where are the damn people? Only to realize that you are in a country which is twice the size of India but with a total population of 23 million which equals the population of Mumbai and its metropolis.
Arriving at my Airbnb accommodation, My friendly host made sure that I settled into my own private room comfortably. There were other fellow travelers who were also Airbnbing at the property who were delightful people. To my surprise, we all ended up having a two hour conversation about world politics and economy, which was an interesting way to begin my first night in Australia.
Jet-lag caught up with me the next morning and I couldn’t get out of bed before 10.30 A.M and I really wanted to explore the city since I was only getting to spend a day in Brisbane. By noon I managed to reach Southbank, the heart of the city. It was a lovely day to stroll along the banks of the Brisbane river. My Facebook friend Rasila Satra whom I had never met before in person was kind enough to join me and be my guide that day. She had been in Brisbane for a month now and knew enough of Brisbane city. We went around the historic Town Hall, Brisbane River Bridge, Art Gallery and then to an amazing Mexican restaurant for much needed food. Later, we spent a considerable amount of time along the wonderful Southbank along the river. Although, I am not a big fan of urban cities & landscapes, I was quite impressed with Brisbane due to its laid back culture, amazing infrastructure, cafes & restaurants. I shot some interesting images of the city and had a wonderful chat with my friend Rasila on various subjects such as photography, travel, arts & history. It’s amazing how social media has made our world smaller nowadays, it’s incredible to have friends around the world and being able to connect with them is something unique. Very soon, the day had come to an end and before it got too late at night, I had to say goodbye and thanked my friend Rasila for making my day in the city. I headed back to my suburb accommodation for another exciting day ahead.
For someone who’s spent a considerable amount of teenage life growing up surfing, doing surf photography and a part of life immersed in surfing, How could I miss Goldcoast? Being in Australia, Queensland and in Brisbane, I had no excuse. The precise reason for coming to Australia a couple of days early was to check out Gold Coast.
First thing in the morning, I checked-out of my accommodation and headed towards Gold Coast which took me about an hour and half to reach by Air Train where my good friend Jamo Borthwick picked me up from the station. Jamo is quite a figure on the Gold Coast with his surf coaching credentials, life guard experience and also someone who’s like a family to our surfing fraternity back in India.
Surfing wasn’t exactly on my mind that day. I just wanted to check out Gold Coast, the mecca of surfing in Australia! Meet my friend Jamo, see his surf school and more importantly meet the legendary surf photographer Ted Grambeau. But, my friend had other plans for me; He picked me up from the station and took me straight for a surf session. He wanted me to surf amidst 60 surfers on a cold, rainy day with a wetsuit on. Now, that’s completely out of my comfort zone. I had never surfed in cold waters with wet suit with a crowd of 60 surfers before. To make things difficult, It was pouring down that day, which is quite unusual weather for Gold Coast during winters, it made it even more miserable for me to step out.
Jamo introduced me to his surf school chief instructor Dan Butler, who was super friendly and who was more than happy to tag along with me for a surf session. Very soon, I had my wetsuit on and was paddling in the icy cold waters of the Greenmount Bay surf spot. Phew! I could feel the shivers in my spine, ton of surfers zooming past me, consistent 4-5 ft surf breaking with strong currents to negotiate, something I had never done before. But, Dan helped me a lot in making sure I was comfortable in the water, giving me tips and was always around. The next couple of hours was an unforgettable experience for me as a surfer because I was able to catch nearly half a dozen waves, watched other surfers rip hard, exchange compliments and overall just had a fantastic time in the ocean which rejuvenated my body, helped my jet lag and turned on my senses.
I could have spent an entire day surfing, but I had to make the most out of my time on the Gold Coast. Out of the water, took a shower on the beach, dry clothes on, thanked Dan for his time and I hit the road with Jamo who drove me showing world famous surf spots like Snapper Rocks, Kirra, Coolangata Beach, Rainbow Beach etc..
I was in awe of all the prestigious surf clubs, surf schools & life guard associations which has produced some of the best surfers in the world. It was amazing to see the infrastructure that’s built around surfing & beach culture. We were definitely very hungry after all the action from the day that we hit Govinda’s a very popular Vegetarian restaurant on Burlieghs Head, where we had an awesome hot filling lunch on a chilly day.
Next stop, which I was keenly looking forward to was at Currimbin Beach, where I was going to meet the legendary surf photographer Ted Grambeau with whom Jamo had arranged a meeting for me. I had followed Ted for a long time now and it was truly a dream come true. Ted Grambeau is a well known name in the surfing world, He’s someone who’s extensively travelled the globe for the last three decades shooting some of the best surf locations around the world with the best surfers. He still continues to shoot and is a huge inspiration for many. Meeting him was definitely an honor for me. He was humble, inquisitive and listened patiently to what I had to say about the surf scene in India. A brief productive meeting about 45 minutes took place and after that it was time for me to head back from Gold Coast to Brisbane city to join my G Adventure tour group briefing at 7.00 PM that evening.
My friend Jamo dropped me off at the nearby train station to catch my Air Train to Brisbane. I thanked Jamo profusely for making my short visit to Gold Coast an epic memorable experience. I left Gold Coast with an intense desire of returning soon to spend more time surfing with my friends.
I arrived at my new accommodation in Brisbane and checked into my Xbase hostel where I met the rest of the boys (5 in total) from the G Adventure tour. At 7.00 PM all of us met our CEO (Chief Experience Officer) Hendrik Van Der Walt for the briefing, we were also joined by 6 girls who were part of the tour. Our CEO seemed pretty chilled and introduced himself to the group, after some formalities he took us to a quiet Japanese restaurant where he briefed us about the next day plan & itinerary. All of us from the group introduced ourselves about who we are and where we from. My introduction took everyone by surprise when I explained how I landed in Australia for this with G Adventure tour backed by Cox and Kings and my role during the tour where I will be doing a lot of social media obligations and creating content for the brand. I am sure a few of them were pretty envious of me at the end :)
Thus my sojourn of Brisbane & Gold Coast ended on a pretty high note that night and I was eagerly looking forward to the start of my G Adventures the next morning.