12/01/2011, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Our original plan was to use our stop at the Gold Coast as on overnight resting place before taking off for points south. We did not even plan to go ashore.
But the weather had conspired against us and it looks like we will be pinned down here for several days while a strong southerly weather system blows itself out
Since we are stuck here for a while we decided to find out what the Gold Coast is really like. From what we have heard and seen on our nautical charts it looked like the Gold coast could be a lot like Miami Beach. With local town names like Miami and Palm Beach it is easy to see that much of in inspiration for the development of this area was pulled from Florida. But the Gold Coast is very different from Miami Beach.
I grew up in Miami and Know the Beach quite well. In many ways Miami Beach is like a suburb of New York City or even Toronto. The snowbirds that migrate to Miami Beach every winter give the place a lot of its character (good and bad).
The Gold Coast is more like Orlando with its amusement parks and family oriented recreational focus. Its like Orlando by the sea. But even that does not adequately describe it. The Gold Coast is uniquely Australian.
From the water the Gold Coast looks like Miami Beach. There are a lot of man made islands with large waterfront homes arranged around canals. Like Miami Beach, the layout is designed to make the most waterfront property per acre and the largest possible ROI for the developers.
But the Gold Coast is an isolated development and does not blend into cities to the north or south like Miami Beach. When we came down the canals between the barrier islands and the mainland on Wednesday there was virtually no development within a couple of miles of the start of the Gold coast. There are entire low rent houseboat villages just up stream from the skyscrapers of the Gold Coast. At similar distances north of Miami Beach you would find built up beach side towns that blend into Miami Beach to the south and Ft. Lauderdale to the north. The Gold Coast is more like Las Vegas in that it rises out of nowhere.
This developed part of Australia was very isolated in the 1950s when a small motel called Surfer's Paradise gave rise to large development projects that were used to attract Japanese tourists to the Queensland coast. The beaches here are not plagued with the lethal stinging jelly fish that are a problem in the summer on the northern beaches. The Crocodiles dont make it this far south. Its a relatively safe part of Australia if you dont count the man eating sharks.
The Sharks are said to be more of a problem in the bay than on the ocean beaches here. They are frequently seen in in the canals near the multimillion dollar homes. We did not know this when we got here and spent close to half a day in the water cleaning the bottom of the boat before Shawn discovered the information about the Sharks on line. Needless to say, the bottom still needs more work but that project is on hold.
The photo at the top of this blog entry was taken from our anchorage at the marine stadium just north of the Gold Coast. The marine stadium is also called Bum's bay. We assume that is because it is a favorite anchoring spot for transient cruisers like us. There are a dozen boats it here right now and most of the larger ones dont look like they are local.
The day we arrived we took a dingy ride over to the shopping mall called the Australia Fair Shopping Center. It looked to be much more frequented by locals than by tourists. There were two big grocery stores in the mall and also a Kmart. Sores devoted to tourist junk were there but not a dominant feature. if you want to shop for a didgeridoo this is not the place to do it.
We looked at a restaurant in the mall as a possible place for lunch. It had good deals on the board out front but., even though smoking in public places is forbidden here, the place smelled like an ashtray and was full of semi comatose people shoving money into pokies. We went for the lunch special at KFC.
We have only started to scratch the surface here and it looks like the weather will be pinning us down for a while so we will probably have a chance to investigate further. In the meantime the combination of gale force winds and sunny skies is pumping the power into our batteries so the beer will stay cold that we can surf the net without worrying about how much power we are using.
11/28/2011, Gold Coast, Australia
Pulling ourselves away from Brisbane was not easy. We had actually planned to leave yesterday (Sunday) but our friend Noel Sneddon invited us to the home of some of his friends for a BBQ on Saturday night. We got back to the boat after 1 AM so energy levels were not up to the task of getting underway yesterday.
This morning we got up at 4 AM. That is not as hard as it seems since its already light out at 4:00 and by 4:30 the sun is well above the horizon. Part of the reason it gets light so early is that Queensland does not go on Daylight Savings Time. The rational is that they are a more agriculturally focused state. I guess the farmers need to be up with the chickens.
This was one of those rare days of coastal cruising where the tide was with us for the entire day. We rode the ebb out the Brisbane river and were usually going more that 8 kts over the ground. Just around the time we got out the river and turned down the channel to the south the tide changed and started flooding south which carried us the rest of the way to our destination at high speeds, too.
Tonight we are anchored in an area called the marine stadium. Its a rectangular bay that looks like it is probably the result of dredging operations. When we arrived the land around the "stadium" was covered with Australian families enjoying the beach. Tonight is has quite a few boats anchored in it but its very peaceful and quiet. There is not as much breeze as we would like but at least its cooling off.
The photo at the top of this blog entry is a screen shot from our position report page that shows where we are anchored. If you go to shiptrak (http://shiptrak.org/?callsign=kf6bpu&filter=30) and zoom in using the hybrid mode you will be able to see the maze of islands we threaded our way through today.
The Gold Coast has a reputation for being overdeveloped and tacky. So far we have only seen large homes of man made islands and more jet skis than we have ever seen before. To the south of our anchorage we can see the skyscraper apartment buildings and hotels.
There is a lot of controversy about the way the Gold Coast has been developed in that the buildings have been placed so close to the beach that normal sand migration cant happen and the beaches are eroded away to the point that the foundations of the skyscrapers are threatened. Also, they say that the large group of tall buildings causes a funneling effect where the trade winds are accelerated between the buildings causing very high winds on the city streets.
Looking at it we think the Gold Coast is the prototype for Porpoise spit, the fictional town in "Muriel's Wedding".
We need to watch the weather and figure out when we are going to be able to get out of here and head south.
11/25/2011, Brisbane, Australia
We save the Gallery of Modern Art until we had time to do it right.
Several people had told us that it was an excellent museum if only for the building itself.
The GOMA is one of the excellent free museums in Brisbane and is located in the area called Southbank where the other museums and performance venues are located. It is located at the southern foot of the Kurilpa pedestrian bridge across the Brisbane river.
While we were looking over the handouts at the front desk we were approached by a charming older Australian lady who asked if we would join her for a tour of the museum. She conducted tours every 45 minutes or so and was an absolutely charming lady who is 6th generation.
The collection in the museum is not the best we have ever seen but the presentation is easily the the best. They did a beautiful job of presenting their extensive collection of modern aboriginal art and did not crowd the exhibits by displaying too much at one time.
They had a traveling exhibit of work by Yayoi Kusama, an 80 year old Japanese woman who did not become artistically active until her 70s. Our guide said that Kusama required people to help her by which I assume she has some keepers. Kusama did come across as a bit eccentric. They had a movie in which she talked about "habitual suicide" which is a novel concept.
Her works are stunning and I have included a couple of photos in our Brisbane gallery.
There was also a striking exhibit of photographs of a Chinese Australian named William Yang. He was born in a farming region of North Queensland and developed a career as a photographer who documented gay life in Australia. The exhibit that caught our attention was a series of photographs that documented his mother's life as pieced together from his perspective. Some of the photos were ones he took but others were family photos that he reprinted along with his hand written commentary on various stages of his mother's life.
There were exhibits of modern aboriginal art and the exhibits, and our guide, explained the aboriginal imagery developed using modern materials. Because Australia is so large there are several different artistic styles that evolved over 50,000 years. I have put a few images in the Brisbane Gallery.
There was also a collection of a wealthy Brisbanite named James C Sourris. Sourris collected Australian modern art over several years.
Our favorite part of the Sourris collection was a series of photographs that caused almost all the visitors to start laughing when they saw them. Our favorite is called "Australian Gothic" a photo of which is included in our Brisbane gallery.
The gallery has floor to ceiling windows on one floor that overlook the Kurilpa pedestrian bridge and has the effect of bringing the beautiful bridge into the collection that is on display.
This gallery is a "must see" for visitors to Brisbane