Cairns & Cape Tribulation
Cairns is a very pretty little tropical town in North Queensland. It seemingly has more transient people than locals, and often you’ll hear the mating call of the drunk English backpacker as you roam down Sheridan Street. The whole town kind of has a Peter Andre vibe (you know that piece of shit video clip “Mysterious Girl”). Basically tattoos and tans and six-pack city. But like everywhere, the experience is what you can take from a place, not what it is supposed to present to you. And the experience can be a rich one if you’re willing to get off the trail a little bit and explore. Places like Cape Tribulation give you a real sense of what the tropical North is all about – palm-lined, white-sandy beaches, laid-back locals and crystal clear water. A true paradise, with plenty of space to get away from the mating cries of the horny backpacker. Unless you dig that kind of thing…then go balls-deep man.
A very pretty little coastal town, and the most popular destination for those looking to explore the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. With more tour companies than you could kill with a bazooka, Airlie Beach has an unlimited number of options for transport, accommodation and travel. From Diving the reef, to sailing the reef, to fondling pretty fish on the reef, life in Airlie Beach revolves around the magnificent Coral Sea.
Rockhampton & Bundaberg
With more rednecks per square metre than anywhere else in Australia, Central Queensland offers the traveller a unique cultural experience. Often seen in and around the local watering-hole, the locals tend to keep to themselves, but on occasion have been known to fraternise with visitors, particularly if there’s an opportunity to discuss V8 Supercars or the latest XXXX Commercial. Rockhampton is different to most coastal towns and kind of tries to be a little ‘Texas’ of Queensland. They have rodeos and real fucking cowboys! Bundaberg is popular with backpackers looking for farm work or fruit-picking jobs and also smelly rum drinkers.
The largest sand island in the world, with the only rainforest growing out of sand (i read that on a beer coaster so it must be true). It’s one of those World Heritage listed thingys too. It also have baby-eating dingos, who love a good munch on the little ones. If you don’t like your kids, then bring them to Fraser and baste them in BBQ Sauce.
1770 & Agnes Waters
With lots of beaches (some you can surf in) and plenty of XXXX-drinking locals, Agnes Waters and the town of 1770 are must-see destinations if you’re keen on surfing, scuba-diving, snorkelling or doing that gay SUP Shit.
Noosa & The Sunshine Coast
Full of old people and young, sexually frustrated males, the Sunshine Coast and Noosa offer very pretty beaches, very pretty waves and very pretty people (apart from the old ones). Often referred to as ‘God’s waiting room’, Noosa has tried for 20 years to be manifest a cosmopolitan, cafe-culture, but seemingly falls short. But with beaches like Noosa Headland and Sunshine Beach, they can manifest whatever the fuck they want – it’s still got so much natural beauty, that you’d be crazy to drive past it. If you like hippies and trees and shit, then head inland a little to Eumundi.
I must admit to having a soft-spot for Brisbane. With an awesome local indie-music scene, it has all the benefits of a modern, big city, without the overwhelming density of a big city. With very distinctive local architecture, the houses are all essentially built for ‘Arvo Beers’ – that is, they’re all built with big ass balconies, designed for drinking beers while the fire in the sky sets on the horizon. The people are laid-back, with small town sensibilities, but also a bit more savvy about them. Brisbane also has a tonne of university students, which gives suburbs like Toowong, Fortitude Valley and West End some credibility as quite bohemian centres. The best thing about Brisbane – the backyard BBQ’s. Nothing better than dropping a tab of Acid and slamming beers on a sunny afternoon with half a cattle station roasting on the burner.
Gold Coast & Surfers Paradise
Your humble writer grew up on this 40km stretch of contradictions. Southport in the north looks like a commercial for an 80′s Law Firm, with enough greasy, failed businessmen to fill 25 burning Boeing 747′s. Surfers Paradise, often referred to as the ‘Las Vegas’ of Australia, markets itself as one big night-club. With more fake tits than a lego rodeo, Surfers Paradise is a place full of fake people, fake tans and fake bikers. But getting a photo in front of the ‘Surfers Paradise’ sign is an absolute must for all travellers. Better yet – get a pic with a Meter Maid – the Gold Coast’s ultimate tribute to its own superficiality. However, if you wander away from the tourist spots, the Gold Coast has plenty to see and do. Quiet beachside towns like Burleigh Heads, Palm Beach and Currumbin are humble, working-class areas with great waves, but fuck-all night life. Further south, towards the NSW border, Coolangatta and Kirra are iconic in the surfing world, with 3 of the worlds’ best right-hand point breaks (and of course Duranbah) within a 1km square radius.
Byron Bay, Brunswick Heads and the Tweed Coast
After the fake glitz and banality of the Gold Coast, the Tweed Coast will seem like heaven on Earth. Super-chilled beach towns like Fingal, Ocean Shores and Brunswick Heads are perfect for lazing by the beach with a meat pie and a milkshake. No one’s gonna hassle you round these parts. Further inland is Mount Warning, the highest point on the East Coast, and well worth a sunrise climb if you’re that way inclined. Byron Bay is an obvious choice for every traveller, and although it’s suffering from the old ‘stuck up my own ass’ syndrome of most cliche towns, it’s still a great place. If you’re after weed, speed or anything that will make your face melt into your neck, then head on out to Nimbin, where the local pharmacists can facilitate any destructive desire you may posess. Apart from the drugs, the Northern corner of NSW is particularly beautiful, with lush, tropical rainforests, waterfalls and humble farmland – truly a ‘Morning of the Earth’ kind of vibe going on.
Yamba, Angourie and the Maclean Shire
Like an extension of the Tweed Coast, the Maclean Shire is as pretty as it is laidback. With golden cane fields abound, and beautiful, remote beaches – it is, in your humble writers opinion, heaven. Yamba is a great little surf town, with surf breaks littered all around the place and also not a bad place to stay for a night or 2 as you travel through. Angourie Point is infamous in the surfing fraternity. A bowly, rocky right-hand point-break, it is one of lifes’ great pleasures when the conditions are right. If you’re looking to get away from the towns for a night or 2, then head on out to Broomes Head and stay in the National Park overlooking the beach. Plenty of kangaroos in the park and a great little Bowls Club in town for a cheap feed, but beware if swimming the local beaches as they are quite exposed to strong rips and swells.
Coffs Harbour (& Spot X) and Crescent Head
The infamous Banana Republic of the mid-north coast of NSW is home to some mind-blowing waves and isolated beaches. Beaches like Arrawarra and Mullaway (just north of Coffs Harbour) are so pretty, and outside of school holidays, virtually deserted! But to get the best waves in the region, you gotta head to Crescent Head – one of Australia’s most perfect right-handers. When you rock-up to Crescent Head, there’s really only 1 way to go – the beach. With a couple of quiet little caravan parks and an old RSL, Crescent Heads really has fuck-all going on – except incredible waves and beautiful beaches.
Port Macquarie & Seal Rocks
It’s a secret spot that not many Aussie surfers will be willing to share with you – Seal Rocks. North of Newcastle, but south of Port Macquarie, Seal Rocks is like Australia’s forgotten town. With just 1 general store and 1 caravan park (you can sleep in the national park here!), Seal Rocks is pretty quiet most of the time. But the key factor to this fucking awesome little place is all in the geography. There’s 2 headlands in the area, both offering great right-handers – and also offering protection from winds in all directions! Other places to check out in the area include: Boomerang Beach, Forster & Crowdy Head.
Newcastle, Avoca Beach, The Entrance & Sydney’s Northern Beaches
Once you get to Newcastle, you get the feeling you’re getting back into civilisation (if you’re coming from Brisbane). Newcastle is home to several great Aussie surfers, including Matty Hoy and Mark Richards and really feels like Sydney’s gritty little bastard brother. With a strong local contingent of shredders in the water (particularly at Merewether Beach), sometimes it’s great just to be in the water, watching the locals belt the shit out of the water. Avoca Beach, further south of Newcastle is another little gem of a right-hander with a strong local presence. The Entrance is also a great little Aussie surf town with some unbelievable waves when conditions are on.