Queensland: Towers of gold

By Carrie Berdon

Whatever your opinion may be of the Gold Coast, standing 235m above it is quite something.

To the north and south, an increasingly big and bold troop of high-rises gleams brilliantly as the sun sets over the hinterland to the west. And to the east lies ocean, lots and lots of it.

The Q1 Observation Deck, at the top of the world's tallest residential tower, has attempted to capture this view in a cocktail. With Frangelico to represent the hinterland's hazelnuts and Blue Curacao for the ocean, the Midori-laced, green-tinged "Above The Clouds' is not a bad effort, although there's nothing to represent the towers which is surely what this view is famous for.

But the Glitter Strip is no longer about the obvious, we are told. With the moneyed crowd in mind, Gold Coast Tourism is trying to diversify what is on offer.

Much of the work of late has been concentrated in the areas of fashion, food and art, highlighted in last month's inaugural GCBazaar Festival of Fashion, Food and Fun, which will be held annually from now on.

And at Q1, you can try tai chi in the sky on the deck of the 77th floor and there's a skylight cinema, complete with wine and cheese.

The tower has also become a firm favourite with whale watchers, shark scourers and storm chasers.

Down at ground level, there is a lot in the planning. A 10-year retail development aims to do away with old shopping complexes and replace them with state-of-the-art malls stuffed with foreign labels and designer boutiques.

But with the Gold Coast so obsessed with the glitz and glamour of elsewhere, and with chain stores prevailing, local artists and independent designers are perhaps being overlooked.

Naomi, a designer for Wild Orchid, one of the few local boutiques in Surfers, says she considers herself lucky to have retail space here at all.

For many local designers, their only chance to sell their clothing and jewellery is at the twice-weekly Surfers Paradise markets on the beachfront.

And food, like fashion, is also now serious business here.

Farmers' markets are sprouting up all over the strip and sleek restaurants are appearing en masse, particularly along the trendy Broadbeach strip. Admirably, Queensland produce is the big draw, from tender Wagyu steaks and soft-shelled crabs to oysters and cane juice.

The bar scene is evolving too. Two new editions are Boheme in Broadbeach, an open-fronted lounge bar with alluring and cosy vintage lighting, and The Bedroom in Surfers, complete with ready-made beds (for sitting on, we are informed).

TAKING IN THE VIEWS

Observation Deck of Q1, Hamilton Ave, Surfers Paradise, Qld 4217. Call (07) 5630 4511.

Carrie Berdon was a guest of Queensland Tourism.

- AAP

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