Big Question Marks

Monday, May 9, 2011

Weekend Exploring: Burleigh Heads

This past weekend we thought we'd do something a little different and check out a Gold Coast suburb we'd been hearing good things about: Burleigh Heads. We're actually still trying to figure out what the name "Gold Coast" encompasses — from what we gather, it's a 'city' made up of a whole bunch of suburbs sprawling along the Pacific coast, and also a whole bunch of inland suburbs, too. We're not totally sure how far north or south the Gold Coast stretches — perhaps to New South Wales on the south end, and nearly to Brisbane in the north? If anyone knows, please tell us! (Check out these maps here, or click on the map, right, to enlarge) But we do know that there's a lot more to Gold Coast than just Surfers Paradise, where we live. People around here tend to have many great things to say about Burleigh Heads (as opposed to lots of bad things about Surfers, but we'll get to that in another blog), so on Sunday, we hopped on a city bus and made the 30-minute trip south.

Burleigh is indeed a totally different world from Surfers. When the bus drops you off in the centre of town, instead of concrete skyscraper hotels, tall coniferous trees line the beach. There are a couple of streets full of laid-back cafes, takeaway restaurants (including an Indonesian one, which we're going to have to return to try!), and lots of little shops. We did a wander and counted maybe five butchers on as many streets. And hippies — plenty of hippie types roaming about. A few weeks ago, Dayle had asked a co-worker at her temp job where the best breakfast was to be found on the coast, and Danelle rhymed off a few spots, and they were all in Burleigh. So step one was to fill our bellies with delicious breakfast. We settled on the Pantry Cafe, the second place we checked out, finding a giant and inventive breakfast menu (Adrian had some sort of eggs and yummy spiced "mince" and Dayle had something like Eggs Florentine but with Turkish bread and asparagus rather than spinach- amazing!) And there's nothing like eating your breakfast outdoors under blue skies in perfect 25 degree weather! While people-watching, of course.

After our breakfast out, we wandered Burleigh's streets a bit — finding 3 or 4 more amazing-looking breakfast spots, cool independent clothing shops, vegetarian eateries, and a vintage theatre that had been converted into a tiny mall with restaurants and shops inside — and we continued our walk in search of Burleigh Heads' other great attraction: a seaside national park encompassing the headland right in the middle of town! It wasn't too hard to find, being the giant green hump by the ocean, and Burleigh Head National Park ended up being as lovely as we'd heard, too. Perhaps especially so, after being in the concrete jungle of Surfers for two months already. But either way, it sure is nice to hop on a trail and wander through the rainforest for an afternoon.

Being Mother's Day, a lot of families were out and about, so we probably didn't see as much wildlife as we could have on a weekday, but we came across some decent-sized spiders, a brush turkey kicking around in the dead leaves, plenty of butterflies, and a lot of interesting flowers. We were definitely happy to have Dayle's awesome camera back and ready for snapping (after a long hunt for a new battery charger). There are two trails in the park: an ocean rim track (1.2km one way) with great views all the way around the headland (where in winter and spring you can see humpback whales!) to the mouth of a river on the other side , and a rainforest loop (2.3km) that winds up and down through the awesome forest. We pretty much walked them all before heading down to a grassy north-facing hill overlooking the ocean and the town, where groups of people were sprawled out on the grass, soaking up the late-afternoon sun, watching the surfers below and drinking sparkling wine out of plastic flutes. It was a gorgeous scene. We had come prepared with some brie and a baguette, just in case we came across a good picnic spot, and I'm pretty sure we found one of the best picnic spots on earth! And to think that this was all waiting for us, a $3 bus ride (or $1.50 for students like Adrian), just five suburbs away. Needless to say, it was a little hard to leave, but we're sure we'll be heading back to Burleigh Heads again someday soon.