I’VE awoken in a Surfers Paradise hotel room and I have a swollen eye. The Surfers Paradise part I can explain, even to myself who takes a few minutes to remember what I’m doing on Australia’s Gold Coast. But I have no idea how I’ve acquired the swollen eye. I check my hotel bathroom for a baby, a tiger and Bradley Cooper.
The last thing I remember was playing Putt Putt golf with some friends before having a few drinks. Unless things have changed in the past 20 years, Putt Putt, from memory, is a pretty tame affair which doesn’t result in swollen organs.
I decide to take Quasimodo out to breakfast, acutely aware this shall not the morning I will be meeting the man of my dreams. When I head back to the 22nd floor my room key is no longer working. Which would not be such a problem were it not for the strange grumble my stomach has just made. Just when I think my morning can’t get much worse, it does. The cause of my swollen eye suddenly becomes apparent. I’ve overindulged in oysters at the seafood buffet the previous evening, I’m having an allergic reaction, and now my gut is about to explode. In the lift. Full of women attending a beauty conference.
I break into a cold sweat. By now, I’m frantic. It occurs to me that I’m about to resemble an Australian footballer, and crouch on the carpeted hotel hallway with my swollen eye and do the unspeakable. I telephone my friend whose room number I can’t remember. “Open your door,” I scream down the line, “O-p-e-n. Y-o-u-r. D-o-o-r!” A door swings open down the hall by which stage, I am crawling like one of the crabs which is causing all the commotion inside me. I burst into what I hope is her hotel room, and not that of some poor Japanese tourist, and dash to the toilet.
My retro weekend in Surfers Paradise has begun with a blast. My friend, Corina, has decided our next adventure should be cycling along the beachfront to the Southport Spit. It’s going to be so simple, bikes are even delivered to our hotel room. Corina is wearing her trademark high heels, tighty whitey pants, and a koala backpack we’ve nicknamed “fluffy”. I am having visions of my own loveliness, dressed in a long white skirt, hair blowing in the sea breeze, riding along the oceanfront like something out of a feminine hygiene ad. Dame Alison, our other friend, has wisely decided to take a limo transfer to meet us for lunch. I take off and make it to the first corner when my skirt becomes entangled in the bike chain. Corina falls off her bike. We are covered in grease when we limp in to lunch at the old Southport Bathing Pavilion which is now a café. A bloke called Chico offers us a Chicko roll. Things are looking up.
That evening, Corina has planned a special surprise. A trip to the Wax Museum. The operators resemble the Adams family which is more than we can say for the actual wax exhibits. Barack Obama is white. Michael Jackson is black. Whitney Houston looks like Bobby Brown. The whole display is creepy and just little bit scary. We leave abruptly. We need a drink.
We decide our trip to the glitter strip isn’t complete without a Chinese banquet and head to the Focus Chinese Seafood Restaurant with our new-found friends, Cade, Caitlin, Shae, Grant and Maggie. Full of Peking duck, we decide to eschew a trip to the old haunts – Melba’s and Cocktails and Dreams – in favour of an early night. I go to sleep smug in the knowledge we’ve had a pretty tame night. Even my eye has almost returned to normal.
On Sunday morning I awake to find a game of Two-Up in last night’s handbag, a Meter Maid’s business card and bum muscles I didn’t know I had, courtesy of our bike ride. I ponder this as we board the Aquaduck for an amphibious adventure on the Broadwater. There’s no suspension on the vehicle and we bounce along the Esplanade, as do our boobs. Corina tells me to “get ducked”. I tell her to “duck off”. Back at Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Dame Alison sits near a farting man exhibit while the museum owner catches me stroking a male fertility statue. “Be careful, you’ll get pregnant,” he warns, before adding, “but of course you have to have sex to do that.” Just my luck to be the second woman in history to conceive by immaculate conception.
By the end of the weekend, I realise something I’d long forgotten. Surfers Paradise is tawdry, tacky and terrific, just like my friends. It will pick you up, twist you around, dance with you and gently put you back down. But dull? Never, ever.
The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of The Outrigger, Surfers Paradise, whose carpet, she is pleased to report, remains intact and whose bathrooms are to be commended, in whichever room you may find yourself in a panic. To experience your own retro weekend, go to www.outrigger.com.au