More so even than Brisbane, my trip to Surfers Paradise is one defined by coincidence. The place itself is pretty much what I had expected, long beach, lots of bars, and is too cool for the correct use of apostrophes, but it was what (and who) I found there that caught me by surprise.
When checking out of my hotel in Brisbane I was told/warned that it would be the beginning of Schoolies week. As far as I can make out the closest comparison would be American spring break: young people on a break from school heading to a warm beach in order to drink, party, and whatever those go hand in hand with. There isn’t really a British equivalent as we don’t have the weather for it, but a Butlins adult weekend comes close. Basically it was my initial fears of Australia being full of 18 year olds on their gap years, but also worse. As far as busy weekends go, waiting an hour to cross the road isn’t actually that bad.
As such I stayed out of their way for the most part, and after getting some food in the town/city centre I went on a quick safari but was back at the hostel earlier than I would normally leave for a night out. I got a quick glimpse of what it was like, busy, loud, and was happy to leave it at that. While sat outside an Irish bar I also someone getting a ticket from the police for drinking in a public area. I don’t think he was a schoolie, he wasn’t wearing a lanyard and the amount of obvious tattoos he was sporting would be somewhat obvious on someone still at school, but he was still most likely the best part of ten years younger than me. Not one to laugh (intentionally) at other people’s misfortune, my merriment came from the adults wearing orange “Schoolies Official” T-shirts who got out their phones and were taking pictures of the whole thing.
Back at the hostel away from the hoards I had unknowingly booked to be in the same place at the same time as however, I was staying with another even bigger coincedence.
When you meet other backpackers, conversations often start with the simple question of “where are you from”, and will continue until you find the closest common ground. It’s not often that close as the answer is almost invariably “Germany”, but I have met people like myself who name Bristol as the nearest big place people will have heard of. There have also been one or two from Devon, even closer to home, and also where I once lived for a year, but this is about it.
Here however, I met someone who also shared a connection to the smallest of small Devon villages. In fact it’s so small it doesn’t even have a pub, and despite the fact that Icarus is hardly a name you hear everyday anyway, sharing a bunk bed this far away from home with someone who knows your ex-girlfriend’s parents by name isn’t something you experience everyday.
Keep trying Germany, but I don’t think you’ll break that record.