A Beachfront Love Affair


Gold Coast Public Parks

Considering close to 85% of the population of Australia live within 30 miles of the ocean, I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised by Australia’s beachfront love affair. Or the user friendly accessibility that goes with it.

As a jogger along this part of Queensland’s southeast coast, one 45 minute run was all I needed to immediately understand I was in a unique place.

While, back in the States, the same waterside run would see me having to high step up, over and through posh and exclusive oceanfront living rooms, in Australia things are substantially different. Here in a country void of any private beaches, your course is nothing less than unencumbered public oceanfront pathway; one that is extensively paved, well-manicured and, above all, inviting. Very inviting.

One wide enough for two directions of foot or pedaling traffic and intermittently lined with picnic tables, FREE gas grills, public showers and restrooms and, the best part, for parents and children, parks, parks and, you guessed it, more parks.

How many exactly? Well, according to the Gold Coast City web site, not counting sporting fields, the city has 700 public parks for children and parents alike to fight over. SEVEN HUNDRED. You read correctly.

On the surface it sounds a bit optimistic—maybe too optimistic—but then, after a quick count of Kaia’s neighborhood choices (ie. within a 6 mile (10 Km) distance stretching from Currumbin to Greenmount) I come up with a whopping 13 public park playgrounds. Fourteen, if I count the new park under construction directly at the end of our road. (A park, it’s worth noting, that is actually an addition to a skate park the likes of which would make Tony Hawk very, very proud.)

This would be an impressive number even if these were little more than rusty swing sets plopped in the middle of sand boxes. But, except in very rare circumstances, this is far from the case.

In addition to the to be expected swings and various rocking devices there are: miniature climbing walls, elevated walkways leading to interconnected and covered slides, rope bridges, spinning contraptions large enough for a families of practicing Catholics, climbing rope apparatuses high and extensive enough to make a zoo full of chimps dizzy with the possibilities, train cars big enough for an adult and child to pedal around via an elevated track, an impressive zip line and, the coup de gras, even a curving, super durable rubber bouncer literally big enough for 50 or more sugar hyped rug rats to flop around on to their hearts content.

All this with the vast majority childproofed with abundant amounts of cushioned rubber matting and all covered and shaded from a harsh Australian sun. And, most impressive, all within proximity of an easy, over the shoulder rock toss onto beach sand.

To be honest the bouncer, zip line and the train are not actually in the neighborhood. They’re a 30 minute drive away. But that’s exactly the point.

Nestled as it is between the hustle and bustle of downtown Southport and the scenic, boat filled waterway of the Broadwater, this park (and so many like it) are the sort of parks, as a parent, I really don’t mind braving traffic for, or making up flimsy excuses in order to find myself in the vicinity of.

As a child growing up in the absence of today’s X Box and virtual reality super saturation, ‘Go outside and play’ was a parental order I remember frequently hearing. And when I did, it was usually with the name of the friend’s house I’d be at, since the one real park within pedaling distance of the house wasn’t much of a viable option.

It’s only major attraction was a lame ass, cinderblock castle whose 6 ft. high walls were fun for climbing and—come to think about it—little else. Until coming here, I guess I just never realized how bad I had it.

A fact I’ll be guaranteed to embellish with broad, lavish strokes of middle aged, bitter resentment…

The first time I ever hear Kaia tell me she’s bored.

But somehow, I just don’t see that happening anytime soon.


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