Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…

Australia: Gold Coast Hinterland

The flight from Seoul to Gold Coast with an additional 6-7 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur was a bit rough and long, but we made it in one piece. As soon as we passed customs we were jovially greeted by Michelle’s sister, Eunsan, and Eunsan’s boyfriend, Young Ju. It was nice to see a familiar face after being on a long flight with 500 strangers, and the super bonus part was that Eunsan had a car and soon began to escort us all around.

Palm trees, sea breezes, beaches, blue skies, spacious roads, and western-style markets and restaurants – my first initial impression of Gold Coast was that it was extremely similar to Southern California, which is where I grew up. It immediately felt like home. I had heard of this similarity before, but it was bam-smack in my face and I couldn’t have been more merrier. Everyone was then perhaps a little annoyed at my constant comparing between Australia and Southern California, but it blew me away on how similar it all was, except for the fact that Aussies drive on the opposite side of the road, which I simply never got used to.

(1) On the way to winery

Aussie Figs

Our first stop was at local outdoor fruit & vegetable market where we were able to grab some large, locally-grown figs, which I had been craving for quite some time. I absolutely love figs, and when I discovered Australia grows hoards of them, I couldn’t wait to try some. Michelle, Eunsan, and Young Ju had never tried a “real” fig before, and they were soon all surprised on how great they tasted when we made a scrumptious breakfast and munched on them back at Eunsan’s place near Gold Coast.

Australia is the land of sand and surf and I knew Michelle and I would have plenty of time to indulge it, thus, my first desire was to go about an hour inland to visit some Australian wineries and experience small-town-life in the Gold Coast Hinterland, which is something neither Michelle, Eunsan, or Young Ju had ever done. Tamborine Mountain, a 28-square kilometer plateau and a nearby town of the same name, is home to a handful of vineyards and we were on our way there not long after breakfast.

The ride up the mountain gave us stunning views of the distant vast valleys that appeared to be only inhabited by Mother Nature. When we arrived to Tamborine, I woke up Michelle, who was dead asleep, and it wasn’t long before we reached our primary destination: Witches Falls Winery.

(13) Witches Falls vineyard

I had done plenty of research and this winery appeared to be the best in the area, not only for its quality wine, but also its pleasant atmosphere. The research paid off. Besides myself, it was everyone’s first time going wine-tasting and we all had a grand time. When we tasted their Tawny Port, we were all in agreement on how great it tasted and I ended up purchasing a few bottles – one to later enjoy in Australia and one to enjoy with Michelle’s family back in South Korea.

(2) Witches Falls Winery scenery

(3) Winery group shot

(4) Above group shot

(5) Witches Falls wines

(6) Michelle and I inside Witches Falls

(24) Sisters and wine

After wine-tasting, we had some great fun strolling through the nearby vineyards amid snapping photos and goofing around. The weather was definitely in our favor and our spirits were high.

(7) Witches Falls vineyard

(8) Michelle in vineyard

(9) Michelle and I in vineyard

(10) Michelle and I in vineyard

(11) Michelle and I in vineyard

(14) Michelle and I sitting on log at vineyard

Before leaving the winery, our friendly wine host had suggested that we visit a local cheese store and sample some locally-made cheeses there. This seemed like a good idea, so we drove the few kilometers into Tamborine and found the cheese store, which was located next to a microbrewery called Fortitude. Upon walking into the cheese store we realized that there wasn’t really any tasting available and that it became immediately packed with people in a matter of seconds. It was quite bizarre and none of us felt like waiting, so we strolled around until we found a nice outdoor lounge adjacent to the brewery and decided to chill there for a few moments.

(20) Michelle inside Fortitude Brewery


(19) Mt. Tamboine, Michelle and I

We had just sampled some wine, so mixing in a heavy, although tasty micro-brewed beer with that would not be the best idea on an empty stomach, so we decided to take a stroll through downtown Tamborine in hopes to find a relaxing place to grab a coffee drink and a bite to eat. After checking out some random shops, one of which was selling a hand-crafted grandfather clock for over $20,000, we decided on an outdoor cafe where several of us had an outstanding cappuccino. I wish I could remember the name of the place…

With time to spare before our dinner reservation in downtown Gold Coast and our stomachs settled and feeling energized after a delightful cappuccino, I mentioned the idea of visiting a microbrewery that I had previously researched in Gold Coast called Burleigh Brewing Company. Everyone was game and we were soon on our way.

(16) Michelle and Burleigh Brewing Co(22) Inside Burleigh Brewing Company(21) Eunsan and boyfriend inside Burleigh Brewing Company

The brewery was a bit tricky to find as it was located in the middle of an industrial park, but it was well worth the effort. Michelle and I shared their well-balanced Pale Ale, and Eunsan and Young Ju shared their slightly fruity Hefeweizen, both of which were delicious. After we finished our beers and sat chatting for awhile, we then headed to downtown Gold Coast had a pleasant time checking out a street market full of unique wares.

(18) Surfers Paradise at night

Not before long we were chowing down on delicious Mexican food at a restaurant Eunsan had made a reservation for called BONITA BONITA.

(23) Chicken and Avocado Taco, Gold Coast

We were stuffed. I definitely felt like I had eaten too much, but the guacamole-loaded tacos were magnificent and I had to savor every bite I could possibly manage.

Later that evening at the nearby train station we had but a few minutes to spare, so all of us held hands and prayed together in thanks for our safe arrival, safe trips to our future destinations, and for Jesus’ love for us. We all felt at peace. Michelle and I then conveyed our appreciation and said our goodbyes to Eunsan and Young Ju. A few moments later we are on a train to Brisbane to continue our adventure in Australia…

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“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.”

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