If the idyllic beaches and a perfect year-round climate weren’t enough enticement to visit the Gold Coast, there is the added spectacle of magnificent humpback whales. Add to this the indulgence of the QT Gold Coast and you have a winning formula for the ultimate in relaxation, leisure and comfort.
After checking into the QT, the stress of everyday life quickly dissipates. The room is meticulously modern and bright with quirky decor and fabulous ocean views. Balconies overlook the serene beachfront and the opulent amenities all work to achieve a sophisticated sense of luxury. I jump onto the enormous soft bed and quickly doze off listening to the melodic sound of waves breaking. Despite being winter, there is a gentle breeze and I keep my balcony door open. The fresh sea air is revitalising, as I stare at the moon’s gleaming yellow reflection on the calm surface of the sea.
By dinnertime, I am feeling well and truly laid-back. I make my way to the Bazaar Interactive Marketplace, where – as they say – if you can imagine it, they can dish it up. So many incredible options are available at each station, adorned with pots brimming with deliciousness. It is difficult to practice restraint. Here goes. I start with a hearty soup, ancient grain salads, oysters, scallops, fish tacos, Atlantic salmon, wood fired pizza, prawn dumplings and pork buns yum cha, Japanese curry, beef bourguignon, and to finish, an assortment of gourmet cheeses. That’s it for the savoury, so I take a moment and decide dessert will be butterscotch pudding, popcorn-flavoured macaroons, assorted petit fours and an epic ice cream sundae.
In the blink of an eye, I am in a holiday bubble and the morning light is shining in. It’s almost time to head to Marina Mirage for my first ever whale watching experience. Leaving it a bit late, I head to the Bazaar for breakfast and its incredible array of options. Still full from dinner and aware that I am about to go out on a boat, I am slightly more controlled. Opting for a hot breakfast of bacon, mushrooms and hash-browns, I still make room for a few delicate pastries. Can I get a coffee to go? Of course, no problem.
We arrive at the marina and the water is tranquil. As we head out, seagulls fly over our heads, escorting us out to sea. I’m taking in the atmosphere and enjoying the fresh morning when we have already spotted our first pod. A mother and her two-year old calf with their escort make their way closer to our boat. The baby whale – roughly the size of a small bus – moves ever closer and playfully breaches the water. He turns on his side as if to watch us and gauge a reaction. Everyone on the boat from little kids to grown men, squeal with excitement. This little whale knows that we are watching, and he likes it. He shows off his acrobatics, customarily leaping into the air and landing back in the water with a colossal splash before diving deep, just meters beside the boat. We collectively hold our breath awaiting his return where it is very quiet on deck. This little guy certainly has a keen sense of drama. As the minutes go by, I shift my gaze to the Terns flying above and in this moment, the little whale breaches the water so close, I can see his waving flukes and hear him saying hello.
The daily grind is the last thing on my mind as I take a seat and sip on a warm cup of tea. By now, we are further out to sea where in every direction there are sprays and tail slaps – some close by and some far off in the distance. Majestic mothers, inquisitive calves, newborns, mammoth bulls and spirited dolphins gambol with the whales, enticing them to play. I watch the superlative show unfold as countless humpback whales glide through the waters, catching glimpses of them spouting and breaching as they migrate to the tropical waters from polar feeding grounds. Seeing a whale in its own environment is a truly humbling experience and a memory to last a lifetime.
Such adventure has built up an appetite and I am looking forward to the high tea that is waiting for me back at the hotel once we’ve disembarked. I take a seat in the Fixx Lounge & Café surrounded by 1950s and ’60’s Eames era furniture and bright graphica, enjoying a chilled glass of Perrier-Jouët and an assortment of sweet and savoury treats. Salmon roulade, tomato and basil macaroons, sushi, quirky little cakes and biscuits – just to name a few. This mini-break is a very welcome change of pace and just the thing to recharge while getting back to nature and sampling some serious culinary delights.
Photographer: GC VIP