Famed for parties, brawls and bikini-clad meter maids, Australia’s Vegas is more dynamic than its mythology suggests – and it’s on the up

Pristine beaches stretching for 70km, enviable weather, world heritage-listed Gondwana rainforests, and enough big city infrastructure to keep punters interested – Australia’s Gold Coast is a pleasure centre. But for many it has a pervasive dark side: a city once branded as a sunny place for shady people.

One of Australia’s most revered writers once told me he comes here to have his breakdowns. On a visit in 1997, Prince Charles was reported to have said its gaudy skyscrapers contributed to the “uglification” of one of the world’s top holiday spots. In 1984, the prominent Sydney architect Neville Gruzman suggested the city should be bulldozed into the surf.

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Read More The Gold Coast: the sun-drenched sin city that wants to shine

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