My mission was simple. Discover the Gold Coast beyond the beaches, bars and babes – to go foraging for fun, but with my clothes on. And so it was that I strolled into Surfers Paradise, my new mantra never far from my lips, “fast times, but not fast women”. Too easy you’d think. Except Surfers Paradise is dedicated to partying in a way that nowhere else Down Under is. The beautiful, the depraved, the downright outrageous… this is where they meet. If Hunter S Thompson had grown up in green and gold, rather than stars and stripes, he would have gone to Surfers, not Las Vegas, in search of fear and loathing. Indeed, if Vegas is home to the American Dream, then Surfers is surely where its Australian cousin resides – living it up in one long beach party, seething with energy. Even the city’s name reveals its desire to show off. Back in the days of being a fledgling resort town, Surfers was called plain old Elston. That is until 1933, when a crafty local entrepreneur convinced the powers that be to change it to something altogether more alluring. But the Gold Coast is not just the shiny suburb of Surfers and my orders were strict. And besides, I wanted to see what else the region had to offer. I had the need for speed. First up for some glamour though. Surfers gets called a lot of things, but it’s not until you take to the air that you realise just how beautiful a place it actually is. Getting on a helicopter never gets boring and always feels cool. There’s just something about jogging across the launch pad, ducking down to avoid the spinning rotors, that makes you feel either super-rich or a renegade on the run.