There’s still a small group of people who like to call City of Gold Coast the Glitter Strip. I think they are lost in yesteryear because that image is simply not reflective of the thriving, cosmopolitan world city we are today.
We are a city of reinvention as we continue to thrill the 13 million visitors we make welcome each year.. It is vital that we offer new attractions on a continuing basis and our food scene is proof of the pudding.
The make-over of our dining and drinking experience is nothing short of remarkable. Everywhere you turn there is a new delight for your taste buds whether it be eats or brews. We have a booming food truck sector providing a moveable smorgasbord at the myriad outdoor events that are so popular in our sub-tropical climate. And you could say that our craft-brewing scene is getting a real head on it.
It’s a reality that the food service sector is in a permanent state of transition as it follows or leads trends and habits in contemporary society. Yes, some well-known eateries disappear but they have been replaced many times over with new entrants to excite us. This sector has grown by just under 15% over the past five years enhancing the Gold Coast lifestyle that locals and visitors alike cherish.
No longer is quality food provision confined to two or three central precincts, it now spreads the length of the Coast enhancing residents’ lifestyles as well as diversifying the tourist experience. It is driving jobs’ growth and attracting strong new investment.
And, reflective of Australia’s diverse multicultural society, the tastes and flavours on offer are staggering in their variety.
But as always, it is the natural beauty of Gold Coast that also makes us so popular. People may not realise it but the green tinge of the Gold Coast is very real. Our green footprint has almost reached 51% and we continue to make strategic acquisitions, expanding our portfolio of more than 2,300 parks, rainforest areas and other reserves.
And I’d like to make special mention of one of our city’s favourite green spaces because this year is the 20th anniversary of Friends of the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens.
The group came together in 1998 when Kate Heffernan called a gathering of garden lovers and they decided to pursue the dream of a botanic garden for this city. The hunt began in earnest to find a suitable site that met international criteria and Rosser Park was eventually selected. We all owe a vote of thanks to the Rosser Family for their donation of land to the City in the 1960s that enabled this all to happen.
A master plan was finalised in 2002 and volunteer planting days began the following year. It has been a story of hard work, determination, and great success ever since. Volunteer involvement has become a tradition and four community planting days are still held every year.
The result now is a magnificent public open space that offers beauty, serenity and wellbeing to all who enjoy it. The Gardens are a magnificent asset for Gold Coast and will continue to mature as the decades and generations roll by. I love every time I attend a function there or just take a stroll with family members. I hope you make time to enjoy it, too.