Be a Tourist in Your Own Town

Be a Tourist in Your Own Town

A Holiday At Home – Staycation

I have previously written about making the most of your staycation and suggested ideas for having a holiday at home.  I wrote that blog post at the beginning of 2020, before lockdowns and social distancing were an everyday reality.  Already many people were changing their travel plans because of the emerging health crisis from Covid-19 in Asia and Europe. 

Since then, travel has been severely curtailed in most corners of the globe. The tourist industry has been severely affected worldwide.

This post is to encourage you to be a tourist in your own town. Being stuck at home during the holidays can still be enjoyable. You can support local businesses as well as discover new things about the local area.

Christina Henry On the HOPO ferry, Gold Coast, Australia.
Christina Henry On the HOPO ferry, Gold Coast, Australia.

Travel Restrictions Due to the Pandemic

Up until now, Queensland has managed to avoid high numbers of Covid-19.  Our strict border control has been effective in keeping our state virus-free.  We have been lucky, unlike Melbourne and Sydney who have faced much higher numbers and harder restrictions than us.  We have two new cases of the new more contagious variant so Brisbane is now in lockdown for three days in an attempt to contain it.

My city, Gold Coast, has managed to avoid going back into lockdown.  Time will tell whether our luck will run out.  We are on the border of New South Wales, and as of today most of NSW residents can travel here, apart from Sydney residents from hotspots. Up to date information about border restrictions can be accessed here.

The Effect of Lockdowns on The Gold Coast, Australia

As soon as the border closed to Sydney, and more recently, when Brisbane went into lockdown for this weekend, there was a mass exodus heading straight for our city.  Why people can’t just stay put for one weekend is beyond me. There were lines at supermarkets and shortages of toilet paper and essentials again – as if we didn’t learn anything from the last lockdown.

Gold Coast is a tourist city.  One of our major industries and source of employment is tourism.  Whenever an Australian city or state goes into lockdown there are mass cancellations of flights and accommodation bookings.  People are losing confidence in travel because of the insecurity of not knowing whether you will be allowed to leave your town, or even your house.  Consequently our tourist industry is struggling.

Being a Tourist in Our Own Town  

Last weekend my husband and I decided to be tourists in our own town.  We had been wanting to check out our HOPO service (hop on, hop off ferry) for over a year.  This ferry does a continuous loop throughout the day, stopping at five destinations in the heart of the Gold Coast.  Rather than drive to Marina Mirage for lunch we decided to travel on the ferry.  We love the water and our canals are one of the most beautiful parts of the Gold Coast.

We were really impressed with the HOPO ferry.  It is set up to showcase the best of the Gold Coast to tourists, stopping at iconic destinations such as Surfers Paradise.  The ferry is licensed and the staff provide a commentary as you pass interesting spots on the journey.  We discovered interesting information about our own city that we had never heard, even though my husband has always lived locally and I’ve been here for 22 years.

We had never seen a floating church before! Photo of a superyacht next to a floating church. On the HOPO ferry, Gold Coast, Australia
We had never seen a floating church before! Photo of a superyacht next to a floating church. On the HOPO ferry, Gold Coast, Australia

A Day On The Gold Coast HOPO Ferry 

We commenced our journey at HOTA, the Home of the Arts, where there happened to be a fabulous market that day.  Our first stop was Marina Mirage where we disembarked.  We walked up through the shopping centre and passed cafes and restaurants, to Fisherman’s Wharf Tavern.  The Tavern has been here for as long as I can remember and is a Gold Coast icon.  We enjoyed fish and chips and a couple of beers overlooking the water.  

After returning to the ferry, our journey continued to Southport Broadwater Parklands which has a fabulous playground for kids and an aqua park.  Following this we travelled to Sea World Marine Park, followed by Surfers Paradise.  The whole journey takes an hour if you remain on board.  A $25 day pass allows you to hop on, hop off as many times as you like.

My husband and I in front of Fisherman's Wharf Tavern, Gold Coast, Australia.  Be a tourist in your own town
My husband and I in front of Fisherman’s Wharf Tavern, Gold Coast, Australia.

Where Are the Holiday Crowds?

It is the summer school holidays in Australia at present, a time when you would expect the city to be packed with visitors.  This was not the case – there were very few tourists around and we did not have to wait in line anywhere.  Great for us, as we could enjoy our day out without the crowds, but indicative of the dire situation for the tourist industry.

Our view at lunch - the Gold Coast seaway, Australia
Our view at lunch – the Gold Coast seaway, Australia

Support the Local Tourist Industry

If our tourist industry is to survive in Australia, we must support it.  If you are free of travel restrictions in your town or city, consider spending a day as a tourist.  We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Gold Coast through tourists’ eyes.  Support local businesses who are undoubtedly struggling to remain afloat.  

The footbridge from HOTA (Home of the Arts) to Chevron Island, Gold Coast, Australia
The footbridge from HOTA (Home of the Arts) to Chevron Island, Gold Coast, Australia

Support local businesses:

  • Shop at farmers’ markets and independent grocery stores;
  • Eat at local cafes and restaurants rather than getting take-out from fast food outlets;
  • Have a night at a local motel with your partner or girl friends (a girls’ night out);
  • Check out the tourist attractions in your town;
  • Buy essential items such as clothing from independent retailers.

The pandemic is far from over unfortunately.  We will be living with the threat of the virus until most of the population is immunised.  Keep using precautions, social distancing and hand hygiene to protect yourselves.  Stay safe and healthy.

You may also enjoy the following blog posts:

Shared on Life This Week Linkup on Denyse Whelan Blogs and Senior Salon Linkup on Esme Salon’s blog


18 responses to “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town”

  1. I love the idea of being a tourist in your own city! It was actually something I had considered before COVID. I noticed how much I delved into exploring other cities when I visited – Melbourne, Sydney, Perth etc but that I had not done the same in my own city so that is something I plan to do. Explore my own city of Brisbane as if I were a tourist (but I’ll wait till it’s cooler). Meanwhile, I plan on enjoying little getaways here and there in my state. We had a few days in the Stanthorpe region in July and have booked 6 nights at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast later in February (once school holidays are well and truly over). Queensland has a lot of wonderful places to go and things to do so the restrictions on travel are not really too hard to bare at all. I also love to support local business!


    • Hi Min, you are so right. Our state is blessed with so many beautiful places and interesting things to do. I used to take my sons to Brisbane on the train to visit the Museum, Art Gallery and Southbank at least once a year. For minimal cost it was such a lovely outing. We’re planning to explore Brisbane on the City Cat one day – it would be just as good as our HOPO here in the Gold Coast. I have always wanted to visit Stanthorpe – maybe this will be the year to do it! Thanks so much for commenting, regards Christina


  2. Hi Christina – I think we’re all focusing on how we can enjoy a break without having to travel too far. I didn’t realize there was a ferry (or canals) on the Gold Coast – certainly something to keep in mind if we ever get to Qld again. We visited Brisbane 2 years ago and absolutely loved our time there (plus I got to meet a few blogging buddies – a fantastic bonus!)


    • Hi Leanne, the HOPO is only just over a year old. There are more canals on the Gold Coast than in Venice apparently! Most of them are residential. Brisbane has the City Cat ferry which is marvellous as well. One day I will make it to your lovely state. I’m not game to book any travel at the moment! My in-laws have a July trip booked – campervan for 6 weeks in the Northern Territory and W.A. They’re really hoping the borders will still be open! Thank you for commenting, regards Christina


  3. This is such a great idea. When I first made my seachange to Hervey Bay I started a local blog and social media accounts so went to anything and everything. I soon tired of it and became very apathetic. I think I need something in between and playing tourist at home sounds like a good idea.


    • Hi Deborah, I love Hervey Bay! You live in a beautiful part of Queensland. I have thought of creating a local Gold Coast blog but I could never keep up with everything that is on here. The odd post about the local area seems to be enough for me. Thanks so much for your comment, regards Christina


  4. A good idea, Christina, while following public health guidelines to keep yourself and others safe from covid-19. Over here, we’re in lockdown so all non-essential businesses are closed. It’s also winter here and some businesses are open from late spring to fall only.


    • Hi Natalie, yes I suspect that most people are put off being active in their local area due to Covid-19. We’re very lucky that we haven’t had to go back into lockdown but that could change at any time. Stay safe, regards Christina


  5. What a wonderful idea! Our little town is actually a tourist town anyway. Unfortunately, right now restaurants are closed due to the pandemic and travel is not allowed. I hope this spring we have a little bit more flexibility.


    • Hi Laurie, That’s a shame that you’re not allowed to travel and the restaurants are closed. The situation within different countries varies so much. Within 30 minutes drive from me our closest large city Brisbane has tighter restrictions than us. Stay safe, thanks so much for commenting, regards Christina


  6. It’s a great idea to be a tourist in your own town. We spent a night in a hotel in our town that most locals would never have entered. It’s important we support our local business owners, especially at times like this #lifethisweek


    • Hi Jennifer, we often have a weekend away in Coolangatta which is only 20 minutes drive from here! Just getting away from home can be so refreshing. Thank you for supporting your local community, regards Christina


  7. Great ideas for having a holiday at home. I admit when I lived in Sydney I took the chance to be a tourist often, getting on a ferry and doing the return trip to Mosman or the Zoo just to enjoy being on the water and all those views.

    Lovely ideas here and I hope you continue to enjoy summer where you live.

    Thank you for linking up for Life This Week. Next week the optional prompt is Back To. 3/51 #LifeThisWeek 18 Jan. I hope to see you there. Denyse.


    • Hi Denyse, Sydney is a fabulous place to be a tourist. My sister lived there so I used to go and visit her. I haven’t been back for many years though. Thanks for commenting, regards Christina


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