It’s an annual migration as predictable as wildebeests crossing the Serengeti: plane loads of Victorians fleeing a frigid winter for a break in sunny Queensland. Standard also is the passengers’ uniform of choice on this flight: black puffer jackets. But row 14 is different. I’m wearing a yellow jumper, the woman next to me sports a red cardigan, while her friend in the window seat is resplendent in green.

“Spring colours!” the flight attendant beams, her eye drawn to our cheery ensemble. But her sunny visage abruptly clouds over, and she adds – almost by way of apology – “Optimistic…”

An audible groan spread through the cabin when the captain announced we’d be beginning our descent to the Gold Coast, where the temperature was “a brisk 13 degrees.” Brisk was a euphemism for bonkers. Had Queensland ever known such nip? Apparently not, going by the remarks from locals as we check into the InterContinental Hotel Sanctuary Cove. The warm welcome at the hotel’s stately Great House usurps the chill instantly though, and we’re shown to a table at The Verandah Bar to get acquainted with one the Gold Coast’s most illustrious resorts.

Sculpted from a swamp by brash property developer Mike Gore, the exclusive gated community opened in 1988 to mass fanfare, and some scepticism. Frank Sinatra was lured to sing at the launch, having previously vowed never to return to Australia after a disastrous tour in 1974. Clive James, who hosted the opening, called Sanctuary Cove a “purpose built hideaway for the discerning Australian,” with its rows of waterfront mansions, super yachts, boutique shopping village, an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course, and a lavish, tropical-scented resort as centrepiece. The fact it’s still going strong 34 years later is testament to the enduring appeal of the “white shoe” lifestyle. From where I sit now it doesn’t feel dated in the slightest…

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