Friday, 29 April 2016

Robina: Gold Coast by train

After almost two years of intensively riding trains along Australia's east coast for this blog, it only recently dawned on me that I'd never taken the train to the Gold Coast. So 20 years after the 'new' Gold Coast Line had opened to Helensvale, I thought it was about time I hit the rails in search of some adventure.

I photographed Robina's platforms which are beneath this modern station concourse on a visit in 2016.

Now I say 'new' simply because an original railway line to the Gold Coast existed between 1889 and 1964. The South Coast Line as it was known opened south of Beenleigh to the city of Southport in 1889, with a branch line to the New South Wales border town of Tweed Heads opening a little later in 1903. For some strange reason, the official Government buffoons of the time decided that this backwater region of the day would never truly amount to any area of importance, so decided to close the line beyond Beenleigh in 1964. Man would I have liked to have been a fly-on-the-wall in Parliament when less than 10 years later, the surfing boom of the Sixties and Seventies turned this 70 km stretch of coastline into some of the most popular surfing locations in the world. Today, the Gold Coast is Australia's 6th most populated region, and the City of Surfers Paradise is well-known throughout the world.

Robina Railway Station as photographed in April 2016.

The 'new' line to the Gold Coast today runs on a totally new alignment south of Beenleigh, as the route of the 'old' South Coast Line was swallowed up in the real estate boom of the Eighties. Today the entire stretch of coastline between Southport and Tweed Heads is occupied by multi-million dollar high-rise apartments all clamoring for a view of the sparkling Pacific Ocean. The 'new' line runs approximately 10 km inland from the coastline between Helensvale and Robina. It is a fast stretch of commuter railway that currently extends south to the suburb of Varsity Lakes, (about 75 minutes from Brisbane), with plans to extend the line to the Gold Coast Airport at Coolangatta in the near future.

Don't expect sandy beaches when you step off the train, that's the Gold Coast skyline in the distance.

Robina Railway Station opened in 1998. When I first moved to Queensland in 1991, there was nothing there. Today it is a master-planned residential community, and within walking distance of the station you will find Bond University, the Gold Coast Titans NRL stadium and the massive Robina Town Centre and adjoining Shopping Centre.

These signs on the footpath will guide you from the station to Robina shopping centre.

Instead of taking the long way to the shopping centre like I did with my poor 70 year-old mother in tow, look for the yellow painted signs on the footpath leading from the station. We only noticed them on the way back to the station. Had I have discovered them first, it would have saved the poor dear an extra 10 minute walk on a warm autumn day.

Robina has one of the Gold Coast's largest shopping malls only 970 metres from the train station.

Every good railway adventure has to have something waiting at the end of the line, and leaving the train at Robina enabled me to explore the spectacular Robina Town Centre. If shopping isn't your thing, then the dining precinct overlooking the lake in front of the shopping centre will provide you with everything from a hot latte, to an icy-cold beer before catching the train back to Brisbane.

I caught this electric service to Brisbane approaching Robina from the south in April 2016.

Gold Coast Line services run express through Brisbane's southern suburbs, arriving at Brisbane's Roma Street Station in around 70 minutes. The train then continues to Brisbane Airport, allowing a connection for domestic and international visitors. As such, Queensland Rail often assign the very latest in an increasingly modern fleet of electric trains to the Gold Coast Line.

Gold Coast services run through to Brisbane Airport and are usually assigned the very latest trains from Queensland Rail's City Train fleet.

Inside, the trains are cleaner and quieter than ever before, with designated Quiet Carriages and Wi-Fi enabled available for the army of commuters who crowd the trains in peak hour. However, if like me, you catch the train to Robina on a Sunday, then you're pretty much guaranteed a seat with a great view and a much cheaper off-peak fare. After all, everyone else is probably at the beach!

Robina was just one of the destinations I visited in south-east Queensland for my upcoming book Train Tripping Around Brisbane. From Roma Street to Robina and west to Rosewood, I'm searching for Brisbane's best train rides to compile my next budget-savvy 3 day railway adventure. Check back with this blog in the near future for updated details.

1 comment:

David Maccer said...

Awesome pics of robina station in gold coast.