With us all trying to (somehow) muddle our way through this 21st century we live in, along with being in the midst of a pandemic, we can often forget to ‘stop and smell the roses’, AKA appreciate the little things in life. And sadly that sometimes means the simple act of laughing. So what better time to catch up with long-time Gold Coast local, and worldly ‘Happy Human’, Scott Williams. From humble beginnings, this self-made character now shares his love of life and happiness with people across the world. We get to know his story and his local favourites.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I have called the Gold Coast home since 1976. That’s a long time! It is on the GC that I met my wife Angie (the year I arrived, in early 1976) and it’s also where our son Oliver was born. The Gold Coast is where I got my early ‘show business break’ – so I have a lot to thank the GC for.
Tell us a bit about your career to date.
The year my family arrived on the GC I did grade 11 at Keebra Park High School. In the Christmas holidays of that 1976 I met hypnotist Ronricco, a Gold Coast icon. He would tour the world most of the year and always come home to the GC for Christmas, usually doing shows somewhere. In 1976/1977 Christmas season, he was performing at the old Pacific Hotel in Southport. I ended up getting a job with him and never made it back to grade 12! My first newspaper article was in the Gold Coast Bulletin in January of 1977! I was thrilled. It was a picture of Ronricco and myself outside the Celebrity Room at the Broadbeach International Hotel. I toured the world with Ronricco for 5 years, learning my craft. I started as Ronricco’s stage manager and was encouraged by Ronricco to develop a magic act. My girlfriend at the time, and now wife, Angie finished Grade 12 (she’s the smart one in the family!) and joined us as we toured Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK. She made an excellent magic assistant! Meeting Ronricco on the Gold Coast in 1976 fundamentally changed the direction of my life.
Following my time with Ronricco I secured a job at The Magic Castle, Nobbys Beach with another world-famous act and GC icon, International escapologist and magician Arthur Coghlan. Arthur gave me the opportunity to work with large-scale illusions and I performed regularly with Arthur in the magic theatre for a number of years. Later when it became Magic Mountain I was invited back and performed there again until it closed in 1987, the year Oliver, my son, was born. International touring became difficult with a young family so Angie and I decided to stay on the Coast and I moved into the corporate arena, performing magic and then stand-up comedy. I did that for over 30 years. Facilitation of conferences and conventions at home and abroad also became an important part of my career. In my busiest times, I was often doing around 100 flights a year, so it was all go, go, go! In the last few years, the opportunity to be a part of the cruise ship industry opened up to me and I thoroughly enjoyed performing on many unique vessels all over the world. Of course, everything came to a crashing holt when COVID came along. But like others, during COVID, I decided to explore other ways I could continue my craft; which is when I set up a home broadcast studio and emceed some events virtually as well as recording a weekly tip talk on happiness called “A minute on happiness.”
What career achievement are you most proud of?
Probably my ability to evolve to meet new markets and demands. From magic to comedy, to conference facilitation and then into corporate speaking with ‘The Happy Human’. The ability to adapt and change has given me a long and very interesting career that has lasted for 40 years – so I am very thankful for that.
What do you love the most about making people laugh?
It’s a tough world out there sometimes, and the more stressed we become the less we tend to laugh. So to have the ability to make a positive contribution to people’s lives through laughter is truly a blessing. Clean comedy has always been the basis of my shows, and to hear someone say “I can’t believe I have laughed so hard for an hour and not heard a swear word “ is a great return on my investment.
Why is laughing so important?
Laughter releases endorphins, one of the ‘feel good’ chemicals produced naturally in the body. This chemical elevates our mood and gives us a warm glow! We interpret that glow as a sense of happiness. When we feel happy, a perception of hope is created. So laughter effectively becomes a’ hope generator’ for us, and that is really important because, without hope, life just feels like a grind.
If you had to give people some advice, what would that be?
I love to quote Dennis Prager who said: “Don’t let compliments go to your head and don’t let insults go to your heart”. That sums it up nicely. Sometimes we take ourselves and others too seriously and it can backfire on us.
Tell us your best joke!
Are you trying to steal my act? Seriously, there are so many jokes I love and I have probably forgotten more jokes than I can remember now at 61! I love the silly one-liners like: “What do you call a Woolworths Supermarket that’s burnt down?”. . . . “Coles” (coals – get it)!
What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Cafe: There are so many on the Coast that do a terrific job. It depends where I am on the day. The last cafe I visited was Paddock Bakery at Burleigh and they always use wonderfully fresh ingredients in their creations. A favourite for a late breakfast.
Coffee spot: Anywhere that proudly brandishes a Merlo coffee sign! Usually, I grab a coffee at Merlo Brickworks when I pick up a bag of their ‘private’ blend coffee beans! – I live for coffee!
Restaurant: Indian Empire at Runaway Bay has been a firm favourite for many years and has won numerous awards. Delicious Indian food! Brooklyn Depot in Surfers is also a great stop for a quick lunch. My physio just told me to check out Brazilian Flame Bar and Grill in Surfers Paradise so that will be next on the list to try.
Bar or pub for a drink: Anywhere that serves Los Sundays Tequila!
How do you choose to spend your weekends?
I have become a keen baker and love making sourdough loaves and chewy New York-style bagels. Also, I like long walks with Angie around the Paradise Point waterfront and maybe into one of the cafes there for something yummy!
Warren Young is the epitome of the Gold Coast. For over 40 years he’s been patrolling our local beaches and was recently honoured with the Gold Coast Tourism Life Member Award.
We sat down to chat with the local legend on his undying love of the Coast and why passion will take you places you never thought possible.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I visited the first couple of times in 1958 but came down to live in 1973. I was a Brisbane boy, working in Telecomm with a good job but I loved the surf and was Captain of the surf club and I didn’t want to stay in the city. At the time a job came up for a beach patrol person and I got it.
What do you love most about the Coast?
I think it’s got a really special feel about it and I love the people here. All the beaches have something special about them from The Spit down to Coolangatta and I like that we’ve got the beautiful hinterland too. There’s not many places in the world where you can have both. There are so many opportunities here, I’ve been here so long that I’ve grown with the place and I’ve really enjoyed watching every stage. People bash the Gold Coast but this strip of ocean is just so special and we forget how lucky we are.
You were recently named as a Gold Coast Tourism Honorary Life Member, what does it mean to you to have patrolled our beaches for so long?
I’m really so lucky to have done this for so long. I started when I was 23 and moved up through the ranks. I thought being a lifeguard was such a worthwhile thing and still do of course. I got the lifeguard towers put up with the support of the council so that was pretty special. It’s lovely the way it’s turned out, we’ve come a long way. Mum really instilled a lot of confidence in us and told us we could do anything so that really helped us boys. It’s been a lovely life, I can’t imagine not being here.
What’s your favourite part about the job?
For me, it’s working with such great people and it’s really all about helping. There’s a lot of self-satisfaction in it for me but the people I work with are so supportive of each other, there’s such a good community. It can be a real challenge working with the ocean because it’s always changing, there’s always a mystery involved and I love that. I love listening to the stories of people I meet on the beach. People from all over the world come here and I just love hearing about their lives and how different they are to what we experience here.
What have been some highlights throughout your career?
Getting the Public Service Medal in 1999 was pretty special. I’m also part of the baton crew for the Commonwealth Games so I’m excited about that. There have been so many amazing things that have happened, it really has been a wonderful time. I’ve been really blessed. My Dad passed away when I was nine but he would have been proud I think. When you start off doing something you’re passionate about, it’s amazing where it leads you. Of course, in life there’s always hills and valleys but I’ve loved every minute of it and I’ve been so lucky to bring my family up on the beach.
What’s been the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
I think it’s to treat people well, respect them, you never know what people have been through.
Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourites on the Coast…
Beach: Miami, I love it. I’ve got a soft spot for Burleigh but Miami is my home beach.
Café: I really like Piccolo, just near my house, really nice coffee.
Restaurant: Allure down at Currumbin.
Weekends: I usually do some training in the mornings and then spend some time with my Grandson, rolling around on the floor being silly.
He’s known the world over for his stunning surf and nature photography and we Gold Coasters are lucky enough to claim him as our own.
We sat down for a chat with Sean about his recent run in with an Iceland snow storm and why he thinks our beaches are some of the most beautiful he’s ever seen (and he’s seen them all).
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I was born in Cairns and moved here when I was six and I’m 42 now, so 36 years, definitely a local.
You’ve travelled all over the world, what’s so unique about the Coast to you?
I’ve always loved the beaches, love to surf, love the southern end of the Coast, Burleigh and the community feeling here. It’s a little town within a city. You can still get away, go 30 minutes south and still have beaches to yourself and out into the rainforest. There’s a bit of everything here, it’s not too quiet, not too busy.
Is there a place here that never fails to produce a beautiful shot for you?
Burleigh cove is one place I always go, usually at sunrise. When I come home, I love getting down there because it just makes me feel back at home. I do a lot of stuff in the water at home, with the right conditions, getting out at Kirra and Snapper; you can always get beautiful clear water, It’s some of the clearest water in the world out there. You go to the Maldives and Tahiti but if you go to Kirra on those nice clear days, it’s as good as it gets anywhere. Those places never seem to fail to produce.
How often do you spend at home vs. away?
I never used to go away as much but I’ve been getting heaps of work for social media stuff, so the last two or three years I’ve spent maybe half the time away, which is a bit harder with the family. They usually fly in and meet me for school holidays and what not.
How did your photography career come about?
I worked on the Gold Coast for 11 years as an electrician for Energex and I used to take photos then and sell my work at the local markets. I did that while I worked full-time and opened my first little gallery in the arcade in Burleigh while I worked. I had a little one in Surfers Paradise too. Eventually the galleries and markets took off enough that I stepped out of my full-time job and stepped into photography. I made an easy progression and was able to continue making a living out of it.
Where do you find inspiration?
That’s the one thing I struggle with nowadays. Back when I first started, there was no Instagram or Facebook, I used the web a little bit and I didn’t buy a lot of magazines, so I didn’t really see much. You just went out with fresh eyes and saw things, now you’ve got the world’s best photographer sitting in your hand putting photos up every 30 minutes. Trying to filter that out and not copy stuff but keep original is something that still tricks me in my mind. I still love nothing more than when I’m finding new locations, even though it won’t be a location that no one’s ever seen before, to me it’s new. That’s when I seem to turn on my creativeness and photograph things the way I want to see them. When I was in Iceland, I would come across scenes that I’d seen from famous photographers and wish I hadn’t seen the photos but normally I move through it and find things I haven’t seen before.
Do you have a personal favourite shot of the thousands you’ve taken?
I change all the time. The popular ones aren’t always my favourites; I love the abstract ones more and the artistic style of shot. There’s one of the Golden Girl at Noosa surfing on a wave I’ve always liked.
How do you feel when you know you’ve absolutely nailed the shot?
With digital now it’s easy because you look at the back of the camera and have a bit of an idea but it still does trick you. Sometimes you think you’re nailing it and you get back and you’re disappointed and sometimes it’s the opposite way. When things really turn on and everything comes together, like if you’re chasing surf and ocean photos you’ve got to have the storm brew so a huge swell comes, the waters got to be clear, the winds got to be the right way, you’ve got to be in the right spot, when all that happens at once you get a bit of a feeling and that’s when I’m usually excited to race back and quickly look at them. If I don’t come back and look at them straight away, it’s usually a sign it wasn’t that special.
Your most memorable trips or somewhere you always love to visit?
I’ve been doing lots of Western Australia lately, which I’ve been loving. Iceland was pretty up there, I did Iceland, Greenland and Norway in the one trip. That was pretty wild with huge storms and icebergs. I was on my own driving through the snowstorms and almost getting blown off the road trying to take photos. It was epic though.
Any close encounters with Mother Nature in your time?
At one stage in Iceland I was standing on top of a cliff and the wind was blowing that hard it was sliding me along the ice so I had to scramble back to the car and leave. Obviously there’s quite often animals in the water, big shapes swim past and things like that. Big surf is always a bit tricky when the waves come and break right on your head and knock you around.
What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?
It’s a tricky one. If you’re doing it because you love it, it’s easy. It’s hard to just decide you want to be a photographer and that’s all you want to be. I started by being an electrician and kept this on the side so I had income coming in that I could put towards better gear. Don’t just do it for the likes and the follows, do it because you love it and the rest will come. There are a lot of people who try to do it for fame but if you love it, it will work naturally. Taking photos-wise, my biggest tip is to be in the right place at the right time, you’ve always got to be out looking. You start to get in tune with it but you’ve always got to be out. You’re not going to get a great sunrise at Burleigh if you’re sleeping in six days of the week. If you get a few bad ones, you know a good one is coming and when everything comes together that’s when you get that feeling that keeps you going and searching for the next one.
Anything exciting in the works for the rest of the year?
I’ve got the Maldives, which is a surf comp I’ve shot for the last seven years, in two weeks. I’ve got a trip to Switzerland, hiking through mountains up the top and then I’ve got a trip to Canada where I’ll be shooting the polar bears. Then I’ve got a festival at Moreton Island with Canon that I’m doing at the end of the year. Hopefully a lot of locals will come there and do a lesson.
Best piece of life advice?
There’s a few I always try to run by. One is always expect the behaviour you tolerate, if you tolerate people not treating you well, expect to be treated like that. Keep an open mind and get out there and stay positive and things seem to flow.
Being a Gold Coast local we have to ask your favourites…
Café: I like Canteen and Nook at Burleigh for a coffee
Restaurant: I love Etsu
Weekend hang: Probably the beaches from Burleigh to Coolangatta
Tony Cochrane is the event powerhouse consistently fighting for our beloved Gold Coast Suns from the boardroom to the media. As Chairman of the Gold Coast Suns Board since 2016, Tony continues to bring his wealth of experience in sporting events, concerts, live shows and theatre, one-off major events and whole touring spectaculars over the past 40 years. His colourful character and unrelenting support of the Gold Coast Suns has certainly earned him a well-deserved spot as a champion of the Gold Coast. Here, Tony has answered a few questions about the high and lows, what’s in store and how best to support our team, the Gold Coast Suns.
In what is going to be an unusual year for the entire AFL, what do you think is going to be the biggest challenge for the Gold Coast Suns?
Thank goodness the 2020 season is back but, yes, it will throw up some major challenges, as it is across the board for all sectors. The biggest challenge is not being able to have our wonderful members, corporate partners and fans watching the games live at Metricon Stadium. With no crowds, obviously this creates financial issues but it also removes so much of what is fun about footy. We will miss having people at the games and hope this can change soon.
How can Gold Coasters support the Gold Coast Suns without attending the games at the moment?
We know times are tough – very tough – but we really need our fantastic members and corporate partners to stick with us this season and beyond if they can. We would also love to see those fans that can afford to sign up as a member, to please do so (check out the options here). It’s just so important that we stick tight as a club and get through this together, Clubs are the people, we need each other.
How are the Suns leveraging off the AFL Hub with supporters from interstate?
The Suns lobbied to get those interstate clubs to be based on the Gold Coast because we wanted to help get the 2020 season underway and we knew how good it would be economically for the city and as a tourism promotion. We see this as being a massive opportunity to promote our beautiful part of the world to the rest of the country with seven games being played at Metricon Stadium in four weeks. I am sure the visiting players will love it here too and will help showing us off as a tourist destination to the rest of the country.
Do you think the Gold Coast Suns games create opportunity for tourism to the Gold Coast?
Absolutely. It would cost a fortune to buy the positive media and online coverage that the Gold Coast will receive by hosting four visiting interstate teams and playing seven games in four weeks at Metricon Stadium. It’s a great thing for the Gold Coast. When the announcement was made, it was in the southern States, either the first or second major news bulletin that night with great shots of the resorts and our beaches etc.
What do you think needs to change to get more Gold Coasters on board with the Suns?
Two things need to happen to keep growing our fan base.
One, we need to keep building our relationship with this fantastic city through our extensive community work. I think people now know how much the Suns love the Gold Coast and that we are here to stay.
Two, we need to win more games and have success because Gold Coasters love a winner.
In a predominantly NRL state, do you feel like the Gold Coast Suns have won over Gold Coasters in switching codes?
Yes, without a doubt .. but there is more to be done. The growth in AFL participation in Queensland has been enormous – up 50% in the past five years. Queensland now has the second most women playing of any state or territory and the schools programs are growing fast. The Suns fielded a team in the AFLW this year for the first time and we made finals – I believe having an AFLW team will inspire more interest and growth in our code. The AFL’s investment is working and that investment is here for the long haul.
You’re now into your 5th year at the Gold Coast Suns as Chairman, what have been some of the highs and lows for you at the Club to date?
It has been an enormous challenge to build the Club and I love a challenge! The massive infrastructure we have created working in partnership with all levels of Government at Metricon Stadium is terrific for our great indigenous game. That has absolutely been a highlight. I hate losing – so that is clearly the opposite end of the scale!
In your opinion, what do you think is the single most important thing the Gold Coast Suns has done well since it’s inception?
We have done literally thousands of hours of community work – our players and staff spent more than 6,000 hours in our community in 2019 alone. Community is one of our key values. We have also helped deliver a world-class sports precinct for the Gold Coast.
Let us in on a secret, what future plans can you reveal are in place for the Gold Coast Suns and their supporters?
Off the field, we are working on plans for a childcare centre at our sports precinct and want to keep bringing big concerts like Queen to the Gold Coast.
On field, we have some exciting young men ready to debut this season that our fans will grow to love.
What’s the best community initiative for the Club to date that you’re proud of?
I am really proud of the work we have done to tackle homelessness on the Gold Coast including hosting Homeless Connect at Metricon Stadium and the work Peter Wright and Touk Miller do to support and mentor homeless and vulnerable youth.
What do you think has been the biggest roadblock to get Gold Coasters to games and what do you think will increase attendance at Metricon Stadium games when they return?
If you win games, people will come. We have placed a big focus on keeping AFL players here over the past two years so that we can build a finals levels team. The players have signed up and we now have a strong, united and exciting group to take us to success over the next 3-4 years!