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A truly golden time on the Gold Coast
Member Name: logberg
Date: 05/09/05, updated on 05/09/05 (378 review reads)
Advantages: Warm, heaps to do, family mecca
Disadvantages: Can be crowded, a bit too touristy at times
One morning I looked out the window of our 22-storey apartment to see massive whales frolicking along in the Pacific Ocean, water plumes bursting into the air - I didn't even need binoculars to see such an impressive but unexpected sight.
Australia's ''Sunshine State'', on the eastern side of this huge country, takes in the area from below Brisbane, down to Tweed Heads in the south.
At the heart is Surfers Paradise - 80 kilometres from Brisbane and about an hours drive from Brisbane's international airport. There's also another international airport at Coolangatta and while that is closer to Surfers Paradise it doesn't accommodate many international flights.
So, you want to know more about the Gold Coast? I suggest you get yourself a nice cuppa of your favourite beverage and prepare to embark, with me, on a journey which is going to take us a little while.
I love Surfers Paradise, and the Gold Coast where I have visited twice with my family, so we've done the theme parks, nature reserves and a bit of fishing. Also, high on the list is fine dining, wineing(spg??) and generally relaxing as well as shopping, shopping, shopping. There is so much to do and I have to admit there are so many attractions I haven't tried yet.
Those I have tried include Dreamworld, Movieworld, Seaworld, Currumbin Wildlife Santuary and Fleays Wildlife Reserve and I'll just include a little about each one here.
(North of Surfers Paradise)
The home of screaming mad rides; The Claw, Tower of Terror, Giant Drop and Wipe out - get the picture; all spine chilling and for me they had always been a no-go zone. UNTIL my last visit to Dreamworld. Prompted by my 6-year old grand-daughter mastering some of the scary rides I succumbed.
Did the Tower of Terror, much to the family's surprise. Got in the back of the carriage, strapped in, now it really is the point of no return. It goes along horizontally for a few seconds before launching off at the speed of Discovery heading to the heavens, up a pole; we hang there for a life-time, only to plunge backwards to earth, and head for the stop-off point. I get out and do a Pope-like thanksgiving, I kiss the ground making an absolute resolution to NEVER DO THAT AGAIN! And, I will not!
Loved the Tiger Island experience; it's educational and conservation based and during the day talks and demonstrations inform visitors about the life of the white and gold Bengal tigers. They are in captivity but the 'tricks' they do are designed to show how they exist in the wild and why the need for conservation is so great.
After the demonstration one of the younger tigers is brought out to walk among the visitors and you can pat them, we did, briefly but the keeper doesn't hang around for you to do more than a quick touch.
Just this week (early September) I saw a picture of Taj, Dreamworld's white tiger, who has found fame as the next Picasso He's launched his own painting style and has a new 'arty' following!
We took our little grandaughter when she was 3 years old and on the morning of her 6th birthday we were on our way to Dreamworld and she reminded me she'd seen the tigers before.''You remember Nanna, the white one `threw up' on the tree!'' Now that was a travel memory I didn't need to remember but I was surprised she had stored it all those years!
Hope that didn't put you off and that you are still with me because there is more to tell yet and I think you'll appreciate some of the other neat things that Dreamworld and the Gold Coast has to offer.
There's heaps of 'death defying' rides, entertainment and educational shows, u-drive vintage cars, train trips around the park. You can even have a children's birthday party; we did for our aforementioned daughter and grandaughter's birthday for which some of the parks ''characters'' joined her to present her with a cake and to help blow out the candles.
(Dreamworld contact: www.reflections.com.au/GoldCoast)
Packed full of Hollywood glamour, and Movie Magic, this park is great for all the family as there are many different themes running here.
I particularly like the Police Academy Stunt show because it's full of action, goodies get the baddies and authentic noise, flames and fury extend throughout the open-air performance in the purpose-built, cops and robbers ampitheatre.
Our kids love the Tweety bird merry-go-round, Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster, the drive yourself little tiny cars, as well as the rides in the childrens area. Looney Toons Adventure is well worth a try, suits all the family.
There is a big street parade where all the movie characters are driven in all sorts of vehicles through the Main Street of town. Batman of course is a crowd pleaser in his Batmobile.
The Wild West Falls Adventure is a hoot: it gives you a false sense of security actually, you sit in a log and do a demure water ride among Western style townships. Then all of a sudden you come out of a ranch-style door and plunge metres down a waterfall and get WET. Sopping wet! Of course as you come out of the hillside there is a camera set to capture your gasps and my photo is Less Than Memorable, I assure you.
You can take a picnic or eat at the many cafe/bars or restaurants throughout the park. There are good facilities for families in that even baby rooms are available.
CURRUMBIN WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
(South of Surfers Paradise)
Set in 27 hectares of landscaped and native, Australian bush you'll find 1400 critters and creatures who call Currumbin Wildlife sanctuary home.
All day there are extremely good talks and demonstrations about the animals: reptiles, mammals and birds. We saw the birdlife one and it was extremely interesting; memorable for the inter-active aspects and I think this helps you remember the information so well.
Also, it was here that I had a close encounter of the bird-kind with a parakeet. It was afternoon tea feeding time and the keeper appeared in the middle of a cleared area in the bush. Hundreds of birds took a ''as the crow-flies'' route to the goodies he was offering but one took a 'low-flying' route through my hair... what a fright I got, ended up with a mid-part in my beautiful golden locks!
Also, we went under this archway and I was expounding how beautiful the flora and fauna was. When we got out of it my friend said, ''I've just been reading in this pamphlet that this archway is home to some of the largest spiders in Australia!'' Now this was news of Titanic proportions for me. I HATE Spiders and am REALLY, REALLY scared of them. I tell you the rest of my visit I was on edge, looking and peering into the pathway where-ever I went.
Some of the interactive attractions different members of my family went to include: Waterbird, Pelican feeding, dingo talk and kangaroo (Australia's favourite animal) feeding.
Currumbin Wildlife Santuary is huge, you won't be able to see it all in a day but you really should include it on your Gold Coast Holiday.
(Near Surfers Paradise, just along the beach)
There is also an aim of getting up close and personal with the marine life here: Dolpin Cove and Shark Bay are the places to be to learn and be entertained by these fish, large and small.
We particularly like the Water skiing display and on one visit our son was picked to do the ''audience participation'' which in his case was to join the judging panel - he loved it and we were proud of him as he assisted to find that day's water-ski winner.
Kids will love the Cartoon Network Beach and I quite liked the more demure rides here as they didn't turn my hair grey.
There are many shows, videos and attractions for all the family. The self-fly aeroplane ride and the MAC drive-yourself trucks have entertained our kids and grandkids over the years.
If you do want to go to several theme parks, in and around Surfers Paradise, ask about the Multi-Park passes when you book with your travel agent or when you go to the first park.
FLEAYS CONSERVATION RESERVE
(South of Surfers Paradise)
This is a slower pace, an attraction we only heard about on our last couple of days and went for a look, just for something to do. We should have had it higher on our holiday activities list because it is an interesting day out, no adrenalin rides here, just the slow pace of life, as set by the animals.
You can go on a guided tour or take in the Aboriginal Cultural talks but we just meandered around the natural bush and lakeside.
We walked across a bridge and saw two massive crocodiles basking in the sun beside the water. We saw a sign which explained they don't eat much in the winter so are a bit lethargic. We were saying how they were so still they looked like they were made of concrete. SNAP! well we just about jumped out of our skins. The bigger one had made the quickest ''speed of light'' snap of his jaws, we got such a fright and decided that 'up close and personal' was not on the agenda for this water giant.
Then, if you go to this natural conservation/educational reserve you must walk up to the top area and seek out the Cassowary - it looks like a turkey with long legs and a few more dangly things. What a queer looking bird this is. And, it followed us around so as you can imagine he features strongly in my photo albums.
All animals really do live in a natural environment here, some are rare and endangered species, some are nocturnal so you are lucky to see them.
We took our grandaughter and in the ampitheatre we attended a talk about snakes and other outback creatures. She ever so cleverly allowed one to entwine itself around her arm, I was busy taking the photo so didn't have to endure such a 'pleasure'. Well not that day, but the next day in another part of Australia, she dared and goaded me to hold a snake. I did. It was gi-normous. Don't you just love grandies and the dimension they bring to your life?!!!
The Gold Coast is action packed: pity this would be too long to share it all with you so will be brief and mention just a few things you can do.
Daytime: Wet n Wild fun park, fishing trips, Tiger Moth and balloon flights, Harley Davidson bike tours, wine tours, shopping at huge malls like at Robina, Pacific Way and Australia Fair, swimming sunbathing and eating or enjoying a drink or two with friends.
The Friday night market is set up along the waterfront and is well worth a look, as is Ripley's Believe it or Not. You can believe you will have a full and busy stay on the Gold Coast, centred around Surfers Paradise especially when you look for something to do at night.
A nighttime MUST, is Draculas night club where you have dinner and a spooky show or there's always Conrad Jupiters Casino to try your luck, or fund the rest of the holiday if you're running low on funds.
I found there is a lot of fresh, seafood on offer for you to prepare yourself or to choose at some of the many restaurants and cafes.
We shopped at a supermarket so we were able to buy the best in really fresh king prawns, oysters, mussels and match them with some pretty smart Australian wines.
Whatever you do, prepare to enjoy some of the 245 days of fine weather a year, with average temperatures around 22 deg in the sun, surf and sand.
Petrol heads might like to book a visit during October's Indy car Races; they will join thousands of others who line the main roads of Surfers Paradise township for several days of exciting racing around the streets.
Some think Surfers Paradise is a bit touristy - but you can stay anywhere along the coast and do visits into the hinterland, out to sea or just lie around the swimming pool. It really is up to you.
Accommodation options are vast: Apartments, international standard hotels, resorts, self-catering, motels, Band B, condominiums, units, backpackers, hostels and camping grounds. It does pay to book before you go as this is a busy area, most of the year round.
Getting to Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Australia.
International visitors fly into Brisbane International airport and can either hire a car or take a bus to anywhere along the long, narrow coast line.
New Zealanders have the option of flying into Coolangatta airport and then a shorter drive to `Surfers' as it's affectionately known. Both airports are serviced by regional airlines so you can easily arrive from or get away to other parts of this diverse continent, that is Australia.
Australia's Gold Coast is truly the place to be if you like the idea of a warm, friendly, interesting, active or relaxing holiday.
Hope you have stuck with me on this one... it's long but I assure you it could have been much longer if I let it....
The Gold Coast - a golden travel destination.
Summary: Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise, dream location, sun, surf and sand