Greetings from Australia’s Gold Coast!
After getting over the pain of leaving Byron Bay, it was only a short hour trip north (bar having to stop off to jump in the water at Burleigh Heads, as a drastic attempt to try and cool down in such heat!) to Surfers Paradise, with a week ahead catching up with a friend from Canada, and seeing what the Gold Coast has to offer.
It has to be said that Surfers’ wasn’t exactly highly recommended as a place to visit, but with people to see and plenty of activities to do, I was looking forward to seeing whether these rumours were true.
First on our agenda though – Australia day! Although I have celebrated this extensively before in Canada with some lovely Australian friends, this was my first one down under. The day should have been spent floating around on a bunch of inflatables with a cold beverage in hand from the floating eskie; but unfortunately the rain got the better of us, and we had to abandon ship, but not until we had BBQ’d of course! After the sun finally came out, we ventured in to see some of the city, which was certainly nicer than expected.
It has to be said that this is definitely an area for tourists, and not the cheapest for backpackers, with the theme parks and attractions having pretty hefty ticket prices. However! Connections are a wonderful thing, and I was lucky enough to go to Sea World, Wet and Wild and Dreamworld during my time on the Gold Coast.
Sea World will always hold some special memories – as I was lucky enough to experience their “Penguin Encounters”. This is something anyone can purchase for their visit, but my friend had a plus one, and I was extremely grateful she chose me. We were taken behind the scenes for a tour, and dressed up in full ski pants and ski jackets for the visit (much more fitting attire for the month of January in my experience!). A good 30 minutes were then spent playing with the penguins in their Sea World home – what an AMAZING experience. I mostly sat completely fascinated with a grin on my face like a child on Christmas day! I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone with a bit of extra money to spend! The only downside was the disappointing photos from the photographer that came in with us. Nonetheless! Those memories will certainly stay with me as very special ones.
Aside from this, there were of course lots of other animals to visit, string rays to touch (slightly terrifying, Steve Irwin is all I will say for that!) an impressive dolphin show, and some surprisingly good rides. A great day all around.
Wet and Wild is the large water park in the area, and also features prominently in the Inbetweeners 2 – prompting many giggles as we spotted the different filming locations. This place definitely has something for everyone – including some slightly terrifying slides with near vertical drops – wear suitable swimwear for a visit here!
Last but not least was Dreamworld – where we were fortunate enough to visit after the Australian school holidays, and completely avoid any lines. The Tower of Terror and Big Drop were highlights, but Dreamworld isn’t just about the rides. The Tiger breeding programme has seen two Tiger cubs born recently, who I could have sat and watched play all day long, and finally, it may not have been in the wild, but my first KOALA sighting! I decided to invest the money for a photo and have a cuddle with one – what an absolute treat – I struggled to give her back afterwards!
Overall – would I recommend paying the high entrance fees for these attractions? If it can be worked into the budget, then absolutely. Keep an eye out for promotional tickets, as similarly to England these can always be found with a bit of research. Alternatively, just pick which one appeals to you the most, as these were all very different places to visit.
There are of course other benefits of staying with locals, who absolutely spoiled us, and as well as taking us out for an afternoon to play on jet skis (what better way to tour the area!), took us up for a drive to the Springbrook National Park. On this late night visit we also stopped at an incredible waterfall, underneath which sits a cave illuminated by hundreds of glow worms. Not something that could be captured on photograph, but what an amazing experience, and another of those “Australia” moments that will certainly stay with me as a highlight of my time here.
Although I wouldn’t say Surfer’s Paradise is quite the “Paradise” you expect from Australia, its been a great week crammed full of activities and sunshine (mostly!), so its time to depart and head off for a new adventure in Melbourne. Back to the big city, back to work, and back to fuelling my brunch and coffee habits.
Wish me luck Hex…
With kindest regards,