Published: August 6th 2007May 16th 2007
Flying High in Surfer’s Paradise Decision Making as Team Turner - Which Way Do We Go Today?
On our trip thus far, Mike and I have traded off being the strategic idea person and, alternately, the nuts ‘n bolts administrative lackey making the tactical plans and reservations. For example, I came up with the wild and crazy idea of this trip around the world (or at least a good part of the world) but Mike really dug into the original planning of our first days in Spain and Portugal. Since then, for the most part, Mike has set up our travel itinerary in the most general terms and I have taken the lion’s share of making reservations, choosing hotels/motels and ensuring we have a place to sleep at night and a (hopefully) reputable way to get there.
This creates an interesting conundrum for my beloved when he sees something that we “could” do on our treks and he knows I’ll find it great fun but it has little to no appeal for him. “Do I tell her about it?’, he asks to himself. "If I don’t, odds are she’ll never find out about it and, if
she does, it’ll be past the feasible time for us to go there." Or, does he tell me, knowing I’ll be excited and want to do something that will take time and hold little interest for him at all? Decisions, decisions . . .
Our next destination, Surfer’s Paradise (about 1 hour south of Brisbane), was one of those dilemmas for Mike. Our real plan is to head north of Brisbane, not south, covering about 1800 km as we drive toward Cairns and beyond. Surfer’s Paradise and the Gold Coast area, however, are home to Australia’s only serious amusement parks and the land of rides. As he knows well (and you do too!), there are few things I have more fun at than a twirling round, stomach-in-your-throat sharp drop of a park ride. Being a great travel partner, he told me about the offerings in Surfer’s Paradise, I was (of course!) all for it and we made plans to delay our northward trek for a couple of days so I could ride the rides and we could see Surfer’s Paradise. Once again, Off We Set to Paradise!
Besides being the land o’ amusement parks, Surfer’s Paradise
and the Gold Coast are known as a premier vacation destination across Australia and are much loved by Aussie families going on holiday. We set off from Brisbane after a good breakfast looking forward to seeing the Gold Coast and seeing what all the hype was about. It was only a little over an hour drive so we were easily there before lunch and in the heat of the day.
The Gold Coast is a gorgeous strip of beach along the ocean flanked by high rise hotels, condominiums and residential development everywhere. For the Southern readers, it’s like Myrtle Beach, SC but with less trashy t-shirt shops and newer high rises, but no boardwalk. Just lots of gorgeous gold sand. For the Northern readers, if you’re anything like me, it’s a nightmare of what happens to great beachfront when zoning fails. It made me long for Cape Cod all over again and be really thankful that it isn’t one big condo complex. The condos are lovely in their own flashy way, but the only way to see the beach is from a hotel balcony - not my ideal set up for a beach.
We checked into our hotel
and left our bags with the front desk as the room wasn’t ready yet. So what did we do? Head to the beach, of course! We wandered out onto the sand, dug our piggies in nice and deep and started to walk. Once you’re actually on the beach, it’s beautiful. The beach is wide and very sandy, with little rockiness or litter on it. with the sun above, the ocean laid open in front of us and the sand beneath our toes, it wasn’t a bad way to kill time for the afternoon. So nice!
We stopped for lunch at a local surf rescue club, a club which supports the lifeguards who patrol the beach. Being a lifeguard in Australia is serious business and these clubs are devoted to raising money to ensure guards are present and equipped for any needs that come up. To make money, this one had a restaurant right on the beach and included lovely views over the water. Not bad for a quick lunch and you got a warm fuzzy feeling that you were doing something good too! The Australia Miniature Golf Invitational Tournament Tees Off
After we schlepped our bags
up to our new “home” and checked out our digs (nice, ocean view and all), it was off to the local miniature golf course. We lucked out in that it had 3 different 18-hole courses in one place - how better to kick off our Australia competition?!? Alas, it was better for Mikey than for me. Pride cometh before a fall, I guess . . .
We played three games on three different courses and, at the end, the score was Mikey 2 - Kel 0. What happened to Game #3, you ask? We tied, exactly to the stroke. The competition is that tight between us, craziness. To give us both some credit, we did have a bunch of strokes of putting brilliance along the way. In the three games, we collectively had 14 total hole-in-ones on different holes. Fourteen! The courses were tough and really creatively put together, but all the NZ practice has clearly paid off. Any takers for a friendly game when we return to the US? Better start practicing!
After our putt-putt mini-tournament, we headed back to the hotel to rest a bit before dinner. I had seen a Beni Hana Japanese Steakhouse earlier
when we drove in so I made the call that would be our dinner. Why? Why not. (Quick shout out here to Mike’s beach guys - you know Japanese steakhouse at the beach is a must do. It’s just good!)
We ended up sitting next to a really nice couple in town on business from Utah at dinner and chatted the whole evening with them. We really enjoy getting the chance to meet people and it’s always fun to share our stories with a new and appreciative audience - they were great fun! Hi Ho Hi Ho, It’s Off to DreamWorld We Go!
DreamWorld is the premier amusement park on the Gold Coast so we headed over there the next day for me to get my fill of rides and thrills. We really lucked out - since it’s late fall/winter here, the lines were short and the park wasn’t full at all. That made Mike have to wait less time for me and I didn’t have to sing too many rounds of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” standing in the lines by myself waiting for my turn.
While DW is the top amusement
park in the area (and all of Australia), it’s pretty small, smaller than your average Six Flags and nowhere near a Disney World or Busch Gardens. They had about 4 serious rides, some shows and food stands. With short lines, we were off on a speedy mission to ride the best and skip the rest.
They had a great spinning thrill ride (the Claw), a decent roller coaster and two great rides based on their giant free fall tower - at one point the highest free fall drop in the world at 118 metres (about 387 feet). I did them both and they were great! The first one, obviously, is a free fall where they take you up the full 387 feet and drop you from it along with 7 other people in a line of seats looking out over the park. The Giant Drop was great, but the worst/scariest part was that they leave you up at the top for a full 45 seconds before you drop (Mike timed it). Sitting up that high in a little seat with your feet swinging freely in the air is nothing short of disconcerting. I was happy to feel the seat
drop below me on the 46th second!
The second ride they made on the tower was a roller coaster of sorts. It starts all the way across the park, shoots over to the tower and straight up it, then falls back down to earth and shoots backward into the station as an ending. Not only does it go as high as the Giant Drop, but it shoots out of the station at breakneck speed, reaching 160 km/h in 3 seconds (0-100 mph in 3 seconds, wow!). I managed to finagle the front row so I got to see the land, then air/sky/sun hurtling at me and felt the drop back down the tower something fierce. If you’re ever in Surfer’s Paradise and like a good thrill ride, I’d recommend it wholeheartedly!
The only other thing we really checked out in the park was their area called Tiger Island, where they had three grown tigers and two baby ones in residence. The babies are just slightly bigger than a cuddly stuffed tiger and are still being fed by wildlife staff from baby bottles - we watched them being fed and it was soooo cute. It’s hard to remember they
have big teeth and can eat you when they’re cuddling size and nuzzling a bottle and a blankie. I seriously wanted to bring one home with me but Mikey (and the park staff and the US quarantine officers, I’m sure) said no. Bummer.
We ended up being done at the park in the early afternoon and just bummed around for the rest of the day. We grabbed some lunch, explored a local mall and just enjoyed reading on the balcony with some breathtaking ocean views in the background. Not bad at all.
Hope you’re all doing great and enjoying life! We think of you guys all the time! Editor's Note:
I did have some fun while Kel was waiting in line and riding rides. The park has a really cool simulated surf machine called the Flow Rider. Watching novices attempt this rushing water ride isn't all that fun as it is really difficult and they usually fall over very quickly. At one point there was a demonstration by park staff that was really cool. They say it is very different than surfing because you are basically standing on a board with only ten inches of water rushing
underneath you. Either way the staff was awesome and tons of fun to watch. While I don't ride the rides, I can still find things that keep me amused.
There are more photos below