Visited during the trip: Gold Coast – Surfers’ Paradise, Sky Point, DreamWorld, SeaWorld, Whitewater World, Wet n Wild, MovieWorld, Currumbin Beach, Coolangatta Beach, Miami Beach, Harbour Town, Pacific Fair, Marina Mirage, Labrador; Brisbane; Tweed Heads, Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, and Newcastle in New South Wales.
This was the longest, expensive adventure we ever had but definitely was the most enjoyable and unforgettable one with mixed dramas during the planning stage, driving while going and heading back home to Sydney, some of them are mentioned below.
Right after our adventure to the Snowy Mountains Winter of 2015, the idea to have a summer holiday in Gold Coast, Queensland was conceived and then two months later it was cemented through bookings of places to stay, what to visit and the duration with four confirming to go out of six families.
Three days before our holiday, Sydney was pounded with rain and showers with no sign of abating even to that day we’re about to go on our adventure and the fact that it was summer and the first month of 2016.
The Long Distance Trip
At forty minutes passed eight in the morning of 07 Jan 2016 we started our 7 day adventures to the Gold Coast, drove up to the north, our target was Newcastle in New South Wales, our first stop over which is more than two hours drive from Sydney.
It was a long driving with a total distance of more than ten hours so we decided that every 2 hours we have to rest for about twenty minutes at most. We had our early lunch in Newcastle, weather was still cloudy, drizzling, windy and cold. The place is awesome with a beautiful views overlooking the harbour, this was our first time to reach this part of the city although we have been to other wharf areas before.
It would be a deadly mistake for me not to take photos of this stunning Lee Wharf, their beautiful museum not far from it, and their array of awesome restaurants built along the wharf front.
After lunch we moved on to our next stop which was Port Macquarie, another city which is more than four hours drive from Sydney, weather was still cloudy and drizzling, not good indeed for travelers on the road.
Weather improved a bit when we reached Port Macquarie. We’ve been here before too, had camped at the Melaleuca Caravan Park and toured around nearby places with significant attractions to visitors like the Doorogan National Park, Bago Winery and Vineyard, Timbertown and many more.
This time we were at the Port Central and Shopping Centre, likewise we visited the St Agnes Catholic Church, a church with back entrance delicately landscaped. Of course we did take some photos here for souvenir of the place as well as at the port.
We left Port Macquarie after spending sometime there and head on this time to Coffs Harbour.
The Big Banana in Coffs Harbour is a very popular place where visitors do take their stopovers, and we had our turn to do the same too at that day, but it was already late in the afternoon when we arrived and because of that all food stores and theme parks were already closed.
We’re left with only one choice that was to have our dinner at a shed in the car park there. The sun just set from the horizon, so after dinner, we drove up to Byron Bay in New South Wales. The trip took us almost three hours. At the city centre we tried to look for a place to stay for the night, people still strolling down many streets because it was late night shopping.
We noticed that as we drove deeper to the city centre, heaps of drunken male and female teenagers roamed around every streets we passed by. Our group decided to drive further up to the Lighthouse area hoping that we can find a place to stay but it was too dark and too windy, very precarious indeed! We then tried to drive down to some nearby beaches but to no avail, overnight stay there are totally prohibited.
It was already passed one in the morning when we were able to find a car park with some street lights on. We parked here.
Some friends decided to sleep inside their cars for about a couple of hours including me. An hour passed when some of our companions noticed a police car patrolling the place and so we eventually left, continued driving up north hoping again to find another place to stay for a while.
We found one, parked in front of it, and you know where it was? It was in front of a MacDonald’s fast food in West Ballina, New South Wales! Some members of the group slept inside their cars, while some laid down their portable small tents including me on the spacious grass land beside the car park and slept again until passed six in the morning when travellers started to arrive for breakfast.
We had our breakfast in that fast food outlet, too. Yes, I will never forget this trip or adventure, that experience of driving late night until dawn, deprived of sleep and rest! We took off from here and continued our trip to the Gold Coast.
Gold Coast – First Day
We arrived at the Dreamworld Theme Park early at around seven in the morning.
We were the first group of cars that parked there and security men noticed us, informed us of the opening time which was two hours more to go. While we were waiting for the opening time, we took pictures of the front gate and surrounding buildings of the Theme Park.
The Park is huge and it is Australia’s largest theme park with over 40 rides and attractions, including five roller coasters. These are the reasons people are attracted to or perhaps reasons for them to go back many times to enjoy the rides and other facilities.
The rides are indeed awesome and thrill seekers love it! I am pretty sure that this is the case everyday here, full of fun and enjoyment for the whole family!
Our group enjoyed our whole day stay here especially the children.
At around passed five in the afternoon when we had enough of it and we drove off to where we were booked for our one week stay at the Gold Coast.
I love the apartment where we stayed; it has security, it has swimming pool, overtowering palm trees and fronting a seashore. We were at the Labrador area in Gold Coast. The seashore has a cemented pathway for walking, jogging and cycleways overlooking the sea. Several small boats were moored here, and further north are restaurants of seafoods and Chinese cuisine and many more. Also, several high rise buildings for holiday makers dotted the foreshore.
If not for some barrier islands blocking the horizon, we can see straight the Pacific Ocean from the marine parade road.
I took pictures of the calm water, the beautiful landscape of the place during that afternoon when we arrived at the place. It’s an amazing place to be, indeed!
We had our dinner in one of the apartments occupied by one of our family friend here while our children enjoyed the cool water of the swimming pool below.
Gold Coast – Second Day
The following morning, my wife and I had our early morning walk around the park fronting the seashore with the intention to capture the sunrise. It wasn’t satisfying to have the sunrise photographed at that time at its best because of a thick cloud covering as it rises from the horizon.
There were heaps of runners and walkers that day and perhaps they’ve been into this fitness style everyday here, but mind you they’re very friendly!
We continued our walk as the sun rises and tried to explore more what the place can offer for travellers like us.
After our breakfast, we drove to the Whitewater World, a water park just next door to the DreamWorld Theme Park.
Here, we had another day of fun and enjoyment, many rides and cooling off water facilities inside the park. I can imagine the magnitude of people coming to this holiday leisure park every summer time, very interesting to know some statistics here!
This time we had our dinner at the place where two family friends were booked at, a residential holiday house good for two families.
Gold Coast – Third Day
My wife and I had another day of early morning walk at the seafront this time with another friend. We tried to explore more the place while watching the daybreak, joining some other guys walking and jogging around.
Shortly after breakfast, we drove to the world’s tallest residential tower called Sky Point with 322.5 metres height, 526 apartments and 11 lifts.
It was my first time to experience whisked up inside the elevator at about one second per floor, our destination was the 77th floor. It was in this floor where viewing deck for the aerial view of surrounding places is available to the public.
It was indeed a beautiful view above there, stunning as you go around the deck with thick walled glass, viewing the horizon as far as the eyes can see, and below the tower. We spent about more than an hour here viewing the awesome areal views!
Next, we went to the SeaWorld Theme Park, another theme park very popular to holiday makers.
As soon as we’re admitted inside we straightaway walk on to where the Sea Lion Show was, as it was about to start in a quarter of minutes. The grandstand was quickly filled in with spectators.
The show was spectacular! Sea Lions were very loyal and obedient to the commands of their trainers. They know very well what they ought to show for entertainment, very impressive performance!
The show lasted about forty minutes leaving the audiences with great awe and love for the sea lions.
After that show, we moved up to another show which was the Dolphin Show. Again, majority of the spectators came from the Sea Lion Show thus making the grandstand quickly filled up again.
Five minutes before the show, I saw three female handlers feeding the dolphins not far away from the show stand. A few minutes later as I was adjusting the settings of my camera, I realized three dolphins were swimming fast towards us, then walloping up high with great strength and dive fast down the water infront of us. That was the start of the show!
There were more series of spectacular performances the dolphins expertly showed to us with of course the controls and commands of their female handlers. So good to watch them swim fast, dive fast, female handlers rode on them while swimming, tossing them up, and many more.
This is another show that I recommend to watch especially to the children.
There are heaps of attractions inside the SeaWorld theme park. Aside from the sea lion and dolphin coves, there was huge fish ponds where sting rays were swimming, some huge some small.
Another cove I found was for learners in snorkelling, scuba diving, I saw a small boat provided with a bottom glass wherein riders can see the fishes down the water. It is in this place too, where you can go down to an Aquarium built below this cove.
After setting foot in this awesome SeaWorld, we got our dinner at the Miami Beach Caravan Park where another member of the group was booked at for the week’s stay.
Gold Coast – Fourth Day
We drove early to the MovieWorld due to a long queue that we might encounter at the entrance. On arrival there, our suspicion was true, a long queue was already on progress under the heat of the morning sun.
We were allowed to enter the main gate, but still we’re told to wait for the opening of every event until ten in the morning.
The theme park is unique because of the huge buildings built around were of an old American style of architecture. You will be impressed at how they duplicate and depict the wold of cinema in the United States during the olden days.
Then suddenly I saw Batman riding on his favourite bat mobile as he was wheeled down the main street of the park perhaps doing some practice run for the afternoon parade.
Yes, there was a parade of the stars in the afternoon at the main street. People were ecstatic to see them in their costumes. Batman was there, Catwoman, Green Lantern, The Joker, Marilyn Monroe, and many more.
Later in the afternoon, we sponsored a dinner for our friends in our apartment. We just bought some food from a fast food outlet because everybody seems already tired. The children got the run of playing at the pool down below.
At night we had the chance to roam around the Surfers Paradise. As new guys in town, we were unaware of what to see, we only knew that this place is the fovourite place for Schoolies from different states to celebrate after graduating in high school, big nights of celebration here every year!
Gold Coast – Fifth Day
The next venue of entertainment for us was the Wet n Wild Water Park.
The environment is tropical, heaps of palm trees and other varieties of plants can be seen all over the park. Compared to the Wet n Wild in Sydney just built there, the theme park in Gold Coast has less area of coverage.
It was our children who did enjoy the park more than us, of course the theme parks we’ve been were actually for them to enjoy while they’re on their school holidays.
We finished early there at the Wet n Wild, since we had enough time to visit another place, we decided to go to the Harbour Town which is not far from where we’re staying.
Harbour Town on the Gold Coast is Australia’s largest outlet shopping centre with over 220 stores comprising brand direct outlet and clearance stores offering a minimum of 30 per cent off the original retail price on outlet stock, as well as specialty retailers, alfresco dining, entertainment and services.
With international labels such as Coach, Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss and Nike as well as iconic Australian brands including Oroton, R.M. Williams and Ugg, Harbour Town has something to suit everyone’s style.
We were just curious as others to see this huge shopping centre.
Gold Coast – Sixth Day
So far, we had more than enough of the theme parks and we decided to have a trip outside Gold Coast into the City of Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland.
We drove early, at around half passed seven in the morning, aware of the traffic that might hamper us to arrive at our destination early.
Indeed it was, we encountered medium to heavy traffic as we approached the city. Brisbane has a different style of handling road signs, signals and traffic compared to those in New South Wales and thus we did have a hard time adjusting to it. Consequently, we had a hard time looking for our way of entry to where we intended to go. We passed by our first turn but we managed to get through the second time. Other members of our group got lost too, and got parked away from where we should be.
We were at the south bank of Brisbane where parks and gardens, swimming pools, arts and entertainment centre, science and maritime museums and many more are located. We managed to visit the Queensland Museum and Science Centre from where we spent more than hour viewing great science subjects.
It’s an awesome place to be for a holiday! Huge and tall buildings can be seen just from the south bank alone. Ferries come and go at the Brisbane River. There are heaps of things to visit here but because it was quite hot during the day, we didn’t drive in to the inner city.
Later in the afternoon after our Brisbane adventure, we had the chance to visit another shopping centre in Gold Coast called the Pacific Fair which is a major shopping centre in Broadbeach Waters on the Gold Coast. It was Queensland’s largest regional shopping centre until 2006, and will regain that title in mid-2016 after the current redevelopment is complete.
Gold Coast – Seventh Day
We were on our final league of our journey and each family had their own call to visit. My family decided to visit the many beaches surrounding the Gold Coast. First we drove to The Spit beach where most fishermen go and enjoy a day while fishing.
We moved down to Currumbin Beach where some stunning rocks are exposed and became an attraction, a photographers’ paradise as they say.
Further down south, we visited the Coolangatta Beach, one of the many beautiful beaches where people love to spend the day swimming, cooling down and relaxing.
Not far from there was the boundary marker between Queensland and New South Wales. It was amazing for us to have known and visited this important demarcation between two states.
We continued exploring places and drove down to Tweed Heads, considered as fourth largest city in New South Wales lying close to the border with Queensland. After that, we went back to the SeaWorld and catch up with the Penguins which we haven’t seen when we were there.
We ended up the day at the Marina Mirage, one of the finest waterfront shopping and dining destination conveniently located just minutes from the Gold Coast Seaway with deep-water access on the beautiful Gold Coast Broadwater. It is here where we had our dinner.
We left Gold Coast with a sunny fine weather but as we were closing in to New South Wales we saw dark sky over the horizon. The other day, we saw on TV how a freak typhoon battered Sydney and smashed down many trees and houses there.
The day we departed Sydney for Gold Coast, Sydney weather was cloudy and raining in most places we passed by, now that we’re set for home we encountered the same wet weather again.
On our journey back home, we set the Lighthouse in Byron Bay as our first stop but we missed it. Then we did choose the Big Prawn in Ballina as the alternative stop but then there were new highways on the road that didn’t show up on our navigators, so all we had to do was to continue and set a target for another stopover. We had our late lunch after more than three hours on the road at the Grafton MacDonald’s area. We left Gold Coast a bit late thus we hit the road and freeway late night and arrived home around half passed one in the morning the following day.