Sun, sand and shops are the usual reasons people head to the sea. Gold Coast in the Australian state of Queensland offers all that and much, much more.
Queensland is the place to experience the laid-back beach lifestyle that makes Australia so special. There is plenty of sunshine, spectacular beaches, natural wonders and unique wildlife. I recently had the chance to visit Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, trek through the jungle and scale the heights of Mount Tamborine.
My adventure in Brisbane begins at Lone Pine. Officially recognised by Guinness World Records, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary with almost 90 years of experience and 130 koalas. There is plenty to do at the sanctuary besides cuddling up with koalas, from sheep dog shows to getting intimate with kangaroos, admiring reptiles, and strolling around the area along the Brisbane River for a slice of Australian Outback farm life. Of course the most popular animal encounter is still the irresistible koala hug.
I then continued my journey to the Gold Coast, around an hour’s drive, and headed to Paradise Jet Boating for a taste of real Australian outdoor fun.I was in for a 45-minute thrill ride aboard a jet boat, passing million-dollar yachts, the stylish Marina Mirage shopping complex and the upmarket Palazzo Versace, before zooming off for the open water, reaching speeds of up to 80 kilometres per hour.
Wet but exhilarated, I continued on to my hotel, on the golden sands of the Gold Coast, arriving just as the sun was beginning to set. And the best place to enjoy sunset is at Sky Point – the highest point above the Gold Coast, rising 230 metres. It is located on Levels 77 and 78 of the iconic Q1 Resort in southern Surfers Paradise.
Regarded as Australia’s favourite family theme park, Dreamworld covers 30 hectares and is filled with rides, shows and attractions. The park also has animal performances including a tiger show and farm life shows. Its most heart-pounding attractions especially the one and only Tower of Terror. The ride is the theme park’s signature attraction and the line snakes out the entrance. This is a high-speed ride that fires you down the track like a canon ball, and one spin was more than enough for me. There are plenty of other great rides, like the Giant Drop with a 38-storey free fall or The Claw, where you are propelled nine storeys high, swinging up to 64 kilometres per hour while spinning around 360 degrees. What an adrenaline rush!
We visited Mount Tamborine and one of the national parks in the area. Mount Tambourine Skywalk is one of the oldest national parks in the area. Walking tracks build around 10 metres above the ground cover much of the park, and give visitors a bird’s eye view of the indigenous butterflies and unique Australian vegetation.
Next stop was Gold Coast SeaWorld. It offers a host of exciting rides, shows and attractions for a full day of family fun and insight into the precious marine environment. At SeaWorld’s Shark Bay visitors come face-to-face with the world’s most feared predators at a multi-level exhibit that provides viewing both above and below water.
After experiencing the excitement of catching crabs in the Birds Bay area, I was heading to Moreton Island, one of the world’s biggest sand islands. It was originally an island to process whales, but is now home to the luxurious Tangalooma Island Resort. The resort offers guests of all ages unique adventures and experiences in a truly relaxed environment. The highlight of any stay at the resort is the opportunity to interact with nature. Guests get the chance to enjoy the playful antics of the wild dolphins that visit Tangalooma jetty each night. Echo, Nari and the rest of the dolphin family are always full of chatter and love to show off. Hand-feed them as they gather at the shore or watch from the jetty, either way the experience is unforgettable. With more than 80 activities on offer, more than half are free and the toughest decision will be which to choose first.
Text by Antonius Martono | Photos courtesy of Queensland Tourism