December 16th, 2006 – by: sissanoel
View from our apartment in Surfers Paradise, looking towards Cavill Mall.
BIG drive today from Rockhampton
to Surfers Paradise. Woke up early so left at about 6.15am. Stopped at Granite Creek for a coffee break at 8.15am at an Operation Coffee Break stop. These are run during public holidays (eg: Christmas, school holidays etc) by volunteer groups such as fire brigades and are provided to encourage drivers to take a break. You are provided with a rest stop with toilets, and get a coffee or tea and biscuits for free - the refreshments are donated by Bushells. It is a great idea and we use them whenever we can - most people leave a donation which then goes to the volunteer groups that are manning the site. We stopped for another coffee at an Operation Coffee Break near Maryborough - they had a little pond nearby with tortoises so quite a few of the biscuits went towards feeding the wildlife! Had lunch in Caboolture
, the main claim to fame of which is it's where Keith Urban grew up.
Surfers Paradise from near SeaWorld.
We arrived at our apartment in Surfers mid-afternoon - very impressed! We lashed out a bit on this - you can't come to Surfers and not stay in a high-rise with a view! Our apartment is on the 16th floor at looks out to the beach and up towards Cavill Mall. We can sit out on our balcony and watch the sun set. Instead of doing that, however, Noel decided that we had to go to Ripley's Believe it or Not! in Cavill Mall. Incredibly tacky but a bit of fun, even got a discount with our YHA card (those things are certainly worth having). Went back to the apartment and had a drink on the balcony watching the lights of the Gold Coast.
As our second day was a Sunday, we went out to the Carrara Markets. These are apparently the biggest markets in Queensland, but we were quite disappointed.
Looking up the beach at Surfers from our apartment.
There's lots of emphasis in the brochures about local artists etc., but we couldn't find many of those, just lots of cheap imported junk. These markets are just like Paddys Markets in Sydney
, but not as big or as good. The only redeeming feature was the food stalls, of which there were plenty at cheap prices. We then went to Jupiters Casino and blew a whole $3 on the pokies! Also had a look around the Pacific Fair Shopping Centre - it is absolutely huge and to be honest we got bored and left. It was just too big, but no doubt great if you actually need something! We went on a canal cruise in the afternoon, took us past all the luxury houses and out near SeaWorld. It was a bit windy, but the 2 hour trip was certainly worth doing and the afternoon tea provided was most enjoyable!
Went to SeaWorld on our third day - this is really worth a visit.
The dolphin show at SeaWorld.
It costs $64 per adult (but you can get discounts by pre-booking) but you can spend the whole day there having a great time. We went on a couple of rides that come down steep declines and get you very wet, but great for hot days! We did not go on the roller coaster - too exciting for us two oldies. SeaWorld has also built an "Eye" for the summer, a mini-London Eye that gives you a great view over the Gold Coast - although it is apprently only going to be there this summer so you need to get in quick. We went to all the shows (dolphins, sea lions and water skiing) and also went on the monorail, cable car and train - even sans children you can enjoy everything. Of course the animals are also heaps of fun (particularly the polar bears) and the touching pool is great for star fish, sting rays etc.
After nearly a month on the road, we went home in the afternoon to our apartment to catch up on the goings-on in the Bold and the Beautiful - have to say not much has changed!
Our last day was spent fulfilling one of Noel's dreams - finding a thunderegg! Thundereggs are rocks which have been crystallised over millions in years so that when cut in half they often have beautiful and colourful interiors. We drove out to Mount Tambourine and went to Thunderbird Park where you can pay to hire a bucket and pick and chip away in a mine until you find thundereggs. We spent a couple of hours and then had the lad cut two of our eggs which he thought might be worth looking at. They were quite small but still had a nice pattern so we've kept them. We then returned to Surfers for lunch on the beach and a swim before heading off tomorrow.