Having a seal kiss.
We left Sydney at 7 am on the 3rd of Jan...New Year, new adventure we thought. The bus ride to Coffs Harbour took 9 hours so we were felling a little groggy when we got there (I especially felt bad as I was up from 3am the night before with terrible insomnia - sorry to those at home who I pestered with my phone calls!). We took a walk down to the sea that first afternoon as there was a sand castle competition on the beach with some very impressive entries and walked around the fun fair on the way back to our hostel. The next day's weather was not the best and we walked around the town and along the beach again (it turns out that the weather was hot enough for us to catch the sun...
A kiss from Zippy.
I have lovely lines on my arms!). We didn't do any going out in Coffs as we had plans for lots of socalising in Surfers paradise, instead opting to chat with the couple in our room, the bloke from Cardigan, and her from Devon. They both went to Swansea University, and stayed on for a year after their degrees, so we had lots to talk about! They were really cool and we were glad of the good company over our time there.
Our last day in Coffs was the best. We went to the local sea world type attraction called 'Pet Porpoise Pool' (although by their own admission they don't have any popoises). This place is the ONLY place in the world where you can interact with the animals without getting into the water with them. Before the water show, we were all alowed to have a kiss from Ella the seal and Zippy the dolphin! This was very cool.
By the sea at Coffs Harbour.
You could even put your hand in the pool to stroke the dolphins and throw balls for them to catch and play with. All the creatures there had been rescued and some were getting ready to be set back into the wild (I don't much like the idea of zoos and things) so I found this comforting to know. You could see how happy the animals are there. The show was excellent, the dolphins and seals doing countless tricks, all very impressive.
They also have other animals too, kangaroos, peacocks, fairy penguins (which you could feed fish to) and a snake and reptile section with a show in which you could hold and feel them too. We had a fab afternoon there and popped down to the beach for a bit afterwards too...a good day.
Our next stop was to Surfers Paradise on Queensland's Gold Coast.
John walking along the beach at Coffs.
This was to take 7 hours on the bus and we were not best pleased when we found out that the only bus they could get us on was the over night bus that left Coffs at 3:30 am! We slept most of the way to Surfers Paradise (thank God). I was awake at about 6:30 am and taking in the scenery from the front windscreen of the bus as we were sitting directly behind the bus driver. We were travelling through the middle of nowhere at this point.
John was snoring beside me with his head on my shoulder and the bus driver was on the phone whilst driving (I am not quite sure what the laws are about that sort of thing over here; in Mexico, they advertise mobiles by having a large billboard picture of someone on the phone whilst driving!!). All of a sudden a kangaroo jumped out into the middle of the road, then another.
At the sandcastle competition.
..I started shaking John awake because I was so chuffed to see my first 'wild' kangaroo. "Aaahh, look John!" I squeeled "look at the kangaroos!" As John awoke another, smaller kangaroo jumped out too..the bus driver tapped on his breaks to let them pass, but in vain as the young joey decided to stop and look at our on-comming bus. There was just enough time for the bus driver to say "here we go" before we had a much closer look at the kangaroo than we were expecting. The poor little joey's guts splatted literally all the way up the front windcreen of the bus! "Thanks a lot for that!" John said to me and tried his best to go back to sleep (I had to explain later that this was not a nightmare, but it really did happen). The bus driver even had to pull over as some of the joey was tuck underneath the bus! It was then that I noticed the 'kangaroo bars' on the front of the bus for exactly this type of occasion...I don't feel half as bad as I did for knocking over that rabbit on the way to Cardiff now!!