Tag Archives: Holidays

My Gold Coast holiday

During Easter I went to the Gold Coast. To be honest before I went I couldn’t say that a Gold Coast holiday is my kind of thing, but it is a place to visit if you are an Australian.   And really I wanted to go there since when my parents went to the Milan consulate in the early 70’s to enquire about migrating,  and they were given a set of posters. I can’t remember what they portrayed except one where a girl was feeding parrots and they were on her head which was placed in my sister’s bedroom. I had no idea where that was, but I now know that it probably was from the Currumbin Sanctuary.

One thing that struck me about the Gold Coast is how it encapsulate the discrepancy between the image of Australia as a place of empty open spaces with the reality of being one of the most urbanised populations in the world mainly in coastal cities. In this way we can say that the Gold Coast is more ‘Australian’ than the Simpson Desert. Although in general Australians eschew high rise living as recent trends have shown that Australians like big houses with a bedroom and seemingly a dedicated bathroom for each member of the family. So perhaps to truly reflect Australia this area should look like a Delfin Estate type of accommodation which would extend from the coast all the way to Mt. Tamborine or the Springbrook National Park, so thanks heavens for high rise development.

We stayed at Kirra Beach which is between Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta, so we avoided the glitz and bling of Surfers itself.  We did stay in a high rise but as someone who was born and spent his first 13 years of his life in one I had no problems with it, and of course it provided quite a nice view.

Also people who have read my blog before may have noticed that I hate discomfort.  Camping every summer becomes a bit of an endurance exercise for me after the first week, so after being in a nice apartment with an en-suite bathroom, widescreen digital TV, hot showers and a pool and spa below I am starting to realise that despite advocating in the past in being amongst nature,  maybe this is the sort of holiday I am more suited in my middle age.

Of course it was not all relaxing.  One major purposes of this holiday was to experience the fun parks.  After all this is supposed to be a major aspect of coming up here apart from the beach.  I state categorically that I do not find being thrown, tossed and gyrated fun.  In fact I don’t understand why people actually queue and pay to be strapped in in these tools of torture.  But I guess it has to be part of the ‘experience’.  So armed with our ‘Fun Pass’ we went first to Movie World .  It was overall tacky and cheesy.  But I guess I didn’t expect the Smithsonian Museum experience there.  My partner pushed reluctant me and reluctant son to some rides.  Fortunately she doesn’t like stomach churning roller coasters as well (such as the Superman ride)  but we did go on the Wide West Falls Adventure Ride, which consists of a flume dropping down a big slide, which wasn’t too bad (in fact my son which was not happy to go on it initially went with my partner twice the next day, I had my ‘experience’ and stayed to look after the bags – you can watch a video someone put on this on youtube).

Then we went to ‘Wet and Wild’.  More rides.  Fortunately we went on a beautiful 28 degree day so at least we weren’t too cold.  We started gently on the Mammoth Falls, but then we had to go where we wanted to go in the first place, the ‘Tornado’.  The reason why initially I stated to everyone that I would have liked to go on this ride was because when I saw it on Getaway I think it looked like a fun gentle ride where you ride on a tube and gently roll on a big funnel which is horizontal, something like this.  But when I went there NO ONE TOLD ME WAS A FUCKING BIG FUNNEL TILTED AT 45 DEGREE ANGLE AND YOU ENTER IT A A GREAT FUCKING SPEED!

Actually it was fun and I went on it a couple of times.  If you want an action video of the ride you can see it on youtube here.  We then went to the  Mach 5 ride.  Actually the sidewinders (the slide that winds around and you travel on a inflatable dinghy) is heaps of fun.  It is fast but I never felt uneasy and it has been my favourite ride of the whole place.

I thought that that would be it for the day, but no.  Maybe my mistake was to say ‘well that was easy and fun!’ because that betrayed the situation that I wasn’t extended which resulted to being goaded to go to the jetstream slides.   Those are the slides you can see in the middle.  From the photo above they look benign, but they are very steep can I tell you.  I made a quick calculation that it was less painful having ten seconds of discomfort on this thing than half an hour of discussion about it so I went.  I didn’t enjoy at all.  Firstly because I am not someone who likes the sensation of freefall, but there is so much water being splashed around all you see is white, and what happened was that water got in my ear at great speed that made me deaf for two days.  If you want to have an idea of the slide the video is here.

The most intense torture device I saw there (which of course I didn’t go)  would have been a think called ‘Sky Coaster‘ where you are placed in an harness raised over 50 metres off the ground, pull a ripcord before plummeting face first towards the ground. Riders are then catapulted across the Giant Wave Pool on a suspended cable at 60km/h until according to the law of physics  you come to a rest (or close to it).  I saw people riding this thing with absolute terror, being white at the end.  Why do they do it? Why pay $50 for an experience that terrifies you?

There was something I could be on all day.  This was ‘Calypso Beach‘ where you float as long as you like on tubes on an artificial stream that takes you round and round.  Instead of ‘Wet and Wild’ it was ‘Wet and Mild’ and it suited me fine.

The next day of purgatory was at SeaWorld.  This was part of the ‘three Parks pass’ so we had to go.  I really wasn’t interested in going to this park.  I know they do great work in rehabilitating wildlife and marine research etc. but I can’t accept wildlife being trained to be clowns for the entertainment of humans, there is something deeply undignified about it.  The two shows with seals and dolphins confermed this opinion.  And of course there was the ‘ride’.  We settled for the ‘Jet Rescue‘ which while a ‘rollercoaster’ it doesn’t go 18o degrees in loops etc.  Again I wasn’t particualry keen but I KNEW THIS WAS GOING TO BE THE LAST FUCKING RIDE! So again I thought let’s go through it and that will be it.  It goes at about 70 Km/h and there is quite a bit of G force involved.  This video show the ride although it looks much slower there than the real thing.  I didn’t enjoy it and was glad when it was all over.

And when it was all over I said ‘that’s it’  we done the rides thing it was on the bucket list and it’s finished.

If I come back on the Gold Coast and it’s a warm day I may be tempted to go to the Wet and Wild rides I liked, but that would be it.  Certainly I have no desire to go to that other theme park I didn’t go to which is Dreamworld.

In between Wet and Wild and Seaworld we had a beautiful beach day.  The great thing about swimming up there is that unlike Victoria, where even in the height of summer the water is icy, the water is warm.  So unlike summers here I went swimming in the ocean many times that day.  Here is a photo of me on that day. Fortunately there were real lifesavers on that beach.

The last day we hired a car and went to Mt. Tamborine, Lamington, and Springbrook National Parks.  We weren’t too taken by Mt. Taborine to ne honest as it looked to us like a replica of the Dandenong Ranges with its gift shoppes and Devonshire Teas.  Lamington National Park was great.  We only did the walk near Binna Burra Lodge but it was enough to give is a taste of the beautiful forest.

We managed to get to Springbrook at about 5.30 pm which due to the easterly position of the Gold Coast meant that it was already quite dark.  But this allowed us to see the glow worms.

It certainly was a great holiday.  Funny thing is that I didn’t go to Currumbin Sanctuary after all.  So that promise to myself I made all those years ago remain unfulfilled.  Oh well, an excuse to go back in the not too distant future.

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The World Cup has started. But will I will be able to watch it in the tropics?

If there are two sporting events that I wait with anticipation these are the Olympics and of course the World Cup.

The World Cup has started, however there is a major disruption to my month of football bonanza.  Ever since I came and live in Australia more than three decades ago, I wanted to go and visit the wonders of tropical Queensland.  The Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Forest the islands etc.  This year is the year where a combination of more favourable financial conditions together with the fact that our son is old enough to appreciate a holiday this trip could happen.  No worries, I thought.  We’ll go in September when the Worl Cup will be done and dusted.  However, a bit of research and some advice from people who lived up there revealed that September may be too humid and wet.  The best time to visit Far North Queensland is in the middle of winter, when the humidity is relatively low, but temperatures are nevertheless in the high 20’s.  This had to be done to coincide with the school holidays which all meant that the trip will be right smang bang the middle of the World Cup.  Well, I will be able to see the first two matches where Australia is involved, and if all the experts are right Australia will be out of the Cup by then.  Also I am relying to the fact that Cairns etc. are touristy places with plenty of European backpackers and perhaps I will be able to access at some point.

I will be happy to report about my trip on this very blog.  This of course depends if I can get access to the internet.  We will see.

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Back from holidays

Our camping site

I am now back from my summer holidays, and therefore back to my blog.

I always have mixed feelings about these holidays.  I know that everyone wishes you a ‘happy break’ but to be truthful there is a lot of stress, mainly because the rest of my family is into camping.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not adverse to camping, however now that I am a year or so away from 50 I think that I am a bit over the whole ‘yes it’s uncomfortable but it’s fun’ thing.

And it’s not like I haven’t camped before.  My most cherished childhood memories are tied to three months a year when I was living in Italy being at a camping site (in Italy there is school of Saturdays, and was somewhat compensated by quite long summer holidays).  So one month in Lake Iseo, one month on the Adriatic and three weeks travelling around Europe with our trustworthy caravan.

Of course there are lots of differences between then and now.  Firstly is that there is lots of difference between the level of comfort a caravan and a tent provides.  I actually used to love being in the caravan all warm and cosy in my bunk and listen to the rain outside. The experience is different when there is only a layer of canvas between you and the elements and you are at ground level.

A major difference is also the wonder of childhood when sleeping in a tent is exciting.  My son’s cousins were staying at a five star resort with en suite bathrooms and plasma TVs in every bedroom and a huge one in the lounge and they still came to us for sleepovers.

Of course as a child you don’t realise that most of the work of driving, setting up, cooking etc. is done by your parents so no wonder my memories are so idyllic.

Another thing is that I am happy to be uncomfortable if there is a point to it.  During Easter I used to go with some friends to remote national parks in Victoria where camps had no electricity and the toilets were big holes where the mathematically inclined could calculate the distance between their anus and the pile of other camper’s shit by counting the time taken for their do doos to depart their derriere and plop below.   But this was necessary if I wanted to experience the wilderness and untouched natural beauty.

It is a different matter if we have a camping version recreation of Bayswater with children called ‘Abbey’ or ‘Brenton’, big boats and nylon Australian flags stuck on the poles of the tents.

A week is OK, but for me the novelty gets very thin after that.  Fortunately my partner understood this and suggested that we rented a house for the second week.  The house we got is humble.  A typical fibro shack built on steel stilts but it has everything you need.  A very comfortable queen size bed, a fridge, a kitchenette, a telly, comfy chairs and a simple bathroom with a shower you don’t have to share and therefore can use without wearing thongs.

When we arrived and settled in the cool change arrived and as I was hearing the wind and the rain lashing on the roof and the window at night I brought the doona closer to my ear, thought about those people back at the camping site and thought ‘poor bastards’.

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Summer holidays

Image from Lynn Bain

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