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.