Melbourne, Sydney and now, Gold Coast.
That is all to my Australia escapade for NOW. I’ll be seeing more of Australia come 2015 but I’ll update you guys once that is confirmed ok! 🙂
Flashback moment: My Melbourne adventure was 12 days long (itinerary & details here) and was a self-driven (with a guide) trip. Sydney was more work-related (for Luxperience) and I was just around Darling Harbour area.
Now Gold Coast was pure relaxation. Easy itinerary, great accommodation at the Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach, food, food and more food and some sight-seeing along the way.
Given a choice I’ll rather be visiting markets, throwing myself out of a plane in an activity called sky-diving, toasting myself brown on the beach; picking up some hunks in the process (as friends of course, what were you thinking?), shop and yes, EAT.
For Gold Coast offers all that and more.
Our itinerary were set in advance so there weren’t much planning from us. However, for a first timer like me, it offers a good overview of what sunny Gold Coast has to offer.
For a start, having a good guide is cardinal if you are seeking a stress-free holiday.
Say hi to Darcy, our affable guide cum driver for our 4 day trip.
He knows what’s best to buy and where to get it, what time are the shops/beach/restaurants open/close, which are the best routes to get around and how much you should be paying for any service/items you have in mind.
1. Shop at Pacific Fair, Coles, Myers and farmers’ markets:
I’ll be preparing another post on shopping alone but here’s the gist of it.
In Australia, Woolsworth and Coles are the main supermarkets for groceries, daily goods and even medicine and supplements.
I stock up on my glucosamine whether I’m in Australia. The quality and prices are worth the trouble.
And of course, for souvenirs, Tims Tams shouts “Australia” louder than a kangaroo keychain.
Confectioneries are aplenty, and if you are around Target, then almost everything is a good buy!
I tried the Swisse brand for the past few months and I did experience better (lesser pain) joints since then.
It is also the brand that Australian Olympics athletes use (or so it was printed as such on the bottles) so that’s a good gauge of a great product right?
Another popular brand with a wide range of supplements from chill pill to probiotics to men’s multi -vitamins is Cenovis.
Organic sweeteners are cheaper here. I use them a lot for my baking.
Step into Target at your own risk.
Farmers’ market are popular here and are usually operational on weekends. Check with your guide or hotel concierge for one near to you.
Some of the farmers’ markets that you can check out: Farmers Market at the Marina Mirage, Bundall Farmers Market @ Gold Coast Turf Club, Burleigh Market, Palm Beach Currumbin Farmers Market and The Organic Gold Coast Farmers Market.
If you are willing to travel further the super Carrara Market which is Australia’s biggest market with over 400 stalls is a good bet for a half-a-day outing.
We were not able to go since arrangements were already made for the Farmers’ Market at Marina Mirage, but I’ll definitely want to visit the next time I’m in the Gold Coast. Darcy told us that it is almost like the Chatucak market in Bangkok.
Operational hours are usually from 7am to 12pm but there are some which are open until 4pm.
2. Golfing at Mercure Gold Coast Resort
Yeah I know. Gold Coast isn’t exactly = golfing.
But do you know that there more than 30 courses located within a 20km radius here, and there are no fewer than 11 International standard golfing resorts ready to extend a friendly welcome to golfing enthusiasts?
I have not played golf before at all and actually found it was fun to be whacking some balls (legitly) in the golf range.
A bonus was the expertise shared during our 2 hours lesson by the team at The Gold School. It turned out to be a good exercise and stress reliever session. 😀
The Golf School offers lessons for the young ones as well so I’m thinking this would be ideal for families traveling with kiddos. While the kiddos are being taken care of, mummy can read in the shade while pappa can hone his golf skills on the course.
Us – the pros. NOT. 😀
3. Currumbin National Park: Koalas are an attraction but …
There’s more to the Currumbin National Park than koalas you know.
But first, let me get a picture with one…..
The queue for the “take a picture with the koala” is long but worth the wait if you really, really, really want to cuddle a koala.
There are not many places in Australia (or in Asia) that offers this service so you might as well take the opportunity to do so if you are already at Currumbin.
The photo will be taken by a professional photographer and the cost of this is included in the General Admission Ticket fee which is AUD49 (RM150 +).
More about ticket prices here –> http://www.cws.org.au/cws-ticket/general-admission/
I know most of you would go “Awww…” at koalas, so here, let me feed you the obligatory koala images.
The last time I saw koalas up-close was at the The Koala Conservation Center on Philp Island.
We didn’t get to touch or hold any then. So I was thrilled that I will finally get to hug a koala today. Til I found out that they stink.
They really do.
Here’s a little bit of info about koalas:
A koala is not a bear.
A koala EATS ALL DAY.
Koalas also sleep approximately 20 hours a day, so be prepared to spend your time watching them snooze.
Koalas are not cute. Really.
They live to eat, poop, sleep and breed, that’s it.
A baby koala is called a “joey”.
Koalas have a slow metabolic rate due to their high-fiber, low nutrient diet (they only eat eucalyptus leaves).
Because they store little or no fat, koalas must adopt strategies that conserve energy hence they sleep up to 16 hours per day & they are very inactive.
Once you are done with the koalas, continue to wander through open animal enclosures here to discover kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, crocodiles and dingoes.
At certain hours of the day, visitors are kept enthralled with animal feeding shows and more photos with the tenants of Currumbin Sanctuary.
Kids would love the outdoor themed playgrounds such as Wild Island, where there is plenty of entertainment for kids to enjoy as they tour the sanctuary on a miniature train.
In fact, we saw plenty of adults on the train as well!
Well, it is a large park (27 hectares) and some adults found it tiring to walk so much I guess? 🙂
I loved the walk.
The park is clean, the path shady and the air crisp.
If I ever come back, you will definitely find me at the Adventure Parc.
This exhilarating treetops ropes obstacle course offers 80 challenges over 4 separate courses. Challengers will have to weave their way through the eucalypt and rainforest canopy, taking them higher and further into the spectacular natural setting.
Now, this is my kind of “park” –> The Adventure Parc!
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is owned by National Trust of Queensland and it is a non-profit organisation. There are only a few full-timers (5 to be exact!) and the rest of the caretakers are working on voluntary basis.
We were amazed with the efficiency and the condition of the park for an organisation that is running nearly purely on charity. All proceeds are by donation or raised via ticket sales.
The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary isn’t merely a “zoo” but also a retreat that aims to educate visitors with a deep understanding of local heritage, native wildlife and conservation.
It also houses one of the busiest Wildlife Hospital in Australia and all paying sanctuary visitors will get to see into the hospital and the surgical theatre for free.
The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Hospital:
Here you can witness how the team care & treat (free-of-charge) the native animals bought in by the public. The vets are professionals of course, and supported by passionate volunteers.
On the day of our visit, we got to witness a Wedge Tail Eagle being treated. One of its wings injured from being trapped in barbed wires and the poor bird couldn’t fly.
The big animal looked so docile against the arms of the nurse. It was still under anesthesia then. I had wished I could hold a wild animal like that too!
Goofing around… I’m an Osprey! 🙂
We had an educational time thanks to our guide who took us on the tour of the santuary. To keep abreast of news of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary do follow them on Instagram and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/currumbin.wildlife.sanctuary .
4. Swim and play by the beach:
This is almost self-explanatory.
The Gold Coast beaches are beautiful. Some are crowded while some are pretty quiet.
There are many beaches for one to explore so do a little research to find one that is near you. The common activities are jet-skiing, paragliding, swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking, jet-boating and cruises.
Oh, let’s not forget to say hi to the beach hunks.. 🙂
The sun could be shining bright but the wind is cold (it was in November) so you don’t actually feel very hot.
I love my mornings on the beach.
It is very motivating to see fitness enthusiasts around you doing sprints, squats, push-ups or just running, kicking up dust as they speed down the beach.
Families with kids are seen just chilling as the children build sandcastles and play with the fine sand.
And of course, let’s not forget the most favourite activity of all time; posing for pictures. 🙂
Beaches around Gold Coast are unpolluted even though there are so many people!
The sand is soft and fine, the waves strong and the water pristine. You don’t see any rubbish along the beach nor floating debris in the waters.
Gosh, if only the beaches in Malaysia are like that.
With its long coastline and close proximity with the ocean, Gold Coast’s ocean’s bounty is naturally at its best.
Indeguous produce are worth a try if you know where to find them, burgers, salads and pastries are upsized, seafood served was probably just fished out of the sea a few hours ago and beef is, well, one of Australia’s best export so it is expectedly better in flavour here.
For the cost conscious Woolsworth and Coles are your best bet. There are ready-cooked food aisles with roast chicken, pies, fries, pasta etc plus freshly baked breads available as well as frozen meals.
These are ideal to be bought back to your accommodation to be consumed.
Else you can buy them for a picnic on the beach!
There is no lacking of restaurants, bars and fast food joints for a memorable meal and for that happy hours drinks either.
Where we ate and drank will be covered in detail in the “What to eat” post, basically a list of where we stuffed ourselves silly with glorious food and hopefully it’s a good guide for you in your Gold Coast trip! 🙂
**This trip was made possible by Accor Hotels, Scoot Airlines & Gold Coast Tourism. Thank you for the wonderful experience!
Below: My travel companions from Singapore – Beatrice, Irene and Sara! We are the happy girls! 😀
NOTE: There are 4 parts to the Gold Coast travelogue:
1. What to do in Gold Coast, Australia: Shop, beach, swim, golf, Currumin National Park
2. What to eat
3. Where to shop (where I shopped!)
4. Our accommodation : The Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach.
Stay tuned as I update my drafts of the above. They should all be published before 31st Dec. *fingers crossed* 🙂