Updated: Jan 12
Trev and I have lived on Australia's Gold Coast all our adult lives...actually, Trev has since he was 10, so even longer for him.
Obviously we both truly love this neck of the woods. It has it all.
Well, except snow. ;)
From endless beaches which are primarily empty, to the rainforest hinterland,
which we are proud to call home. We can watch the annual migration of the whales pass us by just offshore, as we dine on fresh local seafood at our local surf club, or book a trip on a whale watching boat,
to really get up close and personal to these
gentle giants of the sea.
We have a 'World Surfing Reserve', one of only 8 worldwide, a 16 km stretch of pristine coastline which hosts many world famous surfing competitions. If you're lucky, you can run into these colourful local sporting heroes on a wave next to you,
or having a drink at their local surf club, or even chilling at their own
craft beer premises, Balter Brewery. Nothing cooler than seeing Mick Fanning or Joel Parkinson pull you a beer!
We have a fabulous ocean Broadwater area, where you can enjoy a day tour on a cruiser or yacht, or zoom off in your own boat or jet ski up to our local islands for a pub lunch and some live music with friends on a weekend.
Even our off shore fishing is amazing, with mackerel and snapper runs, as well as
big game fish expeditions.
We have theme parks and animal sanctuaries, a hot nightclub district and casino,
and thousands of restaurants, bars and cafes to satisfy your every culinary desire.
Championship golf courses, football stadiums, wineries, you name it,
you can even ride horses along certain beaches.
We also host a great annual V8 car race, the Gold Coast 600, which transforms our beachside main roads into a Monaco styled Grand Prix track, as well as the Gold Coast Marathon,
Magic Millions Racehorse Carnival, as well as an International Boat Show.
I think we cover a lot of bases! Just typing this out, makes me realise even more how cool it is to live here.
It's what we happily call home, and we are always glad to return here from our
overseas adventures. Home IS where the heart is, and we have carved out a very happy life here on
Queensland's beautiful Gold Coast.
In this blog, I will chat about places we have frequented, and have enjoyed taking our visiting guests, whether they are Aussies, or international friends.
Welcome, to our home,
Queensland's Gold Coast.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
When we have friends from overseas stay with us, we usually work out a plan of attack according to their length of stay. If, for instance, they only have 3 days, and obviously going with their wishes of course, but if we were to choose, we would always start with this place: Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
Who doesn't want to cuddle a koala and hand feed the kangaroos? Even I take new photos every time I visit the place. It's always different.
Plus it helps, that one of my dearest friends, Kylie, is head of Koalas down there.
We get a real 'up close and personal' experience with these adorable creatures.
Twice a day, hundreds of rainbow lorikeets swing by for a feeding - a tradition that began decades ago with the original owner of the property, and clearly the birds all told their mates, and have been visiting every day since. They are wild, but they will sit on your arms and even your head, with a hope of getting some of the specially formulated sweet liquid that is provided for them in little trays
that you get to hold. This lorikeet feeding can be enjoyed without even paying to get into the park.
They open the doors to visitors free of charge for this twice daily ritual. All they ask is for a gold coin donation.
They also do amazing conservation and animal rescue work at the Sanctuary;
so get yourselves there;
cuddle a koala, feed a kangaroo, pat a dingo, take an emu selfie if you're game, and get photographed with one of the world's largest eagles, the Wedged Tail. Allow a good few hours to enjoy these amazing native and exotic animals,
birds and reptiles, as well as the various shows they put on for you. A fun and educational experience, and your entry fee goes directly back into the Sanctuary.
My favourite Surf Club
Either before or after your visit to the Wildlife Sanctuary, you can enjoy a meal or drink at, in my opinion, the best located Surf Club on the Gold Coast; Currumbin Vikings Surf Club.
Here you get to dine as you sit literally right over the beach,
with the waves pounding on the rocks right in front of you. It's nestled right next to 'Elephant Rock'...a unique rock formation resembling it's name, which you can climb the steep steps to the top for 360 deg views of the coast. I've been there sipping champagne, and watched whales breaching not far off shore.
It's amazing. Make sure you book a table, as it gets busy there every day of the week.
The Outback Spectacular
Another place we love to take our guests, is to The Outback Spectacular.
This is theatre restaurant with a difference!
It's set in a huge auditorium, where the elevated seating wraps around an arena of sand, and you get to enjoy an action packed Australian story, featuring stunt horse riders and special lighting effects to take your breath away.
They change the shows every so often, but it's always so very 'Aussie', and along with quite a nice 3 course meal, and bottomless beer and wine - it makes for a great night! Lots of audience participation, and you get to keep your souvenir hat. :)
Giddy up girls!
Between the months of May through to October, the whales are migrating past the Gold Coast, and this natural phenomenon is always a crowd pleaser.
Whether you espy them yourself as you stroll along the beach, or better still, get to go out on a boat to see them. We have had a boat, just a small one, but I must admit, the idea of getting close to a full grown humpback whale, is more than a little intimidating...
Instead, we'd rather pay the experts and spend a few hours out on a proper charter vessel, with experts at the helm. We chose to cruise on The Spirit of Migaloo 2 .
It is a state of the art marine vessel, owned and operated by Seaworld.
(*'Migaloo' is the name of a stunning albino humpback whale that goes past most years.
It's always exciting when he is spotted! Click on his name for some amazing images.)
These boat captains know how to find them, and track along their journey with
safety and respect.
By law, we can't get too close to them, however, that doesn't stop them coming close to check us out, flapping their pectoral fin at us, even diving under the boat. When they dive that's when you peel your eyes near where they last were, because they'll come back up shortly, often in a giant breach and flop back into the water with an almighty splash, and cheers from everyone watching in awe.
This video may be 4 minutes long, but it is amazing - check it out!
Who wants to go after watching that video?
We got to witness this fabulous event last August, with a group of friends we met on our Antarctica expedition earlier in the year.
It was great to have a reunion, and we all wore our red polar jackets to
commemorate the occasion.
It was a brilliant day!
I want to do it again and again.
Photo credits: our daughter, Brittany Watson.
Horse riding at Cabba!
Having owned horses for well over 30 years here on the coast, I was embarrassed to say that I had never been riding on the beach. This surely, is every horse owner's dream,
or any horse lover's dream for that matter. The wind in your hair, the splash at your horse's feet, and the sheer freedom of it all.
Sometimes, it doesn't always go that way... in my youth I would have thrown a leg over a bareback horse, wearing nothing but a bikini top and pair of shorts, and cantered on the hard sand by the water's edge, and ridden into the water, if the horse was game. Not all horses like the water, let alone moving water!
Now-a-days, I prefer to enjoy just riding a horse at a leisurely walk along the shoreline...
in a saddle, with my sports bra firmly strapped on,
and my head snugly tucked into a riding helmet. I'm too old to fall off, as I don't bounce back up like I used to!
So, last Easter, when a friend invited me down to camp with their horses by the beach at Cabarita, just 20 minutes south of the Gold Coast, I literally jumped at the chance to enjoy a ride at one of the few places you can ride horses freely on the beach around here.
A dream come true.
Now, we just camped at the Pony Club, and used my friends' horses, but I'm sure you can google where to hire horses and join a trail group. I can't recommend any in particular as we didn't use them. But give it a go if you're into horse riding.
It's an experience like no other, and I look forward to my next beach ride.
Yeah, nah, that's not me. ;)
O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat
Ok, now for a green change, so we'll drive up into the Hinterland behind the beaches
for a retreat into the forest.
Trev and I were fortunate to be invited up to O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat,
as part of an 'end of year bash' by a company that supplies raw materials to our factory.
Thank you Laminex Industries for inviting us along.
About a 90 minute drive from the Gold Coast, through the winding roads and high up into the World Heritage listed, sub tropical rainforest of Lamington National Park,
you will find the old world charm of O'Reilly's.
We arrived there one December day, after driving up from a hot and humid Gold Coast, only to step out of the car at a chilly 12 deg Celsius!
We were staying overnight, and didn't pack a sweater. It's December for goodness sake, it didn't even occur to us it may be cooler up the mountain. Cold more like it, and rainforest. Weird.
First stop; the souvenir shop for 2 polar fleece sweat shirts.
Then to the bar and fireplace. That's life up in the mountain...you need to pack for all seasons.
It's a world away from the 'glitter strip' and tourists. Its quiet, the air - clear and crisp,
with just the sounds of birds to break the silence. Oh, and the cheers and thrills from the zipline they have here just a short distance away from the lodgings...always something for the thrill seekers!
We enjoyed a wonderfully social evening with great food, flowing drinks and a raging fire...
it felt like we were in a ski resort.
The next morning we awoke to a myriad of feathered friends on our balcony,
who enjoyed sharing their space with us.
There are many bush walking tracks to enjoy, as well as a great skywalk high above the tree canopy for spectacular views to the distance.
A lovely little getaway for romantics and families alike.
The accommodation is pretty old and basic, (well the room we had was anyway...)
but we didn't mind. It was a treat to be there.
It's the outdoors you are there for.
Well, that's what we reckon.
It has a fabulous history, with an extraordinary story of a plane crash
and survival account too.
It's well worth a visit, even if it's just for the day.
Q1, Australia's tallest building.
Are you scared of heights?
It's ok, you don't have to stand on a ledge,
just enjoy one of the world's fastest lifts to the observation lounge of our
iconic building, the Q1.
You can leave the famous 'SkyPoint Climb' to the adventure seekers. ;)
As I write this, I have a voucher to do this climb, having had to cancel it recently during the floods, so Trev and I are eager to get up there for the most amazing views - I say we, but Trev's not too keen, but he'll come. He did a shark cage dive with me against his better judgement, and loved it, so I reckon this one is perhaps a little safer...
I'll add our own photos here later. This video says it all.
If you prefer to watch from inside, that's perfectly fine too. They have a fabulous, wall to wall glass observation deck, with heaps of signage so you know what you're looking at, as well as a full bar and restaurant.
Yes, you pay to go up to the top, as you would for any of the 'world's tall buildings',
but what I like, is that the one pass can be used more than once in the same day.
Go there for a lunch or high tea, then come back later in the evening and see our famous Gold Coast under a blanket of twinkling lights.
You won't be disappointed.
Plus, this may be a little thing, but handy to know... they will validate your underground parking when you buy your lift pass - so no parking fees. It all helps!
It's absolutely well worth doing. All our guests that have done this, have loved it. I even took my much loved Mother in Law up for a ladies high tea, and I can't wait to go back and do it with her once again.
Gold Coast Skydive!
Whilst you're still up high in the sky, I may as well take you a little higher. Make that - a lot higher!
Let me just spin you a wee story first...
Every Sunday morning, Trev and I have breakfast down by the gorgeous Kirra beach.
Here, we read the paper, and I scour through the 'escape' pages, looking for our next
trip idea or deal.
Anyhoo... as we are right opposite the beach, often we see parachutists landing,
right before our eyes, on the beach across the road. This part of Kirra Beach is actually a dedicated runway, part of the Gold Coast Airport which is basically behind us.
Wellllll, I just happened to mention to Trev that I would SOOOOOOOOO love to do this one day!
Ok, so he listens on occasion! Haha, just kidding, he listens, mostly... ;)
So, fast forward a month or so, and we were on our South American trip, Machu Picchu, Amazon and all that, and at the very end of the trip we were on the
high lakes of Lake Titicaca, Peru - on my 50th birthday.
I'm getting to the point, honest ... ;)
...So that evening, in front of a crowded restaurant, who had just sung Happy Birthday to me, in Spanish no less; Trev presented me a card with sentiments from our whole tour group, plus an envelope. Yup, you guessed it - a tandem skydive voucher! Yeeeeee-bloody-haaaaaa!
I was ecstatic! I could have just said Trev bought me a voucher, but where's the romance in that? Surely you know by now I like to have a yarn. :)
Once we returned back to Australia, where we still had another 50th birthday bash to enjoy -(mechanical bull included), I made sure I booked this puppy in for the next available weekend.
What an absolute thrill this was for me. Even the 25 minutes or so it took to climb to 13,000 feet, was like a joy flight - however there was one difference - our side door wasn't there!
I was the last of 6 to go, and it was the most exciting thing I have ever done. Flying in a little plane over the Gold Coast on a crisp Autumn morning?
Do me a favour? Pinch me!
To hang your legs out the door and sit there for a few seconds, and then roll out...its pretty hard to describe how amazing that really is.
Lucky for me, my family and a bunch of friends were all waiting on the beach below - I could here them cheering me on as I landed.
Now we've started something, and I really want to do this over Dubai next...see Palm Island from above. But in the desert winter please. Haha.
Under an hour from the Gold Coast is this fantastic boutique winery, Sirromet. We have watched it grow from its humble beginnings, to become a leading Qld winery, function centre and venue for rock concerts and 'A Day on The Green'. Here, you get bring a chair and blanket, and your own food if you like, and you get to grab beer, wine or bourbon, kick back as the sunsets over the rolling hills of grapevines, and listen to the tunes of your favourite muso.
Last one we went to was Aussie greats such as John Farnham, Daryl (Dazzaaa) Braithwaite, Ross Wilson, with a few other supports including an old fave of mine, Richard Marx.
The wine is great, the venue awesome, so it's worth a look if you are around. Even Elton plays there when he tours.
One year we even went to a 'Burning of the Vines' celebration...an age old French tradition where they create an enormous stack of prunings of the old wood, and then torch it in a traditional ceremony. Biggest bloody bonfire I'd ever seen!
4XXX Brewery, Brisbane.
Ok, so not the Gold Coast, but if you visit the GC, chances are you will see our capitol, Brisbane too, (which is just an hour or so up the road), so I thought I'd add one more booze related activity!
Hey, I went, and I don't even like beer! It's a really interesting and quite historical tour all the same, and the rest of our party made up for my lack of sampling. ;)
The Castlemeine Perkins 4XXXX Brewery is a Queensland institution.
It supports so many sporting teams and events, its hard go to any sports field in this state and not find a 4XXXX beer for sale.
Locally known as the 'Tradie's choice', it has been around for generations, and is certainly a lot cheaper than the imported and local craft beers.
And that, is about all I know about beer, as sorry guys, I'm not a fan. I am a fan however, of the fun, 90 minute tour that runs during the day on a regular basis.
Our Welsh friends happen to be off ship for the day in Brisbane, so we met them at the dock and took them under our wings for the day. You can read in my Australia Day blog that we met them again in Sydney!
Yup, we stalked 'em. ;)
Anyhoo, after a quick stop at the Mount Cooth-ha lookout of the city,
... we arrived at this symbolic old brick factory that has been part of the Brisbane skyline since 1878, only 90 years after The First Fleet arrived!
Have a read of the story on the link above, it's really interesting.
On the tour you get to learn so much more - quirky little anecdotes, alongside a great lesson in the art of beer making. You see the whole factory, and can take photos everywhere, which is pretty cool.
At only $32 a head, which includes about 6-8 small glasses of different beers to sample at the end - perhaps you might need to stay for lunch at their restaurant afterwards,
or have a designated driver!
Actually, they have a huge wood fire oven there and the pizzas were amazing!!!
(The mushroom one was to die for!).
Cheers, Big Ears!
The Collective, Palm Beach.
Fast becoming a tourist attraction in it's own right, this fantastic restaurant/bar venue,
The Collective, has become a favourite of many Gold Coasters, including us, and we are more than happy to end a visitor's trip to the Goldy with a night out at this fun,
A genius idea, to create a central hub of a restaurant, where 5 different cuisines are offered on the same menu. You want Asian food? Tick. You want Italian, American Diner, Mexican, or a standard across the board menu? Tick.
You want gluten free, vegetarian or vegan? Tick. Uber Eats or take out? Of course!
They can even cater your private functions.
Talk about covering all bases.
But wait. They celebrate Christmas like no other, and their New Year's Eve Party is always sold out and goes off like a rocket! It's truly a place to see, and be seen.