Probably the most family friendly destination in Australia, there is something for everybody on Queensland's Gold Coast - long stretches of golden fine sand, exhilarating parks and a unique village
The first views we had of the Gold Coast were when the aeroplane we were on swooped past a row of towering apartment blocks which lined the coast. On our arrival at the airport, we were met by the friendly Ivan from Tiki car rental. We were pleasantly surprised at Tiki’s fuss-free service and all-inclusive low rates.
Within minutes, while whizzing along the Gold Coast Highway we took in the sights of the rows of shops and apartments in the towns along the way, whose primary reason for existence was to fuel and re-fuel the myriad needs of the tourists.
Half an hour later, we were at Breakfree Paradise Centre. The apartments were superbly located in an area of historical significance – it was where the original Surfers’ Paradise, a bar, was sited. Within the apartments, the decor was modern and simple. We enjoyed the soothing sounds and sights of the waves caressing the beach all day and night. The apartments were joined by a link-bridge to the beach so we could pad down to the sands in our beach gear any time. Every Wednesday and Friday night the Gold Coast night market is held along the beachfront, just across from the apartments, and we spent a pleasant evening browsing the artworks and knick-knacks that were on sale. The apartments were also linked to Paradise Centre and the main shopping strip, Surfers' Paradise Boulevard.
The most enjoyable part of our stay at the Gold Coast was the day spent at Seaworld. Those who are able to plan ahead can pre-purchase tickets at 10 per cent off at the website myfun.com.au. Fortunately, we managed to reach the park a little after it opened since it took us the whole day to see all the shows, attractions and rides we wanted to experience. There were seals, sharks, dolphins, rays, penguins, a 3D show, Sesame Street shows and polar bears, just to name a few. It was all very fun and educational. My two daughters, aged one and three, would have gladly gone on the Elmo car ride for a few more hours if we had the time!
At Currumbin we spent a pleasant morning at Honey World which was just opposite the Wildlife Sanctuary. The hourly tour, for which a small fee is charged, was highly informative - we saw the bees hard at work making honey and even managed to spot the queen bee. Not only was there free sampling of a range of delicious Australian honey - Eucalyptus, Macadamia, Tasmanian Leatherwood, Iron Bark, Rainforest, to name a few - we also obtained a good discount for our purchase.
We decided to check out Byron Bay, having heard much about the Bohemian atmosphere. This is actually across the next state in New South Wales but it was an easy two-hour drive along the Gold Coast highway, to its easternmost location on the Australian continent. Besides, there was also a chance that we would see humpback whales on their annual migration to the north. Together with thirty other hopefuls, we were duely rewarded at the Byron Bay lighthouse lookout and saw the tell-tale splashes of the tails in the distance. The views were amazing. Back at the quaint town centre of Byron Bay, we spent a leisurely hour or so exploring the shops and marvelling at the alternative therapies and lifestyles that were on display and sale. To round off our little adventure, we indulged in some organic doughnuts at Byron Bay Organic Donuts, which the shop assistant assured me were fresh since she had not stopped making them since that morning.
After three days at Breakfree Paradise Centre, we moved to the Paradise Resort Gold Coast which was just a few streets away. The resort’s main attraction was the kids’ club which was staffed by friendly and professional carers. We were pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to register our daughters for the free kids session included in our very reasonable accommodation package. We had a much-needed civilised dinner that night and, the next morning, had time to pack our luggage without two tots unpacking them as soon as they were in the bags. Our daughters seemed to have had fun too going through the toy boxes at the million-dollar Z4K (Zone for Kids) and watching the shows that were screened. The service was impeccable and the resort even sent me a postcard after my stay! I am definitely going back there if I’m around the area again.