Let’s face it, the Gold Coast is mainly famous for being, well, sunny, but this year we happen to visit during the wettest Summer on record.
But we’re undeterred. We will have fun or die trying.
It has been a long drive here, made infinitely more bearable by the spacious Ford Territory we’re driving and its built in DVD player. In the end, we don’t have to try too hard to have fun. Honestly, when there’s theme parks involved, kids don’t mind getting wet. In fact I think they rather enjoy it.
The trick is to accept your fate and get on with it. Kids can do this easier than adults I think. Or they have lower sensitivity to wet clothes. Or something...
In any case, there are a few things to point out:
- It very rarely rains consistently all day. There are always a few hours of sunshine.
- A couple of the theme parks we plan to visit here will make us wet anyway.
- It’s still warm. Well, muggy.
Here are our Picks of the Parks:
- The family dolphin encounter. Miraculously, the sky clears as we pull into the car park and it stays that way while we watch the amazing dolphin show and chat to the keeper afterwards.
- Shark Bay. The Tropical Reef Snorkel is incredible. A man-made reef in an enormous tank full of the Barriers Reef’s finest. There are reef sharks, stingrays, wobbygongs, wrasse and all manner of colourful reef fish. It’s a great opportunity for the kids to swim with some larger fish that they wouldn’t normally get the chance to – and a great way to show them that not all sharks are dangerous.
- Penguin Exhibit. Introduced last year, this exhibit is beautiful and offers the very rare opportunity to see emperor penguins up close.
- Buzz Saw. I think I may have sworn in front of the kids on this one but I’m hoping they didn’t hear me over their own screams. It takes you backwards into a loop, leaves you hanging upside for while before projecting you at high speed around the loop.
- Giant Drop. Oldie but a goldie – with possibly the best view of Gold Coast from the top. This doesn’t get any less scary the more times you ride it.
- Buffet lunch at the Billabong Restaurant is pretty damn good value.
- The Wedgie. Step into the chamber and cross your arms in brace position before the trapdoor beneath you opens to send you plummeting down 5 storeys. Shudder.
- Super Tubes Hydrocoaster. A rollercoaster on water with exhilarating drops and turns that propels you from its tower at high speed.
- Kamikaze. Sit in a giant tube and get tipped over the edge at about a 90 degree angle, get swished around the bowl at the bottom. There may have been an involuntary scream.
- Aqua Loop. The trap door opens and sends you hurtling through a tunnel and loop the loop.
- Green Lantern. Drops that go past 90 degrees (effectively upside down) before looping you round and up to the next.
- Superman Escape. Shoots you out of the “collapsing train station” and up at 100kph, then drops you.
Where to stay:
Treasure Island Holiday Park has cabins, villas and units as well as caravan and campsites. The villas are extremely spacious (even for us) and the property has three swimming pools, a giant jumping pillow, playground, mini-golf, indoor games and wireless internet. What more could a child need? There’s also a bar!
Where to eat:
You really can’t beat the Hard Rock Café. The kids love the food, the staff love the kids and whole experience is fun. Especially, as in our case, it happens to be someone’s birthday. Birthday boy is asked to stand on his chair, a chocolate sundae is presented with candles, sparklers and the whole restaurant is asked to join in the cheer.
Deborah Dickson-Smith's first trip with her first child (at 4 months old) involved a 26 hour flight with no sleep, which is round-about when she realised travelling with kids wasn’t quite the same as without. Deborah has lived in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Edinburgh, London and now resides in Sydney’s northern beaches with her Brady Bunch-style family of seven – all seasoned travellers.