Gold Coast (Part 1)

Trip Start Jan 07, 2006
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Trip End Mar 02, 2006


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Wednesday, February 1, 2006

G'day. We have been in Oz for 3 days now. It is HOT! Leaving New Zealand all 6 of us had to get up at 03:00 to be picked up by 04:00 for the flight which left at 07:00. It's a 3 hour flight and the time zone is 3 hours earlier so we arrived around 07:00 at the Gold Coast airport in Coolangatta. We were so early that the rent-a-car guy hadn't arrived yet so we took a cab to The Hill Apartments which wasn't open either. It all got sorted and we are in a nice 2 bedroom apartment with a view to die for. There are 72 apartments in the complex, about half are rented out and the other half permanent residents (www.hillapartments.com.au). It is built into a hill and there are exactly 100 stair steps from the bottom to our apartment. The swimming pool is right outside our door, it has a BBQ grill and eating area for guests nearby. The 2 bedroom apartment has TV (just as lousy as Canadian), 2 bathrooms, washer and dryer, fridge, phone, underground parking and nice Managers (Rob and Maggie Prew). But next time we'll certainly pay the extra $150 for air conditioning.
We have a Ford Falcon station wagon as our rental and it's perfect for the 6 of us.
Leslie, Andrew and the boys left yesterday for Brisbane and Noosa which is 2 hours or three north. They will be back on Friday then are leaving for NZ next Monday.

The Gold Coast is a conglomerate of dozens of little municipalities which stretch from Coolangatta to South Stradbroke Island going north along the coast and about 20 km inland. The most famous part is Surfers Paradise.
We are in a town called Currumbin. The whole area is home to about a half million people. About 2 million visit each year.

We have been out and about a fair amount. What a beautiful resort area. Lots of malls for cooling off. Merilynn's favorite is the Pacific Fair mall near Surfers Paradise.
Walking distance from The Hill are surfing beaches, Currumbin Creek with milder waves, a wildlife sanctuary, roadside cafes, and a Surf and Life Saving Club (SLSC) where you can have a drink with a picture postcard view.

The best places to eat are the clubs: SLSC, RSL (Returning Servicemen's League) and various sports clubs. They all have great locations, good food at reasonable prices, drinks for less than pubs and some even have minimal dress codes. The reason they can offer deals is that they make their money from the "pokies" which are VLTs. Except that they get to keep most of the money. The cost of food and booze is about the same when you take into account the exchange rate ($A = .85 to .90 CDN), the GST (10%) is included in the price and there is NO tipping. Actually I think eating out costs less than at home.

We'll have to learn to make peace with the heat (or is it the humidity?). As one waiter said "we have two temperatures here, hot and hotter". Merilynn and I bought hats to keep the sun off our albino skin. They have a saying here: slip, slop and slap: slip on a shirt, slop on the sunscreen, and slap on a hat.

Jan. 31 - Leslie's crew take off for Brisbane where the boys will stay with their cousins at Aunty Di's house and Leslie and Andrew travel on to Noosa. We ate at the SLSC in Coolangatta for a change. Nice view of course.

Feb. 2 - Tried BBQing at The Hill. See the photo of the water dragon watching me cook.

Friday, Feb.3. Leslie, Andrew, Sheldon and Chandler arrived back at 4:00 PM today. It is also the day that the main body of Bob's golfers arrived. There was a gathering for wine and beer and get aquatinted near the BBQ area. Later the 6 of us went for pizza.

Feb. 6 - Leslie and the gang head back to NZ in the morning. Super Bowl Sunday in Australia is on Monday.

Tues. Feb 7 - It's cooled off a bit as it's been raining. We took the train from Robina station up to Brisbane.
Wed. went to pub at Tumbulgum where you pick out your steak and cook it yourself.

Thurs. Byron Bay; dinner at Kingscliff.


Feb. 11 - Went to Wildlife Sanctuary and saw animals and birds of Oz. Good. Met neighbors from Hill apartments there - Millard and Marge Blackburn - wound up going out for dinner with them to a nice Thai restaurant.

Feb. 14 - Went to Noosa on the Sunshine Coast about 4 hours north of Currumbin.

Feb. 17 - The Ford station wagon was a bit of a lumber wagon so i arranged with Darryl from Gold Coast Family Car Rental to swap for a Mitsubishi Magna. It's more like a Camry. Took a trip up to Surfers Paradise. Miles of beaches and hundreds of people wading, swimming, surfing, beach volleyball, cricket, sun bathing, hangin' out. Watched some young kids getting surfing lessons. It's like hockey practice where you have stops and starts, skate laps and other drills before you actually get to surf in the water. Proud parents watch and suggest.

Feb. 18 - Went to "Opera in the Park". At a beach park near Surfers Paradise, they set up a stage where opera stars sang numbers from classical operas and musicals like Grease and Chicago and Mama Mia. You take your food, lawn chairs, wine or beer, and picnic on the grass while you are entertained. There were about 5,000 of us! This lasted for about 2 hours. About half way through, the lorikeets all came home to roost and provided background music for the performers. At the conclusion, there was a fireworks display that was better than July 1st in Edmonton. What a magical evening.

Feb. 19 - B&B showed us around area north of Surfers. Ate at a nice restaurant in Mirage Marina.

Feb. 20 - All the B&B entourage went for a boat ride to South Stradbroke Island and to ultra riche Sanctuary Cove.

Feb. 22 - Toured Tamborine Mountain. Had lunch with the lorikeets.

Feb. 24 - Met up with Denice (friend of Bob and Beth's) and she and Merilynn went shopping for an opal at Harbour Front Mall. The three of us went to the Runaway Bay Yacht Club for dinner (la-de-da).

Feb. 26 - Barefoot Bowls. Bob arranged for bowls lessons and a game at the Kingscliff Bowls Club. It's sort of like curling on the grass. Very popular in Oz. Once again, the club is right on the ocean and is financed via the pokies. Went for Chinese food that night at Twin Towers Club with Marge and Millard and Marge's brother Jim from Sydney.

Feb. 28 - It's been raining the past few days. It's cooled off nicely. We went up to Surfers Paradise and toured the big Casino and rode the monorail which travels from the casino to the shopping mall and back.

Mar. 1 - Leaving today but not until 11:30 PM. Checked out at 10:30 AM, said goodbye to Maggie Prew (the Manager of The Hill) and drove to Robina Mall for lunch and to see "Walk the Line" to kill time in air conditioning. We met up with Bob and Beth around 5:00 PM and they drove us to Brisbaner to catch our flight. Stopped of at a seafood place at Manly near Brisbane for the Last Supper.

Mar. 2 - What a grueling return journey home. We couldn't get a bed in Singapore at that Premium Plaza place - a travellers stopover mini-hotel in the Singapore Airport. They were all taken so it makes you wonder how many they actually have since it was like 5:30 in the morning. So we opted for a shower which was luke-warm at best.

But all the flights left on time and arrived earlier than scheduled and I watched 5 movies and some Australian and British TV shows and we both cat-napped as best we could. And the food was really good for airplane food. It was just a long time to be on the road.

We arrived home in Edmonton around 5:00 PM. It has snowed some. Air Canada lost our luggage. Happily, Jack and Jean brought us home from the airport and thoughtfully Jean made some lasagna for us to heat up for dinner and bought us some milk and lettuce and fruit to tide us over. Three of our 4 bags were delivered at 9:00 PM that night and the last one at 1:00 PM today. We went to bed about 9:30 last night and I slept until noon and Merilynn 'till 10:30 AM.

Mar. 3 - I shovelled the driveway this morning.
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