We love visiting ‘big things’ when we can and on the day we left Tin Can Bay we were able to squeeze in a visit to not one but two. The Big Pineapple near Nambour and Matilda just south of Gympie. Some people may recognise Matilda as the winking kangaroo from the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth games. She is now behind a large roadhouse. Her head still moves from side to side but we didn’t manage to get a wink.
A few days before setting off we had received a message via Facebook from Dave, an old school friend, saying that he was on the Gold Coast if we needed a place to stay and wanted to look him up. This happened literally on the day when we started to wonder where the heck we were going to stay over the next few days and was an absolute blessing. It really is funny how things seem to fall in to place.
We were a little disappointed to miss The Sunshine Coast in our haste but this was made a little easier in the knowledge that we were lucky enough to spend some time here in 2008. This area really is gorgeous and it is such a shame not to be able to write about it here.
Before reaching The Gold Coast we had an overnight stay at the Caboolture Showgrounds ($20) and from here we paid a flying visit to Bribie Island. We also did the tourist drive around the beautiful Deception Bay and stopped at Redcliffe for some lunch and a play on the playground. It was here that Paul decided to unhitch the electrical connection to the caravan so as not to drain the battery. Now, it would have been really handy – particularly for other drivers, had he remembered to reconnect it. Turns out we drove through the city of Brisbane and up to Mt Coot-tha with no lights, indicators or electric brakes!
When we pushed on to Brisbane we were surprised when the kids started recognising landmarks from our previous visit. We didn’t have a lot of time to hang around the city so headed up to Mt. Coot-tha, where we had been invited to the Channel Seven studios for a visit. We arrived a little early and so enjoyed a cup of coffee at the top of the mountain overlooking the very pretty city of Brisbane.
We then headed to a picnic area adjacent to the studios where we watched the news chopper take off and had a family handball championship in the car park. About 5 pm we were met by Anthony, the very cool cameraman that had visited us in Mackay for the Today Tonight story. He gave us a tour of the station and introduced us to lots of very busy looking people. The kids took turns pretending to read the news from the teleprompter and having a go at driving the TV cameras. It was a lot of fun, we met lots of lovely people, had a look at what goes on behind the scenes and then were fortunate enough to be allowed to sit in the studio for that evenings live news broadcast. Awesome!
The next couple of nights were spent at Dave’s place where we were able to park Stanley out the front and actually sleep inside a house! It was great to hear some of Dave’s stories of what he has been up to since high school and he very generously opened his house to us and for that we are eternally grateful. Unfortunately his own family were away overseas at the time but we do look forward to catching up with them next time they visit Perth.
We had promised the kids that we would visit one theme park while we were in The Gold Coast and we had all originally decided to revisit Movieworld, which was one of our favourites from our previous visit (along with Australia Zoo which is further north up the coast and somewhere we would love to get back to one day) but some people we had met in Mackay gave us cheap passes to Dreamworld. So Dreamworld it was!
We arrived at the park as it opened and before we knew it, it was closing time!! We spent the day squishing in as much as possible including visiting the resident tigers and going on every possible ride – except the scary looking ones, Paul had to do those solo.
Before leaving The Gold Coast, Dave had one last treat for us. We headed down to Coomera River where the kids experienced another first. Dave took them for a spin on his jet-ski and they all had a turn being towed behind the ski on a doughnut. It took ages for the grins on their faces to disappear!
The big day at Dreamworld and the jet skis must have worn the kids out because they all snoozed in the car as we headed towards Springbrook National Park which was just as well because the road up to the park was a little hairy! It was very windey, with steep drop offs and in a few places it narrowed down to only one lane. Paul’s knuckles were a bit white and I am glad that he was the one driving, not me.
Springbrook National Park is just beautiful. There is one camping ground available, called The Settlement, with 11 sites in all. The family overnight fee was $21.30 and we did our booking online, more information can be found here.
We did the Purling Brook Falls Circuit which was fantastic. The walk leaves from the Purling Brook Falls lookout and includes walking down 450 steps through thick rainforest. The falls themselves were absolutely spectacular with the highlight being able to actually walk behind the falls.
While out and about in the national park we also checked out a stand of ancient Antarctic Beech Trees, some of which are thought to be around 3000 years old!
Another reason that we had headed up to Springbrook was to go on a glow-worm tour. Springbrook Glow Worms and Research Centre runs nightly tours to their glow-worm colony. If your timing is right you can visit a firefly breeding ground (we were too late by a week) and also check out some luminous fungi. The tour took just over an hour and the family price was $30. It was a bit of fun and provided the weeks science lesson. One of my favourite parts was learning how the property owner literally stumbled upon the glow-worm colony. I won’t retell the story, if you are in the area you can find out for yourself.
Well, as we packed up ready to move on we realised that this was the day that after a glorious three months we would finally be leaving Queensland. Our time in this state had provided us with many memories to treasure for years to come but we were definitely ready to start our NSW experience.