Australia March-April 2016 Trip Report, Part 5 - Gold Coast and Sea World

Hello everyone,

In my previous parts of this report I told you about our time in Sydney, our drive up the east coast towards Queensland, and our accomodation while in Gold Coast at Wallaby Ridge Retreat. Now in this part of my Australia trip report, I am going to share with you our adventures on the Gold Coast and at Sea World.

Gold Coast is a beautiful, sprawling beachfront metropolis that stretches for miles along the golden white sands at the southern end of Queensland.

The main downtown core area of Gold Coast, also known as Surfers Paradise, is the central hub of the area, filled with bars, shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. It's very modern, clean, friendly, and easy to get around on foot and by car.

There are some quirky things in and around the streets of Surfers Paradise, including large, themed koalas, and tables and benches shaped like surfboards!

Dining in Surfers Paradise was relatively easy for us - by now you should be fully aware of our ongoing pursuit to find decent, healthy vegetarian options while travelling! As I have said in the previous parts of this report, Australia makes it so easy for vegetarians, and Surfers Paradise was no exception.

One place in particular that we ended up at was a Chinese restaurant called Beijing Palace, near the Robina Town Centre mall. We actually found ourselves here after driving around for a while trying to find somewhere that was open! I have said in previous parts of this report, operating hours in Australia can be a little strange to those not accustomed to them! Odd hours aside, Beijing Palace was a nice place, and even had a resident magician that performed tricks at your table!

I mentioned above Robina Town Centre mall. While this was just really another mall, it was a nice mall, but again with the weird hours! We stopped by for a coffee at around 4.15pm one day, and as we sat there drinking our drink, things were closing down around us. By the time we had finished our coffees, the mall was completely closed! Before 5pm in a tourist hotspot! The iced coffee was cute though...

Another place in Surfers Paradise that we tried was Govinda's Vegetarian and Vegan buffet (see, I told you they make it easy for vegetarians!). This small, local place was well presented, friendly and had a good selection of food.

Vapiano is a chain restaurant, with a location on one of the upper levels in the central core of Surfers Paradise. We had lunch here, and it was an interesting experience. They make everything to order in front of you at the counter, then you eat, then you pay when you leave. It wasn't bad at all.

Whilst we are talking about dining, I want to mention McDonald's. I have continually mentioned our great experiences with dining Down Under, and McDonald's really was no exception. This might sound odd, and surprising, especially since we are vegetarian, but McDonald's in Australia is exactly how fast food should be. It is quality, healthy, tasty food at affordable prices. The McDonald's restaurants in Australia have self service create-your-own kiosks that have a tremendous amount of options (a concept that I heard is actually being planned for the US eventually, but probably not the same quality!). To top it all, they bring your food out to you at your table, and it comes on a wooden board, with the fries in a little basket. It's simply incredible to experience the difference in the service and attention to detail. Even if the US gets the create-your-own concept, I doubt we can expect table service any time soon.

A little south of the main Gold Coast area, in a place called Burleigh Heads, we visited the Jellurgal Cultural Centre. With our trip being a real whirlwind tour of the east coast, and being our first time to Australia, we didn't get the time I wanted to really explore deeper into Aborigine culture, but our visit to the Jellurgal Cultural Centre was worth it. I managed to get a locally hand crafted boomerang there, which made me happy (as opposed to the machine made ones they sell in all the souvenir stores).

We took a walk along the coast at Burleigh Heads, and met a large lizard along the way!

On the border of New South Wales and Queensland sits the town of Coolangatta. Coolangatta has a memorial to the great explorer, Captain Cook, which lies on the border between the two states. The memorial itself was kind of ugly, in my opinion, but I thought it was neat to stand on the line between the two states. There was also another of the koala statues that seem to populate the entire region.

While I am not a fan of zoos and animal captivity - especially for the purposes of entertainment - we did end up at Sea World on the Gold Coast. It should be noted first of all that Sea World here is a different company from SeaWorld in the US. The reason we ended up here was that we had planned on visiting Warner Brothers Movie World on the Gold Coast, and when I looked up the tickets online, I could get a multi-day tourist pass that included Sea World, for the same price as a one day admission at the gate of Movie World. I knew that Sea World featured the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and so given that admission was effectively free with the Movie World ticket, we went to the park for a couple of hours to check it out. We really didn't spend long there. We walked through some of the enclosures, met some Nickelodeon characters, met the TMNT and saw their little show, and was done shortly after lunchtime. I have to say that my reservations about visiting were reinforced, as I didn't really like the size of the enclosures, and I didn't feel the animals looked happy there. I am glad that it cost me no more than the originally planned Movie World admission, because I did feel a little bad.

That's it for this part of my report! In the next part I will share with you our day at Warner Brothers Movie World on the Gold Coast.

Have a great day everyone,