First Downunder Holiday for Baby Kingsley – Brisbane Gold Coast
Although it has been less than a year since our last holiday to Australia, Ashley has been asking us when would we be able to bring her for another holiday to Australia. I must be honest that I would not be that enthusiastic in planning yet another holiday to Australia that soon upon considering the long 8 hour flight with a baby and a child in tow. However, such thoughts do not taunt us for long as Colin and I quickly got down to plan a week long holiday to Brisbane and Gold Coast as the thought of spending quality time with the little ones outweighs all hesitation and uncertainty. From our past experiences travelling with Ashley, we noticed that red eye flights were the best for the little ones as the timing would coincide with their bedtime and hopefully, they would be able to sleep through the bulk of the flight time. This holiday was no exception as we selected the 8.45pm outbound flight and boy were we glad that Kingsley slept through at least half of the journey in the bassinet or in our arms.
As I was planning the itinerary for the trip, I decided against accommodation hopping given that (1) the holiday was only going to be 7 days and (2) majority of the attractions being nested within an hour’s ride from Gold Coast. Next question that might pop up in one’s mind is, “Where is the best place to stay in Gold Coast then?” I believe Surfers Paradise is no stranger to many and some may reply, “Where better to stay in Gold Coast other than Surfers Paradise?” I would definitely agree to that statement as F&B outlets are aplenty in that area. However, budget wise, accommodation in Surfers Paradise are generally pricier given the prime location and since I needed a 2-bedroom apartment with proper laundry and kitchen facilities, it made sense for me to source outside of Surfers Paradise. If you have chanced upon our earlier post on our holiday to Sydney 2 years ago, you might have heard the name Meriton Suites. Given our good experience staying with them, it was no hesitation for us to return to another Meriton Suites for our holiday. There are 2 Meriton Suites located along the Indian Ocean in Gold Coast, of which they are situated at Broadbeach and Southport. As we were planning to drive around as usual, we decided on the Meriton Suites Southport for our week long stay for the following reasons; (1) there is a Woolsworth located in the same building which makes it convenient for marketing and (2) competitive pricing as compared to Meriton Suites Broadbeach while still offering a beautiful view of the Indian Ocean. Even if you do not rent a car in Gold Coast, it is relatively easy to commute around the Gold Coast city street scape with the G:link Gold Coast Light Rail network.
Here are some photos of our 2 bedroom ocean suite at Meriton Suites Southport.
As per our usual downunder holiday, we would take it easy on the first day and get sufficient rest after the red eye flight. As Meriton Suites Southport is conveniently located near shopping malls within 10-15 minutes drive, we headed out to the Pacific Fair Shopping Centre, a one stop location for big brands such as David Jones, Myers, Target, Big W and Kmart during our wait for our suite to be ready. On the first night of our holiday, we ventured to Daichi by Ten at Broadbeach for dinner. I must say Daichi by Ten is a little gem that we uncovered by chance as our original intention was to dine at Ten Japanese Restaurant but due to overbooking, we decided to give a try at this small Japanese cafe and we were pleasantly surprised by the food quality. If you are a big fan of sashimi, you would love the sashimi here as it is really fresh.
Fully recharged on the second day, we headed up to Newstead House in Brisbane which is an hour’s drive from Gold Coast. If you are a fan of historic sites, you can consider visiting Brisbane’s oldest surviving residence which now operates as a living museum. As Colin and the kids are not so much of history buffs like me, we decided to give the visit a miss. Next, we drove up to Mount Coot-tha lookout which allows you to view the Brisbane cityscape. There is a restaurant and cafe situated at the lookout for visitors who want to enjoy the scenery while having their meal. After filling our stomachs, we went for a leisurely trek to JC Slaughter Falls which turned out to be a slight disappointment as the water at the falls has dried up at the falls. Nevertheless, this was a good experience as this was our first short trek of our trip in which I baby-carried Kingsley in this cooling weather. If there is anything to complain of autumn and winter in Australia, it would be the short daylight hours (But hey! It is the same in all countries with 4 seasons). By the time we reached Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, the sun has set. However, the planetarium does operate even after sunset so fret not. However, if you have young kids with you, you might want to consider visiting during daytime of the weekends where they will have shows suitable for the young. As it was kinda a last minute visit for us, we did not coincide with those screening but there were still free exhibits for viewing which is of interest as we introduced Ashley to the different planets beyond earth which has recently been taught in school.
As our third day fell on a weekend, we thought where is best for us to visit other than wineries given that our previous experiences had resulted in us missing some of the wineries as their cafes and restaurants were not operating on weekdays. As Brisbane and Gold Coast are not really known for their wineries, there is no specific place like Hunter Valley in Perth or Barossa Valley in Adelaide to head up. Instead, we decided to visit Mount Tamborine, the go-to place in Gold Coast with several attractions for one to visit. Our first stop was Witches Falls Winery which we stopped by for less than 10 minutes due to the heavy rain and winery being jam-packed with people. Hence, we headed on to Cedar Creek Estate which has a restaurant on site and a place for us to have lunch in comfort. The food at Cedar Creek Estate is pretty decent but if we were to compare it to our experience at Voyager Estate in Perth, it still fell short in terms of food and wine quality. A good thing about Cedar Creek Winery and Restaurant is that the Glow Worm Cave is housed on the same site and one could just go for a short glow worm caves tour after lunch. As autumn weather is best for trekking without perspiration, we went for a trek to Curtis Falls (a true falls with water!). If you love to walk around small towns, there are cafes and souvenir shops along Mount Tamborine which you can have a coffee, do some fudge tasting and some souvenir shopping.
Another popular attraction spot in Gold Coast is Byron Bay which was listed on our itinerary for the 4th day of our holiday. As it was a Sunday, our decision to stop by Surfers Paradise for breakfast was shelved as parking was a nightmare and we headed straight to the first destination of the day; Tropical Fruit World. If you do not have anything to plan for the day, you can actually spend the entire day there as they do offer full day activities in the park. As we already had plans that day, we only had a stopover for lunch and quick shopping. After lunch, we drove on to Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens, which is said to be home of the biggest and most beautiful crystals in the world. It was a relaxing visit as the location is up in the mountains and it was cooling to walk around the attraction after the rain. There were amazing exhibits of which includes the 5.5 meters tall Crystal Guardians located right at the entrance to the cafe that blew us away. One could easily spend up to 3-4 hours at this location if you want to take a leisurely walk to view the displays. Not surprisingly, we had no time to make it down to Byron Bay Lighthouse before sunset. Nevertheless, we did managed to make a quick detour to Stone and Wood Brewery for a beer platter tasting. For beer lovers, it is worth a visit as the beer platter cost a mere $15 for tasting.
After 2 days out in the suburbs, we made our 5th day a shopping day where we made our visits to Superbee Honey World and Harbour Town Outlet Shopping Centre. For visitors who are keen in watching the bee show, Superbee Honey World is the place for you. However, you might want to make the visit before the weekend as we found that many of our honey flavors we liked were out of stock due to the weekend crowd clearing out the popular honey flavors. Harbour Town Outlet Shopping Centre is a haven for shopping buffs and houses good deals for brands such as Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Coach and many more. As this was our 2nd last night in Gold Coast, we kept our promise to Ashley and brought her down to the beach to build sandcastles after sunset. It was a unique experience building sandcastles on a rainy night as the beachfront at Surfer’s Paradise is well-lit even at night.
If one say that they have been to Gold Coast, people would ask, “Did you visit any of the worlds?” Therefore, how can we round up our holiday without visiting any of the worlds and as promised, we brought Ashley to Dreamworld to visit her favorite ABC Kids’ characters such as Hootabelle, Bananas in Pyjamas and Dorothy the Dinosaur. You will not imagine the impact these characters have on Ashley as we spent 70% of our time in ABC Kids World out of the other areas in Dreamworld. However, I find that there is a lack of interesting rides for the children and the highlight ride of Dreamworld would still be Tower of Terror that has been there for decades. Regardless, if your kids are into photo-taking with TV and movie cartoon characters, this would be the perfect place for them as there are several meet and greet sessions for the characters throughout the park operating hours.
Although this was a relatively short holiday to the downunder as compared to our earlier visits to Adelaide, Sydney and Perth, it was an enriching and challenging experience travelling with Baby Kingsley this time round and we were glad that this little one loves the cooling weather and was on his best behaviour throughout the trip with occasional fussing that were easily calmed with milk, food and naps. With this experience, we will look forward to planning subsequent longer road trips as he grows up and we cannot wait to visit more parts of the world with our 2 bundle of joys, Ashley and Kingsley.