Soak up some short-stay fun

Written by Kerrie Alexander

If you’re keen to take the family on a weekend away but don’t want to travel too far from home, then the Sunshine Coast is a fantastic option.

We had three days for a quick getaway with a one-year-old birthday party in Gympie booked in on the way home, so our little getaway was short, but awesome.

We went from Friday to Sunday, leaving Hervey Bay bright and early to reach the Golden Nugget on the other side of Gympie just in time for breakfast.

The food stop has become a family tradition, plus their bacon and eggs are simply the best!

It was just the fuel we needed for a full day at Australia Zoo in Beerwah, where my nine-year-old son Seth was pumped to see elephants for the first time in real life.

What started as a two-acre reptile park owned and run by the legendary Steve Irwin’s family, now encompasses over 700 acres, and employs over 500 staff.

Ensuring Steve’s mission of “Conservation Through Exciting Education” is apparent on entry with information signs everywhere at about the animals, emphasis on recycling, conservation projects, crocodile research and the Wildlife Warriors animal rehabilitation centre.

All that certainly wasn’t of interest to Seth, though. He was busily searching the park map for what to see first.

Robert’s Reptile House was first on the list only because Dad has a phobia of snakes, and there’s many. Seth thought it was hilarious to see Dad squirm but at the same time he did take an interest in the fact sheets provided.

Next was the elephants and they were amazing! We were lucky enough to have arrived at a time when they were standing right in front of the gate. Seth was in awe of their size and the way they maneuverer their trunks to eat (plus the size of their poop!) It was no doubt the highlight of the day!
I also enjoyed the African Safari Park that is home to zebra, giraffe, meerkats, cheetah, and rhino.
We saw crocodiles, koalas, turtles, an array of birds, emu, and much more.

The shuttle train didn’t come by, so we walked all the way around the park on this trip, so it was nice to grab a bite to eat from the café and sit down and watch the Wildlife Warriors show with Bob Irwin and Bindi’s husband Chandler Powell.

Seth got a kick out of seeing the crocs jump for food out of Robert’s hands and the well-trained eagle that stole a $10 note from a tourist’s hand was also a good laugh.

All in all, a visit to the zoo is highly recommended especially as it’s only about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Hervey Bay.

After a well-deserved rest at my brother’s home in Morayfield, my husband and I left Seth with the fam bam the next day and ventured off for a day at Mount Tamborine with the intention of visiting the breweries.

The drive in “the back way” was a fantastic mistake because you had a 360-degree view of the Gold Coast while winding your way up the mountain. It was breath taking!

It was a little bit too early for the wineries and distilleries (we got there quicker than planned) so if that’s an experience you’re after, be sure to head there after 10am.

Instead, we ambled our way down the main street, coffee in hand, where we discovered the insane Cuckoo Clock shop that was home to thousands of Grandfather clocks, small and large. It was a sight to see, and I highly recommend a visit.

We walked the “Gallery Walk” and tested samples of delicious beef jerky, hand-made chocolates, fudge, boiled lollies, and ice-cream, and marvelled at the artworks and craft creations of the Tamborine locals.

There’s so much to do in this quaint little town and I hope to go back again to visit the Glow Worm Caves, experience the winery tours and do the treetop walks.

The goal of the glow worm cave and the glow worm tours through the purpose-built caves is to make an experience which is accessible for families, while benefiting wild glow worm populations.
It will be on the agenda for next time.

Full and content we left Mount Tamborine and headed to the Gold Coast for a night at the Star Casino. I left booking a room at a beach front high rise too late and there was no availability. Still, it was a great location being just a short drive from Cavill Ave.

I was disappointed to see the Hard Rock Café now gone but the shopping precinct and bars and café still had that vibrant Gold Coast vibe.

The iconic holiday destination has shimmering high rises, epic surf and about 52km of pristine beaches. It’s also the home of Seth’s favourite Sea World Resort, Paradise Country, Movie World, Dream World and Wet and Wild, and The Outback Spectacular, all of which we have visited previously. For the kids who just love their superheroes, Movie World is a must see.

Travel agencies offer travel specials regularly by email so it’s worth signing up for their newsletter. We once had a seven-night stay for the three of us at Seaworld for $999 through Luxury Escapes.
Ripley’s Believe or Not, the Paradise Centre kids fun centre and shooting range, and the Sling Shot are also some favourite attractions in the city heart.

Dinner at the casino’s Italian restaurant was just amazing and reasonably priced. The room was small for the price, but it did the job for a one-night stay.

The next day it was time for home and the birthday party.

It was a short but very sweet two days away.