A Travellerspoint blog

days 7-9 of the jucy van Road trip

finding the wizard of OZ

Dreams do come true. ( day 7 )

Since I was just a little girl, Dolphins have won my heart. I could once claim them as my favourite, and although they still rank very high among the list, I have got to know some pretty amazing species since then to title only one as favourite. But for today, Dolphins reclaimed their moment in the top spot.
Today we got the privilege to swim with two bottle nose dolphins as well as a New Zealand fur seal. Of course this was a privilege in exchange for a fee, and a moderately sized salt water pool replaced the vast blue ocean; but that aside, we were able to have an intimate encounter with these adored creatures. Suited up in our wet suits, we slowly made our way into the frigid waters of the pool. We were welcomed by a senior female estimated to be about 24 years old. She was a beauty. The trainer gave us a very informative briefing about the bottle nose dolphins, signalling her to swim in front of us all exposing the areas of discussion. When he was explaining her fins she would swim along her side allowing us time to inspect her with our hands. We got to feel her from tongue to tail fin. Then, the best part of it all, we got to interact with her! We played catch, balanced the ball on her nose ( she was very good at this, like spinning a basketball on your finger) we got to feed her fish, watch her perform some of her favourite jumps and tricks, and got some memorable photo opps holding her in our arms and getting that adorable kiss on the cheek. Her daughter, only 4, also came to play and demonstrate for us, but they had to be weary with her around; mom liked all the spotlight and would chase her little girl away if she was getting to much attention.
With another trainer bringing the two beauties to the other end of the pool to play, they brought out the seal. She was just as brilliant, if not even more so. Her fur was unexpectedly soft, and we got some wet seal kisses on the nose. What an extraordinary experience! And at only 200 AUD, it’s definitely something in reach for most. My favourite part about the park is the fact that all the animals, apart from their recent offspring, are animals rescued and rehibilated on sight, but because of their certain injuries, were unable to return to the wild. So Pet Porpoise Pool only keeps those animals in captivity who depend on it for their very survival. Unlike many aquariums that actually catch perfectly fit wild animals for their exhibits. All in all, if ever in Coffs Harbour, make sure you visit the Pet Porpoise Pool and if it’s too costly to do the swim, you still get free dolphin and seal kisses when you just check out the show. And don’t forget to sign the petitions and drop a coin in the donation box on your way out; there’s many more magnificent animals out there that still need our help!
With all of that excitement over, it was time to hit the road again. We have another long drive ahead of us, but yet another exciting destination; surfers paradise. Surfer’s paradise is in the heart of the gold coast that kisses the Coral Sea. Beautiful white sandy beaches that stretch for what seems like an infinite distance; a very alive area and probably one of the top 3 vacation destinations in Australia. We arrived at our campsite just before sunset, 5:30 this time of year, and were still able to appreciate our lovely beach front camp site. We didn’t hang around long, for driving through the busy downtown area amped up our energy, so we decided to have dinner out. We drove to the heart of the area which was very much alive and had plenty to offer. After walking around for only just a bit, our hungry stomachs persuaded us to stop at an Irish pub for a meal. Dinner was ok, not exceptional, but that usually happens when you choose a place on a rumbling tummy, and since I can’t drink due to an annoying stomach ulcer, we didn’t hang around long. Like bugs around an outside light, we continued to follow the bright lights, and stopped where they were most bright. Infinity was a tourist attraction among the busy mall of restaurants and shops. A futuristic maze that leads you through rooms of infinite lights, mirrors, and illusions. It takes about 30 minutes to walk through, that is if you stop in each room for a few minutes each. I dragged along Rob who was very un enthused about it all, but within 5 minutes, I think he was having more fun than me. They give you white gloves and shoe socks to put on because in a couple rooms, your hands and feet are the only thing you can see. You rely on feeling your way through the maze of illusion for every way you look looks like a way out. One room had a floor made from a jumping pillow. This can be quite dangerous as Rob observed; he was having so much fun jumping around he jumped face first into the wall! Another great room was one where they have inflatable balls of all sizes where you get to bounce them into others, or take a roll. A fun little attraction indeed. But all the excitement of the morning definitely had our eyes as heavy as sand bags. Off to camp we went and enjoyed popping open the sunroof and sleeping under the stars.

Day 8

Instead of rushing to the beach to catch the sun rise, we were fortunate to be ocean side this morning so we woke up at our usual time of 6ish and popped open the hatch to watch the sunrise in bed. It was wonderful! Out of all the beautiful sights we’ve seen and exhilarating attractions we’ve done, this by far will be one of the top memories of the trip. It was just perfect lying in bed with a cup of coffee, watching the sun come up over the sea, from the back of our van.
When breakfast was finished, it was off to Dream World. In surfers paradise there are 3 different big theme parks to choose from, and with closing times of just 5pm, we only have time for one. SeaWorld, Movie Magic and dream world were our choices. After carefully reading up on each, we decided dream World was the best go. Hopefully we made the right choice.
Dream world has rides, a water park, and a wildlife exhibition. It’s too chilly for the water park bit, but adrenalin and wildlife sound like my kind of cocktail; and a potent cocktail it was! Although there weren’t many rides in the park, the few they had were decent. Ok, there were at least 3 that were more than decent, they were hide your face, make this stop, good. The big drop launches you straight up 120m and lets you free fall back down to the ground in 3.7 seconds. Don’t forget to wait for your stomach at the bottom! Then there’s the Tower of terror which rocket launches you up the same tower as the big drop then sends you flying backwards down the same track. This one gets you right in the begging and I found it to be the biggest adrenalin kick in the park. My third favourite was the motor cross coaster where you ride onto of motor cross bikes and it again launches you at lightning speed through the track. Although it’s a short track, it’s the launch that gives you the kick, and how cool is it to be on a motorcycle coaster?
The wildlife experience was pretty good as well. They had a superb tiger show with three giant Bengal tigers showing off some of their behaviours such as jumping, climbing and standing on their hind legs. They even took one of the beauties for a walk around the park where we got to get up close and give them a pat. The exhibit even offered a rare site in Australian wildlife, two red kangaroos mating. Ahh, the sound of confused children and embarrassed parents always makes me smile.
With it being mid winter the park was really quite so there were virtually no lines. We repeated all the good attractions and called it a day. Went back to the campsite and enjoyed some yummy dinner beside the sea.

Day 9

All this going is starting to get exhausting. I need a vacation from my vacation! But not today. This morning we’re heading to the Australia Zoo, home of the crocodile hunter. Steve Irwin is not only pretty much Australians national Icon, but he’s a huge inspiration. If you know more about what he’s achieved and what he was about, it’s hard not to admire him. And who can deny he was always a good laugh. But there was a serious side to Steve, he was a conservationist, and basically gave his life for his cause. If he could make people watch him, like his shows, like the wildlife on his shows, they would appreciate it all just a little bit more, and be just a little bit more educated, and that’s a huge step in conservation; education and appreciation. It was a privilege to be able to go to the zoo where it all started. This zoo was once just a reptile park owned by Irwin’s parents until eventually Steve and his well known wife Terri took over and turned it into the famous Australia Zoo. It’s also a rehabilitation area, and the finest zoo I’ve been to yet. It’s the best not because of its variety of animals, for infact it focuses mainly on Australian wildlife, but for its treatment of the animals. The enclosures are enormous! The elephants have 5 acres to roam, the tigers had several areas to explore and even the wombats had an enormous enclosure. Usually you leave a zoo feeling guilty about how miserable the animals must be cooped up for our enjoyment. Here, you leave feeling relieved there’s finally a zoo that got it right. For example, during one of their shows in the crocosium, they release different types of birds that fly back and forth through the stadium, even outside and around as there is no ceiling or netting keeping them in. If they wanted to, they could easily fly away to freedom, but they don’t. At the end of the demonstration they return to the keepers and back into their enclosures. This shows you how happy they must be, if they were unhappy at all, they wouldn’t think twice about flying off, birds are incredibly smart.
So the zoo was amazing and very interactive; we got to pet kangaroo (although we do this often) got to pet a koala (so soft and adorable!!) hand feed Asian elephants, watch some very informative very entertaining shows, AND we got to see the Irwin family. Bindi was doing a photo shoot with the red panda and by her side was mum and little brother Bobby. I was star struck I must admit. I was right in line with all the other 8 year olds trying to get a glimpse of Bindi. (Like I said, I idolise this family) This Zoo is an absolute must when in Australia, and they are expanding it even more. They were telling us about the cheetah enclosure that will actually be long enough for the cheetah to reach max speed AND slow down! A very big smile on my face arose when I heard that, for cheetahs can claim the number one spot on my favourite list.

Posted by amsie55 20:16

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