Golden Moments - GOLD COAST with 3 kids
Thinking about a mid-year getaway for your family?
OHbaby! Managing Director Angela Pedersen gives her verdict on the
Gold Coast as a destination for creating happy
Our friends thought we were mad. And I admit, I also questioned
if our plan to take three kids under six to the Gold Coast theme
parks, and return brighteyed and bushy tailed was just little
naive. But we pulled it off! Our holiday started off so nicely,
thanks to a friendly customs officer at Gold Coast Airport who told
us about the fun parks, pricing and range of passes. We stayed at
the wonderful Paradise Resort. They call it, "heaven for kids -
paradise for parents", and I agree! This place is perfectly set up
for families with prams, boogie boards and PlayStations for hire.
At Sinbad's buffet restaurant the kids can eat for as little as
AU$8. We certainly found the resort's convenience store lived up to
its name, especially when we ran out of baby supplies. And that's
not to mention the four pools, amazing adventure playground and the
Zone4Kids kids' club where the children were taken care of while
hubby and I got to kick back and relax. It was the perfect base for
our four-day visit where we fully immersed ourselves in the Gold
Coast experience, visiting the big theme parks - Sea World,
Dreamworld, WhiteWater World and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. We
also took time out to visit several fantastic playgrounds dotted
along the coastline. (Go to www.VisitGoldCoast.com for more) Our
goal was to have a holiday we'd long remember as a highlight of our
children's early years and we did. All it took was some careful
secrets to our success:
-The first and most important secret was to be flexible. This
trip was about the children and us having a great time together and
the more we saw our children having fun the happier we were! That's
not to say we didn't have tantrums or whiny moments, but we would
have had them at home too.
-Stick to your NZ body clock - as sad as it sounds, 4-5am was
our usual wake-up time in Australia. On the New Zealand clock
though the kids were waking up at a reasonable time, and in fact
actually sleeping in a little. The trick was to make sure we went
to bed early (7.30-8pm) so we all had a good eight-hour sleep. We
had breakfast as part of our package and the restaurant opened at
6.30am so we got the children up, bathed and dressed, then let them
watch a bit of kids' television until breakfast was served. It kept
us occupied and ready to face the day. The kids were usually hungry
as soon as they woke up so we fed them some crackers bought from
the convenience store to stave off their hunger until the
- Stay hydrated. While the theme parks ban bringing food and
drinks on site, they were selling sipper bottles with cheap refills
that you can use across their chain of theme parks.
- Take spare underwear, nappies, wipes and sunscreen in your day
- When you arrive at the theme park, take the map of the park
and circle all the restrooms. You'll want to know where they are -
- Map it out. Before we left for our trip I looked up all our
destinations on Google Maps. It gave me a good perspective on the
locations where we were heading, including the airport. I put
markers on each place we planned to visit, took a screen shot of
the full area, then small screen shots of each destination
including its address and pasted them on one sheet of paper that we
took everywhere. We used that to enter our destination address into
the hire car's GPS system. Hiring a car was great as it meant we
didn't have to arrange our schedules around public transport and,
if we needed to leave because the kids had reached the end of their
tether, we could.
- We hired a pram from the resort for our 20-month-old. This was
great because he was able to have his nap in the pram while the
older two were having fun on rides he would have been too young
for, so he didn't know what he was missing!
currumbin wildlife sanctuary
Cost: Family (two adults, two children) AU$99.
For more: www.cws.org.au
Our first port-of-call from the airport was Currumbin Wildlife
sanctuary which was en route to Paradise Resort. We walked around
viewing a range of native animals, birds, flora and fauna and the
kids loved the chance to touch and feed kangaroos. There was a
great playground and flying fox that the kids really enjoyed.
Highlight: You can pay to have your photo taken
with a koala. Although, as you can see in the photo over the page,
our eldest, Ella, wasn't too impressed that she was only allowed to
touch the koala and not actually hug it (understandably!).
Top tip: Hop aboard the train when you first
arrive so you get a good sense of the layout of the park and can
identify what animals you want to visit on foot.
Cost: Adults AU$74.99, children (aged three to 13),
Go to: seaworld.myfun.com.au
Sea World was wonderful, my three-yearold Eva is still
telling people how she saw the "bickie monster" (aka cookie
monster) in the Sesame Street zone. The magic of Sea
World is the animals and natural beauty. You can get up close
to dolphins, polar bears, stingrays, sharks, penguins,
sea lions and pelicans.
Highlights: The stand-out show was the
Imagine Dolphin show - such beautiful creatures
doing such amazing acrobatics!
Top tip: Hit the furthest away activities
first. There's a lot of walking.
Cost: One-day Family & Friends World Pass between
Dreamworld and WhiteWater World (two adults and two
children aged three to 13) AU$265. Q4U AU$10 plus $7.50 per
Go to: www.dreamworld.com.au
From the moment you walk through the gates you're in the
middle of a bustling town full of colourful buildings
and tempting shops. Our girls were besotted with the
fairytale treasures shop. There is no shortage of amusement
rides the little ones can enjoy. Ours loved the
SpongeBob Fly Pants ride, and driving in The Big Red Car in
Highlights: Dreamworld has thought of some
very clever ways to cater for families. From the "Q4U" scheme
where you can book rides in advance so you don't have
to wait in a long line with grouchy children. Then there's
Parent Swap where you get to the front of the line for
one of the Big Six thrill rides, tell the staff you'd like to
do a parent swap, and at the end of your ride swap
parenting duties and your partner is fast-tracked to
the front of the queue for his turn.
Top tip: Dedicate a whole day to ensure
you get the full Dreamworld experience.
Go to www.whitewaterworld.com.au
At WhiteWater World I stayed in Wiggles Bay with our two
youngest while my husband Royce took Ella off on
adventures around the Nickelodeon Pipeline plunge which had
lots of fun slides, and a big water bucket that
drenched the unsuspecting people below.
Highlights: Wiggle Bay was great for the
young ones. There were Wiggles characters spraying water, and
water slides of varying sizes. Parents need to wait at
the bottom of the slides to catch their little ones but there
are also lifeguards on duty.
Top tip: Dress yourself and the kids in
your togs before you go. Once they see the water, the kids
will want to dive straight in!