Craig & I decided (well I decided!) mid last year, that the weather in Melbourne is too unpredictable for a nice warm holiday for the Christmas/ New Year break. We have spent plenty of New Years Eve’s shivering on the Great Ocean Road so this year we decided we would hit the road for the all Australian road trip!! I can feel some of you cringing with the thought of an east coast road trip from Melbourne to the Gold Coast with three young kids! Not only did we do a road trip but we also camped, to save money, that we could spend on giving the kids some awesome experiences, more about that later. So Boxing Day 2013 we head off for the first leg to Sydney. With the car packed to the rafters and the house marginally tidy, after having Christmas Day at our house, we were all really excited to be heading north. We arrived in Sydney at 7pm to stay a night with my uncle & catch up with my cousins. Bright & early the next morning the road trip continued to Port Macquarie. Planning for a road trip within Australia will need careful consideration, the pure size of the country and distances covered makes it different to many other road trips.
We stopped for 6 nights at the Big 4 Sundowner Breakwall Holiday Park on the foreshore at Port Macquarie. We had booked the last site and whilst it was unpowered & tucked in down the very back of the park, it actually turned out to be fantastic. We met a lovely group of friends from Sydney & once the kids were in bed we got to join their group of a few drinks. One of the couples in the group had two kids similar to our kids ages, they made friends & kept each other amused. The holiday park has a swimming pool, tennis courts and plenty of walking paths into town. Its a lovely walk along the Breakwall & there always seemed plenty of people around.
This was our relaxing week before hitting the theme parks in Queensland & that’s pretty much what we did. A friend of mine is a born & bred Port gal & she was in town to give as a tour. The rest of the time was spent swimming & relaxing. We spent New Years Eve there and lets say not much was accomplished on New Years Day! As we had booked an unpowered site (much to my husbands disgust) the 6 nights, with Big 4 member discount cost $480! Pretty good as we were there from Dec 27- Jan 2. The park was busy but I still found the amenities to be clean even though they were pretty out-dated. There were laundry facilities, best time to use them was early in the morning. I did my washing at my friends house.
Soon enough Jan 2 arrived, pack up day, we started the night before & only had a little bit to do the next morning. We said good bye to our new friends & made sure we found them on Facebook before leaving. Then off we drove for the 6 hour drive to the Gold Coast. Six hours! Yeah right….! It was a horrid drive. It pushed out to 8 hours & then we had to set up camp again. Oh the joys!
We stayed at the Big 4 Gold Coast Holiday Park located in Helensvale about 15mins from the Surfers Paradise & right across the Motorway from Wet N Wild & Movieworld. You could walk to Movieworld from the Holiday Park, we chose not to as it was 42 degrees. We had a powered site & once again the park was full & our site was down the back of the park & we had plenty of room around us. The sites were enormous & whilst the sun was up bright & early the rest of the park were quiet & respectful. The park had an amazing pool area with cabana’s, waterslide, spa & kiddies pool, not to mention the café & bar attached to the pool area. So here I am, in my cabana lounging by the pool with a beer in a caravan park – now that’s the life!!
Now I know I’m banging on about this wonderful caravan park but it had some extras that were really great for the kids. For example the playground, jumping pillow, kids movie night screening in the playground each night during January & hobby farm with farm animals. We weren’t at the park often as we were doing the themes park but the 2 afternoons we were there the staff came round in the afternoon with free icy poles for all the kids as the weather was really hot, now that’s a nice touch. They also had free sausage sizzle nights on Tuesdays and free pancakes on Sunday mornings.
The amenities block has just been renovated & OMG it was just a treat, it had only been open for 2 weeks before we arrived. When you walk into the amenities block theres a whooping big tropical fish tank with its very own Nemo! The kids would go & check it out at least once a day & it provided some entertainment if you happened to be waiting for the cleaners to finish at one of the three times a day the amenities were cleaned. The showers were brilliant, spacious enough for me to have all 3 kids in there and be able to swing a cat as well. There was a glass door between the shower & dressing area which ensured everything from clothes & towels didn’t get wet. My pet hate in most caravan parks is the shower block but this one was a treat. Also recently renovated was the camp kitchen, it was open & large with plenty of room for many people. A good meeting place for travellers with a flat screen TV to catch up on the news.
We purchased VIP Passes that gave us access to Wet N Wild, SeaWorld & MovieWorld until the end of June for $109 for adults & $89 for kids. This was great value as we visited both Wet N Wild & MovieWorld twice over the 6 days we were there.
First day, we hit Wet N Wild. Arrived to a massive queue. After an hour wait we headed straight to Buccaneer Bay. As it was 42 degrees we found a place were we could sit & watch the kids with a little bit of shade. We weren’t lucky enough to snag a table with chairs so towels on the floor under a tree had to do. We got chatting to the people next to us who were locals & gladly informed us that the park actually opens at 9am during holidays but they don’t advertise it. Always great to get some insider info! The next day was also 42 degrees & seeing as we were staying just across the road we headed back for the day & this time got pole position with a table & chairs in the shade all day!! Craig’s big into the rides so he & the kids went off & did all the rides & I stayed with our stuff (I’m not keen on rides that spin). Caelan & Keira were a bit small for a lot of the rides but there was plenty that they could go on & as it was so hot it was the best place to be. Food is pretty expensive so we took sandwiches & snacks & a couple of bottles of water, this allowed us to spend money on drinks & ice poles throughout the day.
Next on the list was SeaWorld. Up early again & suspecting it might open early we head off very early. Only to be the first people in the car park. Pole position park & first in the gate!! Yay!! The day was a bit overcast & we had a couple of sprinkles of rain but still muggy & warm & it didn’t ruin our day.
The Storm Coaster had only opened a couple of weeks earlier & we got there with only a few in front of us in the queue. Craig & the girls were going to brave it whilst Caelan & I braved the Viking’s Revenge, that’s the extent of my bravery! After a 10 minute wait it was announced that there was an issue with the Storm Coaster & it would not be running in the foreseeable future. The girls were pretty disappointed but Craig was shattered!!
For Christmas our present to the kids was a swim with the dolphins. Keira had just scrapped in height wise as I had been measuring her for 3 months hoping she would grow & she made it just before Christmas. Caelan was about 3cms too short which was rather disappointing. It cost me a bomb & as you will see from the photos it was worth every cent of it. It cost $120 per child but the girls didn’t stop smiling the whole time & I took about 300 photos. Alannah asked about 50 questions & Keira was in her element as she loves animals. She continually watches the DVD of the experience which of course cost me an extra $20!
We noticed after the dolphin swim that the Storm Coaster had open so we returned & waited in line for an hour they finally had their go, both the girls thought it was pretty scary. We saw the jet ski stunt show & the dolphin show both of which Caelan thought were brilliant. Henry the baby polar bear was very playful & Caelan also enjoyed seeing him, the girls loved Shark Bay were they were able to touch some of the ocean animals. The marine animals in Shark Bay were great to watch also. Alannah loved looking at the sharks.
Next day we had a rest day at the holiday park which was spent by the pool. We managed to get a cabana for the whole day which was a plus. Keira was so tired she had a little nap on the cabana day bed in the afternoon. It was a great day of swimming & playing on the waterslide. A massive storm came through that afternoon & we had to clear out the tent & go for dinner & let it pass. As it turned out it wasn’t as bad as expected & we could have left everything in the tent but better to be save then sorry!
Last but not least MovieWorld, Caelan was beside himself with excitement as he especially wanted to ride the Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster. So up early again & arrive for opening. The crowd didn’t seem so bad this time & we walked straight in. We had a little walk around & went to the Roxy Theatre, then headed round to the Wild West Falls. It was really easy to get around & kids loved having their photos taken with the characters. We had photos with Bugs, Looney Tunes & the Scooby Doo crew. The stunt show was great & Caelan was wide eyed the whole show. In the afternoon we headed to the Scooby Doo Scary Coaster & poor little Caelan was half a centimetre too small to go on the ride. He was so disappointed. The girls loved it but came & told him it was just ‘alright’ to make him feel better. He did get to go on the Road Runner Roller Coaster, he was happy with that. Unfortunately my kids are exceptionally small & there was a few rides that they had to miss out on. Craig on the other hand went on all of them & rated the Green Lantern the best. I’m more of a tea cups kind-a-girl & was happy to just hold all the stuff & take the photos of the kids faces.
Overall we had a brilliant time, the weather was exactly what I wanted – hot! The kids loved it, I think MovieWorld was the overall winner. Interestingly, I thought I was the only crazy person that would drive from Melbourne but every Melbournian I spoke to had driven. Would I camp again? Hell yeah! If it saves me money I can then spend on experiences for the kids, I would most definitely rough it again, although its more glamping at the Big 4 Gold Coast Holiday Park then camping.