Gold Coast with a toddler – part one

Hey there PG crew. As you may have noticed, I haven't blogged for a couple of weeks. This is a result of being on holiday on the Gold Coast for a week and a half, and then diving into a new job as soon as we got back. A glorious, sun-soaked week and a half. This was the first holiday of that length we've taken with our daughter - quite a milestone for a two-and-a-half-year-old. This isn't the first time she's been to Australia, but the other times were generally because we parents had something on, and she was a bit young for a lot of activities. This trip was for a wedding, but this time she was fully involved since she was a flower girl. She's also old enough now that a lot of the tourist attractions were worth doing.

Taking a family holiday to Surfers Paradise was a bit of a different experience, but brilliant. We'd been there as a couple and done the theme parks as adults, but doing it with our two-and-a-half-year-old put a different slant on it. Having done it, I'm convinced that it's a great holiday destination for families with young children.

For starters, it's not a long trip. We flew into Brisbane and hired a car. We'd chosen to go midweek as this gave us an afternoon flight, having decided that it made more sense to use up a day travelling and start the next day refreshed, rather than getting up at an obscene hour of the morning and starting our holiday already tired. This ended up making for a late night in the end, but that wasn't too bad because it helped the munchkin sleep in a bit longer. The three-hour time difference courtesy of daylight saving meant that her usual wake-up time would have translated to 3-4am. She made it through to 5 the first morning and slept a little longer each morning after that.

Just as an aside, it's important to remember to arrange a car seat for the little one when you're booking the rental car, if you go that way. The Aussie ones tend to use anchor bolts in station wagons and hatchbacks, and I was pleased to find that this made it a lot easier to install.

The real appeal of the Gold Coast is in the breadth of activities available for all ages. While we were there we hit up Dreamworld, SeaWorld and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. We had wondered a little bit about spending so much money on theme park tickets with our child being so young, but any misgivings were unfounded. There is plenty on offer for kids of all ages in these parks.

Dreamworld has a section called Wiggles World, with attractions like the Big Red Car ride and Dorothy's Rosie Tea Cup ride. There's also a show with the peripheral Wiggles characters: Dorothy, Captain Feathersword, Waggs and Henry the Octopus. Then there's the movie tie-in areas and rides featuring Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda. Our girl was just old enough that we took her on the log ride too, and she loved it! The only thing you have to watch for is the queue times. The sign at the beginning of the Big Red Car ride scarily reads "Wait time from this point: 70 minutes". Over an hour queuing with an impatient toddler in Queensland heat? No thank you! Fortunately with preschool children you can time your trip to avoid school holidays and peak days and times, so not much queuing required at all, thankfully.

I've still got more to say on the subject, but rather than try to cram it all into one long post I'll save it for part two.