Road trip part 3 - Melbourne to Gold Coast

Trip Start Jun 15, 2007
Trip End Jun 27, 2008

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Australian Grand Prix! Well as many of you may or may not know, Nic is NOT a fan of fast cars making loud noises for ninety minutes! Especially not after getting back to Jethro late the previous night from Uluru, with somewhat of a thumping then rise at 'Oh, My, God its early o'clock', reach the venue at nine thirty AM, bake in the sun all day and hear the cars go past quickly for 53 ish laps!!! (insert own silly racing car noise here). However Pat will tell you that the day was filled with many exciting events. First there were a number of classic car races, followed by super cars followed by stars in cars (we didn't recognise anyone apart from Mark Philipouiss - tennis player) then some very very impressive stunt riding from some motorbikes...and one fell off in a rather spectacular fashion...but he was up in no time brushing down his ego and back on his bike for more showing off.....class. We reveled at the aerial display from, Harrier Jump Jets, formation flying from the Red Berets (Australian Red Arrows) and a fly by from Qantas, very low and slow. Joining us for the day were two great couples we had befriended on the campsite. Gary and Denise from Kent and Dave and Nats from Brighton. Both couples were on similar trips to us, so lots to talk about. The day was topped off by a win  from team England, well Hamilton.

After all that fun we needed a rest so a few days later, well rested, we headed out in search of more adventure...and found it in the form of trying to navigate Australian suburbs with a limited amount of information. This wasn't made easier by the fact that Australians ....being a young country and all....have not really grasped the concept of sign posting, when to do it and where. Signs for your exit are placed directly on your exit giving you little time to cut up the person who is trying to undertake you in order to be in the right place, or they just don't exist! hmmmmmm. When we had finally and blindly arrived at our destination.....None other than, Ramsey Street of Neighbours fame. We were a little disappointed to see an average looking street that looked nothing like what you see on the telly? As this street is actually where people live, the street name is different and the Ramsey Street sign is only there when they are filming. So a little bemused we begin snapping away, under the watchful eye of the not so burly security guard. Well what d'you know, when looking on the screen of the camera, there it was, Ramsey street just like on the telly! Except this time Jethro was making his debut cameo appearance.

P, P, P pick up a penguin....A few more kilometres and we arrive at Philip Island, famous or its p, p, p, population of p, p, p, penguins. As it was Easter weekend all the inns were full and we felt a little like Mary and Joseph trying to find a rest for our weary donkey, Jethro. But finally we do. So we head out to watch the penguin parade that happens every evening at around 8pm. This was a magical sight to see, all though a little heart wrenching, as you truly feel for these little wild animals. The parade consists of wild penguins in their natural habitat making their journey from the sea to their homes for the evening in the sand dunes. However, this is the most dangerous time of day for them. They are leaving the relative security of the sea and running up the beach where they are very vulnerable to all kinds of predators such as fox and sea eagles etc... So as a result it takes them a while to build up the courage to make the dash. They all begin to congregate at the waters edge, as they believe there's safety in numbers. A few brave ones will begin to walk towards the sand ..but then some penguins with less nerve, bottle it and as a result the whole group run back to the sea. This ritual repeats several times before they all finally make their way up the beach. This is a truly special and magical experience. All in all there are about a thousand penguins that make the journey every evening. Whilst we were there it was slightly less as penguins need to shed and grow new feathers and need to stay on land to do this before they can go back to the sea. 

So on the road again heading past Sydney, again, we pop in and see the gang... again then power on through across the vast country until some several hours later when we reach Lemon Tree Passage. A small peninsular north of Newcastle....Yes you may have gathered or already know that a lot of the place names in Australia are English. (digressing) there is an Oxford, Torquay...even a Rotherham Road! So back at Lemon tree Passage we settle in for the night. We decide as budget is tight to drive up to where the boats head out on dolphin watch tours and hang around in the hope that one will stray back with the boats.
We spent a leisurely day on the beach taking in the sights and sounds around us. We were just about to leave when some rather loud Japanese tourists alerted us to something happening with excited cheers. Dolphins... and two of them, slowly making their way around the bay just feet away from the waters edge, quietly and gracefully feeding on the fish that thought they were safe for another day! Nic quickly ran in to the water in the hope of a close encounter but were just out of reach but close enough to feel the magic that these creatures exude. To follow was a spectacular sunset to rival the many we have already witnessed.

After feeling uber special we hit the road this time heading for the Gold Coast. This place requires a large bank account so our stay is short. However whilst in town we decide to splash out on one of the best experiences money can buy.....A day at Wet 'N' Wild water park. Its like Alton Towers but with water. They even have a roller coaster that is powered by water.....but it wasn't working. So donning our costumes, Patrick in a rather fetching two piece, verruca socks at the ready and swimming cap tightly stretched we hit the slides. First up the Inferno of Terror...or something equally as frightening. We jump aboard what looks like a life raft with a few other unwitting strangers and before we know it are being hurled into a vortex of water rushing in to every orifice without being invited...on leaving the ride rather wobbly legged and retrieving our swim wear from places it shouldn't be, we head for the next ride...... Mack 5!!! this is a vertical water slide that only the brave dare to slide... and Pat did while Nic proudly took photos.

The next day we head for some R and R (cos life is tough) in Surfers Paradise. Basically a beach on the edge of a city where lots of surfers go, but nice all the same.With all the high rise it's a bit like an up market Benidorm.
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