How to Spend a Week In the Gorgeous Gold Coast

A trip to Australia’s dazzling Gold Coast is all about enjoying the balmy, tropical weather –  lounging at beaches and lagoons, eating the spectacular seafood at outside patios, and enjoying the wildlife. Last March, we spent time in Sydney, followed by a week at the Gold Coast and completely fell in love with the Land Down Under. The Gold Coast is located south of Brisbane on Australia’s east coast.

Highlights:

Beach and lagoon hopping up and down the Gold Coast

Lounging with roos’, visiting koalas and other Aussie critters

Top notch seafood – looking at you king prawns and the pies

Lorikeets flitting from tree to tree and fruit bats swooping through the night sky

A Visit to Carrumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

We had the most amazing day lounging with kangaroos, holding koalas and feeding emu at Carrumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.  I legit dream about it all the time. This place is expansive and we spent several hours observing the creatures.  Kangaroos and wallabies hop about with free reign of the park. You can hold a koala – if they aren’t feeling too sleepy. There is a lake filed with giant pelicans, trees filed with chattering jewel colored lorikeets, and skittering fringed lizards can be spotted everywhere. Buy feed at the entrance and feed the ‘roos, as you wander through the park. It’s a magical experience. Turkeys and sacred Ibis roam the grounds. Emu wander around as well, which you can feed (I did, but only after a few fortifying breaths. Emu are intimidating AF.)

Lounging with Kangaroos, Currumbin Gold Coast
I think this should be our new family portrait
Kangaroo Portrait
BOOP
Lounging with Kangaroos, Carrumbin, Gold Coast
Kanga conversations. I love this country.
Clever girl...raptors in Carrumbin Animal Reserve
Clever girl…….of COURSE we found the raptor
Koala Carrumbin
Look at this perfect little facer

As we were leaving the reserve to begin our beach hopping, a volunteer at the park suggested we grab some fish & chips at The Beach Shack in Currumbin, and enjoy the expansive views. Great recommendation!

Cotton candy clouds at Currumbin Beach, Gold Coast
Cotton candy clouds at Currumbin Beach – not a bad view for lunch!

Beach hopping:

Spend a few days exploring the beaches and lagoons up and down the Gold Coast! The beaches are varied and gorgeous.

Surfer’s Paradise/Broadbeach

Stroll the promenade and enjoy the sun at Surfer’s Paradise. Enjoy some $5 seafood tacos at Koi in classy Broadbeach, followed by cocktails at one of their many great patio happy hours or at a Surfer’s Paradise beach bar. In Broadbeach during one of our happy hours, lorikeets literally filled the sky. It was was amazing.

Surfer's Paradise, Gold Coast!
Gold Coast baby!!! (That’s right – I will never get over Joey T)
Surfer's Paradise Beach
This beach was gorgeous, but quite windy

Burleigh Heads

Choose a spot anywhere along the water for stunning views of Surfer’s Paradise and some sunshine. Grab a curry chicken pie at one of the delicious bakeries in Burleigh Heads, then a pick a spot to lounge on the grass.

Brad Burleigh Heads
Oh, just Brad looking cool AF

Tallebudgera Beach

Check out Tallebudgera Beach for a swim in the serene, turquoise lagoon surrounded by pines. Spot the lorikeets chattering wildly and flitting about in the trees. This was my favorite beach – the water was so placid and clear, it felt like we in Polynesia! It also had a very local vibe, which I loved.

Tallabudgera Beach, Gold Coast
This stunner of an estuary was a great find!

Wildlife

I often find myself day dreaming about lounging on our deck at twilight, watching bright, jewel colored rainbow lorikeets as they swooped from tree to tree in pairs and cockatoos flitting through the sky. Palm trees swayed gently in the breeze, the estuary sparkled green and as the sun set, fruit bats filled the sky. We sat watching the birds and taking in the view for ages. Australia is showstopper, through and through. 

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All The Seafood

We went to the most delicious Asian fusian place in Broadbeach called Mamasan, recommended by some friends who live in Sydney and had one of the best meals of my life. Australian king prawns in a rich green curry with perfectly cooked veggies. Brad and I talk about it all the time. Honestly – I was so enraptured by my meal,  I could barely make myself snap one quick pic, before I devoured it.

 

Where to stay

We stayed at an AirBnb at Surfer’s Paradise overlooking the estuary. Very comfy, great pool, nice views. Another great option is Broadbeach. More sophisticated vibe, better restaurants, but Surfer’s Paradise has the better beach.  Can’t go wrong with either place 🙂

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Transport

We had a car, which you will need for the beach-hopping. It’s also the best option to get from the Brisbane airport to the Gold Coast. There is a very nice train running from Broadbeach to Surfer’s Paradise, or you could use Uber. 

As you can probably guess, we have already begun planning our next trip to Australia. We are thinking of flying into Brisbane and driving the Great Ocean Road. Brad would like to visit the Barrier Reef as well. I would like to visit Byron Bay, because I am bound and determined to meet Chris Hemsworth.

sexy chris hemsworth GIF

 

How to Spend a Perfect Week in Sydney

Australia – you stunner. Of all the places I have visited, practically speaking, I feel like Australia boasts some of the very best quality of life. It’s incredibly safe. It’s clean, sophisticated and welcoming, while still feeling genuine and exotic as hell. The seafood and food scene in general is unreal. And, it still feels like a wild place. Kangaroos and koalas roam the coasts. Rainbow lorikeets fill the trees. Fruit bats swoop over Hyde park at twilight. The thought of living in a tropical city, where you spend weekends exploring the dazzling coastline, glittering beaches and hidden coves, appeals to me like no other. A week visiting Australia and I was already scheming in my mind – how can I make this life change?!

Highlights:

Lounging with roos’, visiting koalas and other Aussie critters at animal reserves

The beaches – that first glimpse of iconic Bondi is such a showstopper

Top notch seafood – looking at you king prawns

Lorikeets flitting from tree to tree and fruit bats swooping through the night sky

Drinks at the Opera House and fireworks at Darling Harbour

What to Do:

Visit Featherdale Wildlife Park

Oh, this wonderful place. We had a fabulous time  feeding the little ‘roos and other Aussie creatures. We even held a koala. Buy the food as you walk in and feed the little creatures and wallabies. They eat from your hand 🙂 A friend from South Africa told us about this hidden gem. Better and less crowded then Taronga Zoo.

Monty the Koala, Featherdale Wildlife Park
Koala Cuddling Featherdale

Koalas sleep for up to 22 hours a day – an animal after my own heart I must confess. I did a lot of research beforehand as I didn’t want to do anything that might cause an animal stress. All proceeds go to the animal sanctuary, and the koalas are treated carefully and respectfully.

Kangaroo Noser at Featherdale Wildlife Park
BOOP

 

Though cosmopolitan, Australia still feels like a wild place. I love it.

Happy Hour at The Rocks

The Rocks is the historic end of town known for it’s pubs. We stopped at The Argyle and loved it! It had great happy hour drinks/snacks and bustling atmosphere. We grabbed a couple of drinks, and lounged in the patio strung with twinkly lights enjoying the vibe.  It’s a  great place to take a wander, and it also has markets on Fridays and the weekend.  Some background info: Circular Quay and The Rocks is where you will find most of the Sydney landmarks – the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

Happy our at The Rocks, downtown Sydney
Cheers!

Stroll Harbour Bridge

There are lots of places to take some greats shots of the bridge. We walked across it for a great vantage point, then had dinner on the other side. Plenty of choices including Thai, Indian, Asian fusion, you name it. We had a wonderful time walking around Hyde park and watching the massive fruit bats swoop around the trees at twilight. We couldn’t believe it when we saw a huge shape obscure the clouds for a moment and both thought – is that a flying fox in downtown Sydney?! The trees are literally full of them. It’s amazing. 

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Spend the Day Lazing at Bondi Beach

Ah, Bondi Beach. That cerulean water! The absurdly beautiful people! There are several buzzy cafes lining the promenade for lunch, we chose The Bucket List for fish and chips. We couldn’t believe the way beach goers just left their items on their towels while they went for a swim.  This beach is SAFE. Note – that water is cold! We also took a stroll along the coast, beginning at Iceburg’s pool, and continuing along the path to Coogee. Highly recommend. You can do Bondi to Bronte (around 2miles) or walk the entire way to Coogee if you’re feeling energetic!  Our friend recommended Coogee as one of their favorite city beaches.

First glimpse of Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach is a dream of turquoise water, sweeping views and Aussie accents!
Fish & Chips at the Bucket List
We ordered the fish & chips, of course
Iceburgs Bondi Beach
Iceburgs, Bondi Beach

Drinks at the Opera House

Stop and have a glass of bubbly and take in the iconic views at the Opera House bar. Take a moment and revel in the fact that you are visiting Australia! Toast the wonder that is Sydney.

Bubbles at the Opera House
Cheers to you, dazzling Sydney!

Take the Ferry

Great way to see the harbour is by public ferry. Much cheaper than any of the private options and it’s the same route. Jump on any ferry to Manly from Circular Quay. Manly is a nice beach suburb so when you get off  you can explore the area, have a swim, grab lunch, etc. Enjoy the great views of Luna Park: an iconic theme park that also has a nice bar/restaurant inside with a great view of the bridge. Note – I got a little seasick, which is insane because the ride was very smooth, but if you are sensitive, I recommend taking that into account. 

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Fireworks at Darling Harbour

Strolling home in the balmy evening after a day of playing with roos and sightseeing, we were surprised and thrilled by a fireworks display in Darling Harbour. Displays take place Saturday evening over Cockle Bay. Watching the sky explode into magenta and blood reds and fire oranges, listening to the water gently lap against the harbour we thought to ourselves – what a fabulous city!

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Good eats/drinks in Darling Harbour: Everywhere is pretty good along the water. Some of our favorites include Crinitis (Italian), The Port (nice spot for drinks), Adria, and Nicks Seafood. We had dinner and drinks with friends from the area along the waterfront. The highlights – prawn linguini and lychee slushies!

Aside: a seagull landed on my shoulder and tried to steal my fries in Darling Harbour. Fucking what?! I thought Fisherman’s Wharf had well prepared me for the most aggressive seagulls of all time!

Devour the Pies and Seafood

All the food in Sydney is pretty to die for. Fresh seafood, great Thai and Indian and other Asian options. Of course, of course, we had to try the pies: this winner from Harry’s Cafe De Wheels was suggested by a friend who lives in Sydney. We went for the works: chicken & mushroom pie topped with a scoop of mash potatoes and mushy peas. Quite tasty. I still think South Africa serves the very best though. Shhhh…

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Next – off to the Gold Coast for beach time, seafood and wild life galore! 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiking to Rippon Vineyard – Wanaka’s Best Winery

Prepare for the Winery of Your Dreams

I plan to write a full guide to road tripping through New Zealand for the South Island and North Island, but wanted to first put together a post on hiking to a gorgeous winery in Wanaka, because I haven’t yet found any blogs mentioning this to die for place, and it is absolutely spectacular!

Situated on a verdant hill overlooking glittering Lake Wanaka and the surrounding Southern Alps, Rippon Vineyard in Wanaka, New Zealand is an absolute take your breath away, showstopper of a winery.

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We found the Gamay! Glorious views on all sides.

It takes a bit of an effort to reach this gem. We hiked about an hour on a gentle winding path along the lake, the last third of the hike uphill. When we arrived, there were only four other people at the hilltop winery. The tasting was free and delicious, offering wines from the Otago region. If you do not wish to buy a bottle (which you will, because the tart, creamy Gamay’s and Sauvignon Blancs are divine and at less then $20, a steal), the owners ask that you please make a small donation to the reintroduction of the Kiwi Bird to the area. What kind of cold-hearted bastard could say no to that?!

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The iconic Wanaka tree

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Breathtakingly beautiful views from Rippon Winery

After basking in the splendor of the sweeping views over the lake, Ruby Island, and the dusky mountains, we took our bottle and sat on the banks of Lake Wanaka, sipping our refreshing and fruity Gamay as the day turned to twilight. I felt blissful and free and eternally grateful to find myself in this gorgeous part of the world.

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Cotton candy clouds on the banks of Lake Wanaka
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Fuchsia sunset

Coming soon – A Guide to Road Tripping Through New Zealand.