Destination Gold Coast September 28 2019

 Travelling with young children is not relaxing but it doesn’t have to be too stressful with a little planning and a lot of patience. With Shane’s work schedule, I have often travelled alone with the four boys, especially if I want to escape the Melbourne winter. I figure, a little pain is worth the gain. My first trip alone with all four was pretty soon after the twins turned two years old (prior to that you need one adult per infant on most airlines) and I headed off tor Bali on my own. Me and a couple of terrible two's, a five year old and a seven year old! Luckily I had some help waiting at the other end!

What actually shocked me most was not how hard it was with my boys, but how little help I was offered by fellow passengers. Not that I expected it, but an offer to hold a carry on bag or pick a rogue water bottle up off the floor when I clearly had my hands full would have been nice. Instead I mainly received disbelieving stares and a slight ‘hip and shoulder’ as we disembarked the plane at Denpasar. It taught me to always pack light and to make sure at least one hand could always be free (think cross body bags, backpacks and large sturdy bags with zips). And most importantly as few suitcases (with wheels) that you need. It’s the simple things. 

I have always survived by having low expectations. Well not even that, just realistic expectations. Travelling can be tiring and boring even for adults so we shouldn’t expect our littlest people to be any different. So plan ahead with all the best plane snacks, change of clothes and all the entertainment devices you can squeeze into your carry ons. Always try for direct flights (it’s customs lines, long terminal walks and the pester power of the airport newsagent that will get you EVERY time!)

Lately I also have a bias towards smaller airports where the walk from the plane through to your ongoing transport is short and sweet. That’s why our recent interstate long weekend away was so appealing. We were desperate to finally be rid of the winter chill when a lovely email popped into my inbox from Destination Gold Coast. No sooner had I read surfing lessons and koala cuddles and I had replied with an eager YES PLEASE!

So we were off and I wanted to share with you some of the highlights of the trip as people often ask me down the track and lets face it, my memory is not what it used to be. Firstly we flew Jetstar and I must say, I’ve never had a bad experience. Low cost airlines get a bad wrap sometimes but the truth is, they help more Australians have more family holidays than we could previously afford, so we need to embrace the experience. As mentioned, when the walk from the luggage carousel to the hire car is short (and balmy) I’m a fan and Coolangatta airport is one of the best for this. A seamless transition and literally a five minute drive down the road to Kirra Beach and we were stripping off our tracksuits in our apartment in no time. 

We stayed in a great three bedroom apartment at Kirra Beach Apartments across the road from the beach. We had a gorgeous ocean view, kitchen, two bathrooms and plenty of space to fling our sandy bodies around in. (They even have a four bedroom penthouse - next time!) Even better, the pool, spa and BBQ area is fantastic and below the complex is the well known Kirra bakery, 7-11 and a pharmacy. That pretty much covers everything a travelling family may need at any hour. A stone’s throw are shopping centres, supermarkets and so many great cafes and restaurants. There’s nothing better than sitting outside on a warm evening relaxing in your sun kissed skin and I can’t wait to go back to experience more of that. 

Having said that, we did visit The Collective in nearby Palm Beach on Saturday night for dinner and it was fantastic. It’s a collection of five different restaurant surrounded by buzzing bars within a market style concept. A must inclusion to your trip to the Gold Coast. 

Our first stop (and to be honest, the highlight for the boys) was surfing lessons with ‘Walkin’ On Water’ surf school. Our instructor Dan was patient but firm with the boys as it is no mean feat to take four city slickers out into the waves. Luckily I’m also an ocean lover, so I stripped off and watched the boys squeal with delight as they stood on their boards and we could honestly see whales in the distance.

 A truely Australian experience in nature. We all wish we could have stayed longer. 

Nothing says beach holiday more than gelato dripping down your singlet, so it was straight over the road to one of the best - Gelato Messina. Just what we needed before heading back to our apartment for a shower and a rest before we walked down the main street. 

I must say, the only thing I don’t like about travelling on my own with the boys is being in great destinations with adult night life. I am partial to a cocktail and it was hard to see so many people having so much fun at every restaurant we passed. To my dismay, we ended up at a Pancake restaurant next to the supermarket but the boys were in heaven (blue heaven)! Isn’t that what family holidays are all about? A quick pit stop into Woolies for some fruit and weekend supplies and we strolled home for a great nights sleep.

Saturday started off well at Dune Cafe in Palm Beach. It’s right on the foreshore, has a huge patch of grass in front (to run off those milkshakes) and is right next to a great park. Tick tick tick. Plus great coffee - tick. Morning sorted. 

Next stop was the Swell Sculpture Festival. Now if you’re ever in the Gold Coast in September, you must investigate if it is on. It runs for 10 days and this year included over 50 contemporary sculptures set amongst the natural landscape of beautiful Currumbin Beach. Free and artsy and so beautifully Australian. Tick. 

My boys aren’t really keen to sit down for three meals a day on holidays, so we had a light lunch before heading back to the beach. A must visit in Queensland are the many surf clubs scattered along the coast. They are the perfect relaxed combination of beach front beauty and laid back atmosphere and they always cater to kids with their menu’s and set up. Google the local area you’re in for special nights and local hot spots but we were recommend the Currumbin Vikings SLSC. It offers a view of the Gold Coast like no other. Everyone has their favourite and many try to keep their local secrets hidden from the tourists :)

My favourite meal was Sunday’s breakfast at Cafe D Bar up at Point Danger. Their food rivals the best Melbourne hipster hang outs and the views are amazing. Again, we watched whales frolic in the distance and I got my (fantastic) coffee fix before the day’s activities. 

An added bonus for us was that my older brother lives at Burleigh Heads and my sister near Byron Bay so we also got to visit family while there. The beautiful stretch between these two places is absolutely my favourite part of Queensland and I envy those who call it home. You just relax the minute you arrive, getting around is so easy and each time we visit there seems to be more to do. This doesn’t include any artificial wonders either. We are all about the beach and being active in nature as much as possible. Bare foot and sandy with a loose schedule suits us best. Next time I’m going to make sure we also visit Cougar Cascades, a waterfall and natural waterslide in Currumbin Valley that is meant to be well worth a short walk to experience.

Instead the boys (especially Jack and Harry!) were adamant that we needed to visit Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and I’m so glad we did. We only had a few hours left on Sunday before our afternoon flight departed so we rushed around a little too much for their liking. Next time we will know exactly where to go and how to spend a full day there. Even with four excited boys exploring I found the sanctuary, just that - very tranquil. It is set in 27 hectares of rainforest so is well shaded and has a fun train that travels throughout, so getting around is very easy. 

We had to get a koala photo and made sure we explored the Sanctuary based on fitting in the many shows on offer. The funniest bit was when Harry was called on stage during the Australiana show and watching him help shear a sheep (his highlight!) Tickets are well priced based on how much there is to see and do including several play parks and cafe’s scattered throughout the grounds as pit stops.

Adults day passes are $49.95 with children 4-14 years at $39.95 and kids under four are free. You can also get family passes and other offers that make it even better value. 

Sadly, our long weekend came to an abrupt end in order to make our flight on time but it was only a seven minute drive from the Sanctuary to the airport. A much appreciated part of the trip for me was the ease and speed of getting around on my own with the boys. Disasters are easily averted, snacks and a change of clothes can be kept nearby in the hire car and the apartment was always only a short drive away. We started our school holidays in the best way possible and our three days honestly felt like a week. What more could you want from a holiday? 

Thanks so much to Destination Gold Coast for hosting us on our little adventure. We were already genuine fans of the area and our love for the Gold Coast has again gone up a notch. Next time we are definitely staying longer!