Plane ride, theme parks and casual dining on the Gold Coast – part 1
One of the things I remember the most about cruising life is that the boat always comes first. Not only is it your home but it is also and more importantly your mode of transportation. Comfort and convenience come second to safety. This means that many a destination was picked around boating facilities and/or weather windows.
Flying a plane is not much different, and though a lot of our trips don’t revolve around servicing requirement and seasonal patterns, some of them do. Take our trip to Southern Queensland a few months ago.
It all started with a mechanical issue we could not have fixed in Sydney. Our auto-pilot kept playing up and it turned out that the only people with the proper testing equipment were located on the Gold Coast. Mr T promptly arranged for servicing and after being told it would take 3 days, he casually asked the kids if they would like to come along for the ride. Being school holidays , of course, Anne jumped to the opportunity, we invited a couple of her girlfriends to join ( one flew with us, the other joined us later flying commercially ) as well as Malcolm and his 2 children, Harry and Hannah.
Someone enquired about my foodie plans for this trip which made me laugh because it was such short notice, I didn’t really have time to do any research. Besides, travelling with 2 guys in business mode, 3 teenage girls and 2 younger kids all obsessed with amusement parks, I didn’t like my chances of sampling anything gourmet.
So it was very much a matter of “if you can’t beat them. join them” and I decided to go with the flow mixing dinners in Pubs, Clubs, and the odd Thai neighbourhood restaurant. All with surprisingly good results!
The flight north to Coolangatta took about 3 hours, which the kids spent mostly eating and playing games while Mal practised his piloting skills under the watchful eye of Mr T ( he later said, it is just like driving a boat! )
We arrive there in time before the fuel truck calls it a day, hand over the plane to the mechanic, collect the van, and provision for drinks before checking in at the Kirra Palms Holiday Apartments, only a few minutes drive from the airport ( a pre-requisite to any accomodation in our books, as Mr T likes to stay close to his plane ). Ours is a 3 bedroom top floor apartment, bigger than we need but it was all that was available online at such short notice. The interior is a little dated but there is plenty of space and location is superb, overlooking the beach and just across the Kirra Beach Hotel.
This is where we end up the first night, not only is it convenient but it also used to be a favourite hangout of Danielle’s, Harry and Hannah’s mum, and I promised that I would report. It is a typical australian hotel: sports bar on one side, pokies on the other, and a kids club house near the restaurant.
The place is packed, we are lucky to nab a table for the 7 of us and we send the kids to stand in the queue while Mr T fetches drinks and the rest of us guard the table. This is Pub Grub at its finest and everyone pick their favourite: surf and turf, caesar salad and fish and chips for the adults,
burger for Harry, chicken schnitzel for Hannah, pizza, chicken wings and nachos for Anne and Georgia ( they thought they were snacks size! )
Servings are generous, to say that we are full is an understatement and as we waddle back to the apartment, I am already figuring out out how to pace myself for the next 3 days!
The next morning starts early for an action packed day: with 6 theme parks to choose from in 3 days and business meetings planned for the guys, Anne and Georgia offered to take the younger ones to Dreamworld that first day.
It works out perfect, as the park is near the Hope Harbour marina where Mr T and Mal have arranged for boat inspections. It also happens to be where some of our cruising friends are staying while preparing to sail up north and I am more interested in visiting them than crawling over commercial boats. Except that I didn’t warn anyone of our upcoming visit and while we manage to catch Steve, the husband on one of the catamarans, he is in between boat jobs and none of the ladies are around that day. So much for winging it, I think, and we drive around Sanctuary Cove instead.
It’s been a long time since our last visit here: we first came in the ealry 90s when it first opened, and was a near compulsory stop in the days when we used to cruise up and down the east coast. While the Marina has not changed much, a few of the shops have: the brewery is no longer there, nor is the produce market, replaced by homeware shops and trendy restaurants. We find the local pub, Sanctuary Cove Tavern, and decide on a light lunch: salt and pepper squid for me, spiced up by small chunks of fried chorizo and citrus aioli. Mal orders the Thai beef salad which is made up of shredded marinated beef and the usual combo of rice noodles, shredded cabbage, peanuts, asian herbs and chili dressing. Terry picks the lightest thing on the menu: duck spring rolls and dipping sauce.
Both guys are happy with their small meals though I think they care more about the beers and are saving their appetite for dinner. After lunch, we drive around the area for a while, gawking at the rather ostentatious houses around Sovereign Island and imagining how it would be to park our boats in one of these canals, then before you know it, it is time to collect the kids at Dreamworld and drive the long way home.
By the time we arrive back in Kirra it is dark, everyone is tired and hungry. We let the children decide where to go for dinner, and to my surprise, they choose the local Thai restaurant, Rama 5, a few steps down the road ( I mean, doesn’t anyone want nuggets or pizzas??) and recommended by Adam, the manager at Kirra Palms.
The place is busy for a weeknight, and with most tables taken inside, we settle for outside sitting. Service is fast and friendly, and we particularly appreciate the waitresses pulling the plastic blinds down to shelter us from the wind and rain. One even brings over a few cushions to keep young Hannah warm!
On to the food: I love it when kids have adventurous tastes, and these ones tonight amaze me. Both Anne and Georgia order Chicken Pad See Ew, the epitome of Thai food and their favourite dish of stir fried rice noodles in soy sauce. “ I don’t mind spicy food ” Harry goes for the jungle curry and even Hannah, usually a picky eater, orders basil chicken! I expected them to share, but they didn’t, in fact they were so hungry they finished their plate in record time, not even giving me a chance to take photos! We all did share plates of money bags and mixed entrees though, a nice combination of chicken satays, spring rolls, curry puffs, fish cakes and calamari rings.
On the adults front, Mal chose a red prawn curry, Mr T a beef panang curry ( which tastes pretty much like a yellow curry with extra vegetables in it ) and I pick the pineapple combination fried rice. The latter only has a hint of pineapple but is chock full of prawns, pork and chicken. The curries are medium spicy as requested, hot enough for me, but not for Mr T who asks for extra chilies. The waitress comes back with these little bowls of red chilies in soya sauce and a smile on her face, as if not many customers like it hot. Well, Mr T is in heaven, and asks for another serve of chili!
Dessert is waiting at the apartment, ice cream and chocolate then it’s off to bed for everyone in anticipation of another day of rollercoasters!