Road tripping in Bob - Part 3 - Yandina - Coolangatta, Queensland
Surfers Paradise, Queensland
On our way to Brisbane from Noosa, we stopped in a town called Yandina to visit the world famous Buderim Ginger Factory! OMG It was amazing! We are both massive fans of anything ginger flavoured so were very excited to tour the factory and see how they make all things ginger. We saw how they harvest the ginger, select what's going to be used for which product and how they preserve the ginger ready for use in all our favourite ginger flavoured items. We also had a tasting session of ginger beer, ginger marinade for meat, ginger biscuit with ginger cream and pineapple soaked in ginger, as well as "naked" ginger. Naked ginger is crystallised ginger without the sugar coating, it's yummy. After our tour, we bought ourselves a ginger milkshake in the cafe, as well as some ginger chocolate, sweet ginger sauce, sweet chilli ginger sauce, naked ginger, lemon and lime ginger marmalade and ginger refresher (cordial used to make ginger beer/ drinks) and a ginger bread man each. Sucked in by the ginger shop! Safe to say that by the end of the day we were a bit gingered out.
It was now time to find a caravan site around Brisbane city. On the rest of our journey, it's been relatively easy to find caravan/ camp sites with the aid of a map and some useful guides we've picked up en route. We made our way to one of the sites from the guide that hadn't failed us before which turned out to be in the middle of an industrial park and what we would describe as "trailer trash" -i.e. full of people who live there permanently and not kept the best. This trend continued for the next 3 sites that we visited, until we stumbled upon a holiday village, which was quite pricey but by that point we just wanted to stop driving up and down the motorway surrounding Brisbane!!!!! Not only had we struggled to find a caravan park, we'd also managed to drive up and down the same stretch of motorway over and over again and just couldn't find our way to where we wanted to be. We were in a vortex!!!! Perhaps spending the last few months in quieter areas with no motorways has meant that we have lost our ability to navigate ourselves on them!! That evening, we did a bit of research and managed to find another site that was a bit cheaper and not far away but NOT trailer trash. We headed there the next morning and caught the bus into Brisbane City Centre. In Brisbane, you buy a single ticket, which gives you unlimited public transport usage for 2 hours, so we made the most of this by hopping on a City Cat boat and zig zagged across the river to the main CBD area of Brisbane. Lou had a registration interview with a recruitment agency, so I headed off to the city centre and wandered around the shops for a bit and rediscovered the grotty hostel I had stayed in last time I was in Brisbane! Twice that day, we got asked if we were Swedish- when we asked why they thought that , they both said because of our tans and the colour of our hair (my hair is now blonde in parts due to the sun/sea/ swimming pools of the last few months!).
Next morning, we walked into the city, which took about an hour where we both had much needed hair appointments booked. A couple of hours of pampering later, we did some more exploring of the city, visiting the Botanical Gardens where we had a picnic lunch and the South Bank area. South Bank has a big man made lagoon on the river side that looks just like a beach complete with sand. It's right in the CBD, with the tower blocks and offices on the other side of the river. It's very popular with families and was very busy when we passed as it was a gloriously sunny day. We headed back to the van site and packed up ready to continue south the next day, leaving behind the Sunshine Coast and heading for the Gold Coast.
Our next port of call was Surfers Paradise, there aren't any caravan sites actually in Surfers Paradise, so we stayed 5km up the road in Southport on a lovely campsite right by the water's edge and with a lovely walking track through some rock pools gardens, playgrounds (complete with a train track similar to that at Bransbury Park but with a train you peddle yourself!) and BBQs which leads all the way to Surfers Paradise. The pavement also has "Have a Happy Day" with a big smiley sun printed on it everywhere you go! We're coming to the end of our "travels" and it'll soon be time for work, so we both needed to buy a few key pieces of work clothing, which we managed to find at the Australia Fair mall in Southport that afternoon! In the evening we went for a short run along the promenade taking in the lovely sunset across the water.
The following day we walked to Surfers Paradise and had some lunch sitting by the beach on the benches that are more like beds (see photos!) before heading to another mall to have a look! Surfers Paradise is a massive stretch of white sand, with massive waves, and huge tower blocks hugging the coastline making for an impressive skyline. On arrival back at the van site, we saw a familiar van parked up next to ours, Liza and Chris who we had met in Hervey Bay were parked up next us!
We were up early the following day, very excited as we were heading to Wet'n'Wild, a massive water park about 10 minutes away from Surfers Paradise. Like excited children we spent the day racing around the park going on all the rides at least twice, behaving like children and screaming like banshees - sometimes with excitement, sometimes with fear - with our favourite being called "Aqua Loop" - which Wet'n'Wild describe as; "On AquaLoop the fear begins when the trap door is released and you plummet, accelerating into a massive vertical free fall drop and then up into a transparent looping slide! The slide is gut wrenching, heart-pounding and gravity-defying and takes you to speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour!". It was VERY exciting but terrifying at the same time when the floor drops away from underneath you!!! By the end of the day we were exhausted and had aching limbs but enjoyed it immensely!
Our last day in Surfers Paradise, we packed up Bob and drove down to Main Beach, which leads to Surfers Paradise. We parked up, locked up and went for a lovely walk in the morning sunshine along the beach right up to Surfers Paradise and back. We got back in Bob and drove the 40 minutes down the road to Coolangatta. On arrival at the caravan park, we opened the back to get our purses, only to realise that 2 of Lou's bags were missing. We called the Police from the caravan park and headed back to Surfers Paradise to go to the Police Station. On arrival there, we soon found out that our van wasn't the only one that had been broken into. Three French girls and 2 French boys had also had their vans broken into. One of the girls had lost her entire travelling backpack! The Police were very good and took all of our details and what was missing and informed us that they had caught the people on CCTV committing the crimes and were currently tracking their car. Unlucky for the thieves, they had chosen a bright yellow car and an area that is covered with CCTV cameras, so thankfully it wasn't long before the Police caught up with them and retrieved all the missing items. A few hours later, everyone was reunited with their valuables and luckily nothing was missing thanks to the quick work of the Police finding them before they managed to do anything with them! After a few stressful hours, we were once again Happy Campers and set off back down the road to Coolangatta. Coolangatta is the last town in Queensland before New South Wales begin and we had intended on spending our last day in Queensland on the beach here but the weather had other ideas so we set off into New South Wales.
We began our journey in Queensland in the tropical, humid north and have been through just about every weather and landscape in Bob with lots of interesting twists and turns, encountered endangered and dangerous wildlife, met some great people and had amazing experience. Although we didn't experience the best weather the whole time, we can see why it is called the Sunshine State and as with most of the places we've been would happily revisit- even Surfers Paradise!!