By pure coincidence, our overseas holiday to Australia bookended the start of the Covid-19 outbreak and the end of it as a global pandemic. Can’t exactly pinpoint why the family chose Australia but I guess a lot got to do with the familiarity, relative proximity and cooling weather. On this occasion, we began our 2-week vacation by flying into Brisbane before gradually making our way to other popular destinations such as Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. Here is a review of my family holiday to Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast which are located in Queensland, Australia.
Olympia’s love for theme parks was sparked by her visit to Universal Studios Singapore. She surprised us all at how fearless she was on the Enchanted Airways which I consider as a thrilling roller coaster ride for the kids. In Gold Coast, we bought a Super Pass package which entitles the adult unlimited entries to Movie World, Sea World, Wet n’ Wild and Paradise Country within a 7-day window. After discount on Klook, it only cost S$145/pax which I found it pretty value for money.
Olympia had a blast as we visited Movie World not once but twice. Olympia got to try go-karting for the first time which made her realised that she should never take her foot off the pedal- a good life lesson 😀
With the Super Pass Package, we tried all the rides that she was eligible for and it allowed us to explore at a leisurely pace. After visiting all the theme parks, what surprised me was that shows involving high adrenaline performances (think fast cars) or stunts by animals were appreciated only by the adults. It elicited at best dead silence or at worst a yawn from Olympia.
On the other hand, Olympia screamed her lungs off when Paw Patrol emerged on the stage.
Here are some tips for families:
- A multi-park pass package is perfect because it is almost impossible to complete all the rides in a theme park within a day when you are travelling with a toddler. Just anchor your visit on either Village Roadshow’s Theme Park or Ardent Leisure World (operates Dreamworld, WhiteWater World, SkyPoint and SkyPoint Climb) to get the most value for your money.
- Preferably, you would want to visit these theme parks when your kid is over 100/105cm. This the minimum height for the more thrilling rides for the little ones. Despite my best efforts to induce a growth spurt (hang-ups and extra milk) in Olympia, she still fell a few centimetres short of 100cm.
- Asian kids are small compared to Australian kids. Most park attendants at the gantry thought Olympia was a 2-year-old and were surprised when we showed the child tickets that 3-year-old and above need to purchase. You get the hint?
Since we had the Super Pass, we also took the opportunity to visit Paradise Country, an Australian farm experience. The major highlight of this attraction would be Olympia’s maiden ride on a pony.
She let out a “whoo” when the pony took its first steps as she probably didn’t expect it to be bumpy. Immediately after she disembarked from the pony, she asked to try the other pony which was behind her. I responded, “Olympia, there is a long queue and we should let other children have the chance to ride the pony too.” The truth was that one pony ride cost A$5 and only last less than 2 mins!
What warmed my heart the most was seeing the gentle side of Olympia when interacting with the animals on this holiday. I didn’t know that there is this side of her in this little cheeky fella!
Personally, the highlight of the trip was visiting Australia Zoo at Sunshine Coast. I truly felt the strong wildlife conservation spirit of the Irwin family. Visiting the Africa section when I saw the vast expanse of grass that the animals had easily took my breath away. It instantaneously reminded me of my honeymoon in South Africa.
The other type of attraction that we knew Olympia would like is the museum. This is an activity that we do quite often in Singapore since her preschool is located near various museums. We went to a couple of museums in Brisbane and the best part was that they were absolutely free!
We also visited the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. We paid to watch a show titled “Tycho Goes to Mars” and the wife said it was the best $10 spent ever! It was an apt introduction to our planet system for Olympia.
If you visit Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, do not forget to walk over to Mount Coot-tha Botanic Garden. During our visit, we were quite lucky that it was the cherry blossom season at its Japanese Garden.
As it was winter and given the Australia culture, most places of interest close by 5pm. To fill the time from then to dinner, we explored the playground and parks in the neighbourhood. We went to so many playgrounds throughout the trip that I felt like I was representing the town council on a work trip. Not that I was complaining because the playgrounds in Australia never fail to amaze me. Some of the memorable features included big pillowy bouncy castle, tandem swing, flying fox and even a cycling race track. Besides, playing in such weather and not sweating is one of the experiences that Singapore cannot provide. I would recommend checking out these playgrounds in Brisbane.
- Riverside Green Playground, South Brisbane
- Brisbane City Botanic Gardens Playground
- Neal Macrossan Playground at Paddington Skatepark
In Gold Coast, you must visit the South Lawn Broadwater Parklands. It was so fun that even teenagers were having a blast as well. Playground is one of the most amazing inventions because it will tire the children out and bring immense respite to the parent.
Besides researching intensively on children’s activities for the holiday, I also spent time to hunt for amazing food. Out of all the casual eats and dining restaurants that we have tried on our trip, here are the ones that I would recommend to Heartland Boy’s readers:
- The Fresh Pantry – would rate this as the best place we had for brunch on the entire trip. Everything on the plate was freshly made and it really was honest cooking done right. It was so good we nearly made a return trip the very next day!
- The Local Café – good lunch spot
- Flour of Life – bakery with amazing selection
- Shiraz Persian Restaurant- the slow-cooked lamb neck (Gardan) was so tender and easy
- Indian Empire- the Barra Kebab Masala was out of this world which had me slurping up the gravy
We particularly love Farmers Markets as it is an opportunity to sample local food and purchase local produce while immersing in the relaxed mood. Diagram 14 show Olympia trying crepe but she stopped in her tracks upon reaching the slaw.
- 24 Thai Street – Thai and Japanese fusion food is served here. This is the other restaurant that made me want to go back to try more items.
- Sunshine Coast Collective Markets – this farmer’s market has interesting toys placed on the grass to keep the little ones occupied so that the adults can eat in peace!
Of course, a trip to Australia would not be complete without introducing Olympia to Messina. Their award-winning gelato are simply out of this world.
I finally got to utilise one of the benefits of my crypto.com card – visiting the lounge! I brought Olympia into the lounge so that she can have her dinner without waiting for hot food to be served on the flight.
Budget for my family holiday to Australia
Cost wise, I would say budget approx. S$3K per adult for a 2-week trip. Unfortunately, inflation is real and I count myself lucky by purchasing my air tickets relatively early.
I saved quite a substantial amount of money by purchasing most of the attractions’ tickets via Klook by double dipping with ongoing credit card promotions. I even booked my rental car on the platform to snag a very good deal -$600 for 8 days of rent.
When ShopBack was running an upsized cashback promotion, I seized the opportunity to purchase my accommodation on Booking.com. The cashback was very substantial at 20%. That’s easily $200 off $1,000 worth of accommodation.
Finally, don’t even try to skimp on travel insurance during this period- I bought mine on SingSaver.
My family had such a lovely time for this holiday and I guess this photo says it all!
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