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    Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
    Get a international student card if u r a student helps u save heaps
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    Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia
    Arriving on the Gold Coast with Tanya couldn't have been more different from my previous experience of stepping off the Sydney to Brisbane bus at Surfers Paradise and heading straight for my welcoming hotel bed. On that occasion, I had meticulously planned my tour in fine detail with the travel agent before setting out and already had somewhere to stay at every destination. In fact, I had laid down so much cash in advance to make sure that I didn't end up getting off the plane with jet-lag and not having anywhere to lay my head for the night that I must've pretty much paid for the shop to stay open for another year. Furthermore, they were so keen to thank me for keeping them in business that they sent me a personal letter expressing how much they hoped I had enjoyed the world trip I had booked through them and then were so eager to put it in the mail that it arrived before I had even left England. This time around, I had spent most of the budget on a handful of once-in-a-lifetime destinations and pretty much made up my mind that we would fill in the bits in between as we went. When Tanya and I stepped off the bus as the sun was rising over the Surfers Paradise Coach Station, therefore, we didn't have the faintest idea where we were going to be spending the next few days - or even whether we would be spending the rest of the day walking up and down the beach asking if anyone could put us up. To further complicate matters, it turned out upon arrival that the coach station doesn't exactly welcome people with open arms at all hours of the day or night. After we had stepped from the bus, stretched and inhaled the early morning sea air, the first thing that struck us as ever so slightly inconvenient was that the coach station was closed and that the only means of contacting hotels and youth hostels was via a bank of courtesy phones inside. So we patiently sat around on a dirty bench outside, accompanied by some equally dirty looking individuals who clearly made the coach station their home, until somebody eventually turned up with a key and unlocked the doors to let us in. The first few places we called were full, and from the tone of some of the receptionists I spoke to it began to seem as though turning up in Surfers Paradise without a reservation wasn't such a hot idea after all. Eventually, however, I managed to find a postcard sized advertisement stuck to the notice board for a hostel room located quite near to the sea front which could actually fit us in - the woman I spoke to on the phone sounded helpful and welcoming, and even said that she could lay on a minibus to come and collect us from the coach station. Australia and New Zealand really are amazingly ahead of the pack when it comes to the whole "student travel" concept. Some countries, such as the United States, are still very much in the habit of looking down their collective noses at you if you suggest that you won't be sleeping in high class costly accommodation throughout your stay - in fact, most want a list of hotels you'll be staying at before they'll even let you into the country. In Australia, however, it's almost as though people think there's something wrong with you if you actually plan your next stop more than two days in advance. Every town, however small, has a Youth Hostel or a boarding house of some sort - probably several of them, in fact - and every coach station or airport seems to allocate at least one wall to banks of courtesy phones and accompanying hostel advertisements covering every town within a hundred mile radius. Most hostels are able to offer single, double and twin rooms as well as standard dorm room accommodation, and it has started to become more mainstream for not only students, but couples and even older folks to use them as cheap motels while on the road. It's this eagerness to welcome just about anyone which is a major partof what makes Australia so appealing to the traveller. Our hostel was a far cry from the up-market hotels we had stayed in previously. After signing in at reception, which was a window on the side of the building, we were handed a key to a gate on the perimeter fence which would allow us to come and go from the grounds, and then given a quick tour of the facilities before being shown to our room. There was a small swimming pool with a couple of battered deck chairs laid out next to it, a drinks machine, a small recreation room and a kitchen - but not much else besides. But these places keep the prices down by keeping things simple, and most backpackers generally only go home to sleep anyway. As far as food is concerned, you either label your stuff up very carefully and leave it in the communal kitchen in the hope that it's still there when you come back, or you eat out. Backpackers tend to be an amiable bunch, and evenings can be spent sitting around chatting or following each other to parties, whatever takes your mood at the time. It's not for everyone, but it's also easy to see why the travelling lifestyle is becoming attractive to more and more people every year. Our room was something of a shock initially, and I think Tanya was a little taken aback by the jump in standards from our last port of call. As we were signed into a private room, we were on a separate block from the dorms but our front door key nevertheless let us into a small living space which was potentially shared between three or four couples staying in adjoining rooms. For the first night, we had the block to ourselves and got used to using its limited kitchen, worn seats and television before we were joined on the second day by another couple who used their room so fleetingly that I think we only saw them once the whole time we were there. Our room itself wasn't much bigger than a broom cupboard - I think Tanya actually described it as being like a prison cell when we first opened the door. There wasn't a lot of light, the window was almost non existent and we pretty much had to climb over the bed to get in. The so-called en-suite bathroom was just about large enough to contain the sink. But it was home, and we happily fell into bed and drifted off to sleep after our long overnight coach journey. We didn't have a lot of time on the Gold Coast, so we spent our first day at Wet N' Wild, as I had been telling Tanya how much fun there was to be had there ever since it had become obvious that we would be heading through Surfers on our way towards northern Queensland and I realised that I might actually get the chance to float serenely around the Lazy River again. Unfortunately, due to my usual lack of ability to describe things on the scale of Wet N' Wild in a way which others can get their heads around, she seemed to have made up her mind that we were going to see something on a similar scale to a local indoor water park she had enjoyed visiting in England some years ago - something akin to comparing Disneyworld with a small circus in a field outside Watford. Needless to say, we didn't really know where to start and spent the day trying to cram in as much as possible and slowly getting braver as we worked our way up from the Lazy River to the scary looking black tube which emerged from a plastic mountain seemingly hundreds of feet in the air and twisted and turned as it shot it's riders mercilessly towards the pool beneath, where they would emerge screaming with a mixture of joy and terror before beating each other up in the race to get back to the top and do it all over again. On the second day, we headed for DreamWorld, the third of the major attractions on the Gold Coast after Wet N' Wild and Warner Brothers Movie World. The coach driver dropped us off at ten in the morning with stern instructions to be back at five if we fancied the idea of getting back to our hostel the same day as he only made the trip once a day and wasn't about to come back for anyone. This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that the parks often lay on evening entertainment, especially Wet N' Wild with it's "Dive In Movies" - events which are really quite difficult to attend if you have to be back on the bus by five! The main attraction at DreamWorld is something called The Tower of Terror, a ride which really does push back the boundaries of stupidity and proves once again that if you tell people that something is exciting they will happily jump from a cliff and worry about the consequences of ending up flattened out on the ground below like something out of a Road Runner cartoon afterwards! The tower itself is thirty-eight storeys high, and slopes off at the bottom into a long track which disappears into a tunnel. So, having decided that you have no more reason to live, the attendant (who has momentarily removed his cape and laid his scythe to one side) leads you into the tunnel where you are strapped into a waiting carriage. A few moments later, you get to be shot out of the other end like a bullet out of a gun at 0-160Kph in seven seconds whereupon you scream along the track and are propelled at something approaching escape velocity up the thirty-eight storey tower until Newtonian law kicks in and gravity slows you down at the top. Then, of course, you have a few glorious moments of peace during which you begin to pray that it's all over, before you suddenly fall back to earth again, pulling 4.5 G-Force. "The Tower of Terror: Don't look down" says the advertising blurb. It doesn't seem to occur to anyone that you probably couldn't even begin to move your head at 4.5 G-Force, so even attempting to look anywhere at all other than straight ahead at the sky isn't really going to be an option! A cable car took us for a pleasant ride to Koala Country, a petting zoo for the children where Tanya and I had our photo taken with a Koala and wandered around amongst the Kangaroos. Koalas are incredibly timid animals, and it is apparently very easy to literally scare them to death simply by being anywhere near them - so states such as New South Wales have passed laws making it illegal to hold them. Here in Queensland, however, the laws seem to be slightly more relaxed and it appears that contact with a Koala isn't yet illegal - although, of course, it is very heavily regulated and monitored and the situation may well change at any time. We didn't know about any of the rules and regulations at the time, of course, but it seems that many places in Australia will still allow you to either "cuddle" a Koala as long as it is only out of its keepers hands for a few seconds, will allow you to have your photo taken standing next to a Koala which is nestled in a fake bamboo tree on a photographic set, or will make it appear that you are holding the Koala in the photo although in fact you are actually holding a piece of bamboo to which the Koala is attached. All moral objections aside, our Koala seemed quite happy and sat contentedly in our arms while the photo was being taken, before being handed back to the keeper - both of us came away with a massive smile on our faces, but I would nevertheless recommend thinking very carefully about the moral implications of handling the native wildlife before rushing to Australia to "cuddle a Koala". A pleasant stroll back along the path from the petting zoo reveals an array of death-defying roller coasters, log flumes, ride-the-rapids and so on. Along the way, visitors can stop to look at cute looking newborn tiger cubs being looked after in a separate nursery section next to the tiger enclosure, or wait around for the next show and watch a trainer get in with the fully grown parents and demonstrate just how skilled he is at not being eaten. It's hard to believe that the little bundles of fluff next door will grow up to become these huge man-eaters. They even have a very rare white tiger at the park, something you really aren't going to see anywhere else outside of the Siegfried and Roy show in Vegas. There is certainly plenty to do at DreamWorld, but my main complaint would have to be that too much of the place is obviously designed to part you from your cash in return for a tacky tee-shirt or a mug with "I've seen the Tigers at DreamWorld" or something similar written on it, and for (at the time) a little less than fifty dollars, I expect a little more than this. After queuing for fifteen minutes to get onto a ride that lasts for all of thirty seconds, you really do start to wonder why they don't send a team over to Disneyworld to see how it should be done. One thing DreamWorld does specialise in, however, is putting on spectacular shows for visitors of the type you might expect from the big American theme parks such as Sea World in Florida. In fact, DreamWorld is now home to the Australian Big Brother house and has its own custom built amphitheatre to house the audience who turn up to watch every week while it's on air. If you happen to be seven years old or (like me) just feel like pretending you are sometimes, there's always the SpongeBob Squarepants show to keep you entertained, where kids can meet all of their favourite characters while touring Nickelodeon Land. The main problem I always find with the daily shows at theme parks, and I found nothing to change my opinion here, is that you usually have to arrange your day around them - rather than being able to say "right, we've got a few minutes, let's go and see the dolphin show", you tend to have to sit down with the printed daily schedule you're provided with on entry and plan out exactly where you need to be at various times throughout the day in order to not miss anything. The two shows that you absolutely must see while in the park, however, even if it totally messes up your plans to spend three hours lining up for the Tower of Terror and two throwing up afterwards, are the aforementioned dolphin show and the far more comedy based display of Sea Lion acrobatics next door. The Sea Lion show, in proper Hollywood style, is presented as an adventure in which the animals and their trainers are characters cast in a sort of Indiana Jones story which unfolds on a central stage. Those sitting near the edge of the tank can usually expect to get wet! On the way back to the entrance you can join a steamship tour of the lake, and this really is very well done indeed. Half way around, a cowboy show begins on an island in the middle of the lake and they soon get everyone involved in a lot of slapstick fun of the "look out behind you" variety. As the boat stops at various pre-determined points, the actors move along the riverbank from an Old West town to the county jail, shooting each other and robbing the bank and stuff. For some reason, however, I could find no mention of this show in the DreamWorld brochure or on any of the signposts around the park - I can understand why they want it to be a surprise when it happens as most visitors are under the impression that they're joining the paddle steamer for a relaxing trip rather than an exciting show, but I can't help feeling that they may be stabbing themselves in the back a little bit by not even suggesting that something might happen to spice things up along the way! After all, what young kid on a trip to a theme park wants to go on a boring paddle-steamer trip when he could be watching people in silly hats shooting each other? The predicted thunderstorms didn't materialise and the skies stayed bright all day, giving us plenty of time to make our way between the attractions at a leisurely pace and enjoy the many shows the park had to offer. While getting a bite to eat at one of DreamWorld's numerous street side cafes, we made the acquaintance of one of the more enduring characters we would meet on our entire trip - an overprotective visitor of the avian variety who quickly became known as "our seagull". We first became aware of Mr Seagull as a curious white head which would appear over the gutter of the cafe outside which we were sitting, disappearing again whenever we looked in his direction. Soon afterwards, it started to dawn on other birds in the area that they might be in for a free meal and they all started fluttering to the ground close by and hopping nervously towards our table in the not unreasonable hope of a stray crumb or two. This was when our seagull began to get really annoyed. He systematically attacked every single other bird which came anywhere near us. Flying down in a rage,he would launch itself kamikaze style at anything which even looked as though it might be a little interested in our table, and then return to the roof to stare at us hungrily and keep watch for anything else that looked as though it might want a snack. Eventually, when he was satisfied that he had us all to himself, our seagull finally came down from his perch and spent the best part of ten minutes hopping around under our table picking up every last crumb, sometimes just standing about and looking at the floor by our feet meaningfully as if to say "Well go on, drop something else then." The other birds watched from a distance,clearly having learnt a long time ago who was in charge of crumb gathering operations at DreamWorld...My complete travel journals are at www.offexploring.com/globalwanderer and /globalwanderer2
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    Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
    tropical.. varias playas y barato.
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    Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
    glow worms cave
    daily/weekly/monthly pass on either bus/train/ferry or all
    the dracula
    Mt. Cootha
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    Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
    go to all the theme parks they are incrediable
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    Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
    The Carrar Markets have become a bargain hunters paradise with a huge variety of products from 500 stalls.
    Plants, fruit vegies, clothing, shoes, arts crafts, watches, jewellery, tools, leathergoods, butchers, bakery fish chips are all available at bargain prices.
    Carrara Markets are the largest permanent markets to be found in Queensland and they are open every Saturday Sunday from 7am to 4pm.
    A market bus service can pick you up from selected points (including Pacific Fair for a AU$1 fare) or you can drive yourself and enjoy free parking and admission.

    Read more: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/827ac/1c9f87/c/#ixzz1IPpf5MNb
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