Last year, I heard about a rather awesome activity that I dearly wanted to try. In Mooloolaba, Sunreef Diving were offering the chance to swim with the Humpback Whales that frequented the ocean by the coast. This sounded unbelievably awesome and I wanted to give it a try. Unfortunately, by the time I found out, the season was over, and so the waiting game had begun.
Of course, I was in the wrong part of Queensland when the season started up again, and so managed to wrangle a whole week off in an attempt to achieve this plan. It was pricy, and involved me travelling down to part of Queensland I’ve almost done to death again, but figured I would regret not doing it if I didn’t. It also gave me a chance to finally get that stupid Medicare card that I’ve been trying to get for nearly a month.
So after a Transnorth bus to Cairns, and a first thing flight this morning, I arrived to a significantly colder and far wetter Brisbane. I’d be heading to Mooloolaba this evening, but had plans in the South after I found the government building, so first things first – get rid of the bag.
Brisbane has sadly gotten rid of all its storage lockers that were once on offer at the train stations, so it’s a lot trickier to get rid of bags. However, I had a back up plan. I knew I’d be staying at Base when I came back to Brisbane, so went in and asked if I could leave my bag. Turns out, if you’re not staying there, you can still use their locker room for a more than reasonable $4 a day. Perfect.
My next stop was the Gov. building, which directly overlooks the square and City Hall. Dug out my forms, got ready to get in line, and found I’d made a rather stupid error. I’d forgotten to fill in my account details before I left.
Back home this isn’t a problem – everything you need is on your card. In Australia, these numbers are provided in a letter. You CAN get them via phone and online banking, but you need to verify through your telephone number, and guess who hadn’t bothered to update it when she switched to Telstra?
This meant I had to leave and head to the nearest Westpac, wait another 40 minutes for them to open, and when I finally got the information, walked out into rain without a jacket. Wonderful. The staff at the Medicare desks also forgot to put me into the system when I did get there, and had to spend 30 minutes waiting before somebody realised that I was actually expecting to see someone.
If anyone is coming to Australia – I recommend getting a Medicare card, even if you have insurance. It saves having to claim and helps the doctors out a lot. However, I had a glorious problem of having to prove I was here on my visa, as I’m on my second year, and my passport is stamped for my first. You’d think since I’d left the country and returned this year, I’d have proof in my passport, but turns out they never bothered to stamp it, so its not actually proof! Ended up getting validation by digging out the Bali flight itinerary, but it was a ridiculous song and dance considering I had my visa confirmation RIGHT THERE.
Between all these hiccups, I was running about 2 hours later than I’d planned, and had to bolt back to the train station, just making the next train by about 30 seconds (this would be the only train I would manage to catch on time all day). Least now I had about an hour to relax as I headed South to Dreamworld.
Yes, I’m spending Friday at a Theme Park I’ve already been to before. However, I have a year pass and in order to make it pay for itself I have to go at least twice. Plus, I’d missed a few of the rides last time and there are few things I don’t enjoy more than a good theme park. I did however decide not to take my swimsuit and towel for the adjoining water park since the weather was so crappy. By the time I got to the station though, it had actually turned into a pretty great day.
In order to get to Dreamworld, you take the Gold Coast train from Brisbane all the way to Coomera, and either catch a bus or walk the rest of the way. Since its only a 20 minute walk, and the next train was 40 minutes away, I decided to walk – a quick ask around for directions (essentially get out of the car park and turn right), I head off and make it about an hour behind schedule, but still before noon.
The park is about as busy as it was the last time I was here, still managing to avoid the locals by not coming at the weekend, and my first point of call was meant to be the rides I missed the first time. However, since I’m running late, and haven’t eaten since about 6 this morning, I head to the buffet restaurant instead.
Most of the food places in Dreamworld are shut by 2, so you have to eat early if you want to eat at all. With the pass, the Billabong Restaurant costs just under $25 per person, which seems pricy…but does include a roast dinner buffet, salad bar, desserts, soft drinks and coffee. For a theme park, that’s actually not bad value for what essentially becomes a pretty decent 3 course meal. My biggest issue was eating so much I was actually worried I wouldn’t be able to handle any rides!
Start off easy with a few I’ve done before, and hopped over to Tiger Kingdom to check out the new tiger cub. He was born about a month ago and still doesn’t have a name, but is very much a crowd stealer. Then I head over to The Giant Drop.
This, and the Tower of Terror II are attached by the same towering support. One involves speeding up it very fast backwards, while the Drop is exactly what you’d think. Chairs go up, hang there for far too long, then drop a ridiculous distance.
And I do mean ridiculous – I’ve been on a few Drop coasters (though normally not my thing), and this one just wouldn’t STOP. It’s the first time I actually had to pause for breath while screaming on one! Although…that might have been to do with the boys I was sitting next to. They were doing some kind of physics project involving G-forces, and one of them was wearing a vest with some kind of counter on it – for all intents and purposes it looked like he was wearing a bomb. Just what you want to be sitting next to at a theme park…
The Tower of Terror however, despite being attached to the Drop, is REALLY hard to find. The entrance has sort of become hidden after the Wiggles World was built, and you really have to look for it. Despite this, it still had one of the largest queue’s I’ve had to stand in at Dreamworld, so figured it had to be worth the wait.
And it is. It’s one of the quickest rides I’ve been on – probably takes less time than the Oblivion at Alton Towers, but GOD is it an awesome 30 seconds. You get strapped in, the lights start flashing, and then you find yourself flying backwards at an insane rate. Blink and you’re halfway up the tower. Then you come down equally as fast, and there you go. Went on 3 times before I figured I had to call it quits…
The only other ride I hadn’t been on was Wipeout. However I really wasn’t feeling up to it, and went on The Claw instead, and then tried to let my stomach recover by going on a few of the slower and easier rides. Sadly the Kung Fu Panda one wasn’t running today, so couldn’t give that a shot, so hit up the River Rapids and gave the TOT one more shot before heading to the entrance and going back to the train station. Sadly, I’d missed the bus I wanted, which meant catching a later train…giving me less than 5 minutes to get to Base, pick up my bag and then catch my next train. Needless to say that didn’t happen, so I ended up having to wait another hour for the next train North, then catching the connect bus.
Thanks to the trickiness of getting to Mooloolaba, I didn’t get there until 2 hours after I originally planned, after 9pm at night. So glad I’d actually been here before, because it was pitch black and I’m not sure I would have noticed my stop otherwise. Ended up getting a dorm all to myself (rather astonishing considering how hard it was to book a bed – every site said it was full) and crashing within the hour. Whales tomorrow!