Brisbane, Gold Coast
We’ve made it home unscathed from our trip to the Gold Coast, so let’s see how it compared to our original plans.
Who Went? One 2yo, one 5yo, Mum and Dad (plus meet-ups with various friends and relatives).
Review: This was a conference-and-catch-up trip, and I thought the whole thing went surprisingly well. We managed to catch up with more people than I’d expected for longer than I’d imagined, see and do as much as we wanted, and hold it together better than I’d feared. Tag-teaming with willing relatives helped, as did splitting up at various points along the way.
Highlights: Getting spoilt by the grandparents, of course. Brisbane City and Southbank, Southport, Springbrook National Park and Samford Show. And for certain five-year-olds, the new Airport Link Tunnel and Sir Leo Hielscher Twin Bridges.
Challenges: The first day of arrival was not as much of a challenge as I’d expected. I attribute the kid’s moderately-well-rested state to three factors: increased maturity; having a seat each for the first time; sitting in a normal row away from the bulk head with the bassinets for the first time. Because of these things, we were able to lift the arm rests up (bulk head seats have fixed arm rests at odd places) and spread out enough to make everyone comfortable – where by “everyone” I mean “everyone under six years of age”.
I’m not sure I’d advise all parents to run three hundred miles if offered bassinet seating for their infants based on our experience this time around, though. There are a few advantages to having that extra leg-room, especially on flights where the attendants are happy to let the youngsters stand on the floor in front of you, instead of insisting that they remain in their seatbelts even when no seatbelt light is on. (On the flight I’m thinking of they also tried to insist that only one person was allowed in the toilets at a time, even when my plus-one was a baby in a dirty nappy, although they did end up relenting on that one.) Bulkhead seats are also handy if you have a kicker or a foot-fidgeter. (If your baby actually sleeps in the bassinet I don’t want to talk to you.) I’m also not sure I’d pay for a whole extra seat if I didn’t have to, especially for a small baby – it’s not like Dad and I got any sleep ourselves, or indeed any moments where we didn’t have to carry some part of someone on our laps. What I did learn was that for a late toddler and a preschooler, having four seats in the middle of nowhere can work out rather nicely, and perhaps we should have made the move away from the bulkhead a little bit earlier.
The novelty and excitement of being home and being at a party did the rest of the work for us on the first day, and we all made it through until bed time (although I’m glad I didn’t try to operate any heavy machinery). The day flight on the return leg also went better than expected. Amazing what difference six months can make when it comes to tolerating long periods of sitting down.
On the other hand, the toilet training went more or less to pieces. We ended up using nappies all week and needing them much of the time. Today is the first day back in underpants, and I’m sure we’ll get there again eventually.
Price Bracket: Low, as expected, although it’ll be somewhat higher once we settle all the relevant family accounts.
- Mum and Dad packed, R helped wear kids out
- Taxi to airport, check in, dinner
- Board plane for overnight flight Singapore to Brisbane (7hrs)
- Arrive 5:30am
- Pick up by grandparents, shower, change, and tea at Nanny and Pa’s house
- Christening and party
- Grandad picked up Aunty M’s dog from the airport and saw her off to the Gold Coast
- Home to Grandma and Grandad’s house for dinner, stargazing and bed
- Overnight Grandma and Grandad’s house
- Rest day for Dad and kids
- Mum caught up with friends for coffee and did some running around she needed to do
- Relative’s visit in afternoon
- Mum ran out to trendy West End in the evening for a bit of Bollywood with her old pals at Bollywood Connections – part dance class, part welcoming community of friends you haven’t met yet. If you’re around Brisbane for a while, it’s worth going along for at least a few weeks in a row to learn a whole dance (and get to know people), but you can also just drop in for a one-off. Drea’s Dance Masala is another fabulous recommendation if you’re not free on Mondays or if you want to get the kids into it.
- Stargazing with Grandad for the kids
- Overnight Grandma and Grandad’s house
- Family trip to RSPCA Qld, where a friend gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the native wildlife under treatment there. They had a baby koala and red kangaroo, both of whom had been orphaned in road traffic accidents. There was also a fruit bat. Early lunch from Boys’ Town training cafe at RSPCA.
- Parked at train station and headed in to King George Square and Brisbane City Hall. City Hall has recently finished an extensive refurbishment and is therefore going through a popular phase. All the tickets to visit the clock tower that day had been booked, even though it wasn’t a school holiday or other occasion – my advice is to head there early.
- Bus to the Cultural Centre where we met up with Grandma and Grandad. We had so many options to choose from – the Queensland Art Gallery and nearby Gallery of Modern Art, the Queensland Museum, the State Library, the Science Centre and the South Bank Parklands with its Wheel of Brisbane – that we had to have a coffee to go over them all and decide. In the end we plumped for the Queensland Museum. Dad took P in one direction, Mum and Grandma took T in another direction, and Grandad scarpered for the hills. Tip for the uninitiated: a lot of free kids’ activities happen around the cultural centre between about 10am and about 3pm. Call or check the above websites for exact times, details and suggested age groups.
- Train and car home from South Bank. Another tip: I thoroughly recommend a Go Card for those using public transport around Brisbane more than two days in a row. My goodness but the single fares have gone up. On the plus side, some of our trains now come with free wifi!
- Dad split off to go hang out in a very cold shed with some guys, ostensibly to do some structured activity or other.
- Dinner at Great Grandma and Great Grandad’s house, overnight at Grandma and Grandad’s house.
- Drop dogs off with Great Grandma and Great Grandad, pick up Nanny, and head to Southport, Gold Coast in two cars via the new Airport Link Tunnel and Sir Leo Hielscher Bridge.
- Meet up and picnic lunch with friends at best Southport playground ever – the Broadwater Park playground on Marine Parade (opposite Australia Fair).
- Dropped Grandma and Grandad at the QT hotel as Grandma wasn’t feeling the best.
- Mum, Dad, kids and Nanny went to Springbrook National Park where they sheltered from the light rain in front of a the lovely fireplace at Scuttlebutt Cafe and Restaurant (which is actually only open Wednesdays to Sundays unless it’s school holidays), before tramping around in the wet and dark imagining how much fun this would be if it was clear enough to use the telescope we’d brought along.
- Met up with Grandma, Grandad and Aunty M for glow worms tour at the Springbrook Glow Worms Research Centre. The kids weren’t really old enough to appreciate this properly, and neither were anyone else’s at that time of night (7pm). Another few years, perhaps.
- Back down the mountain to Southport, where the grandparents departed with a sigh of relief leaving the rest of us to bunker down at the hotel for the night.
- Breakfast in hotel room
- Aunty M headed to conference and Mum, Dad and kids headed for brunch at Bumbles Cafe, but beat a hasty retreat when the kids proved themselves too worn out from the previous couple of days to behave in a manner consistent with civilised society.
- Mum headed for conference and Dad took kids for a soothing walk along the beach.
- Lunch at hotel, followed by the hasty departure by car of Dad and kids, who stayed at Nanny and Pa’s house whilst Mum and Aunty M stayed on the Coast.
- Conference for mum, other family members stayed at Nanny’s house and enjoyed visits from relatives, except for the bit where they went out to the playground and choofed off for lunch at the Brekkie Creek Hotel but couldn’t find a park because it was the Friday lunch rush so ended up at an unspecified pub in Nundah instead.
- Overnight Gold Coast/Nanny and Pa’s house
- Conference for mum, followed by trip back to Brisbane by bus and train.
- Samford Show for Dad, kids and grandparents.
- Pack bags.
- Overnight at Nanny and Pa’s house
- Early start and straight to the airport for a full day’s flight Brisbane to Singapore (8hrs)
Disclosure: Nobody asked me to mention any of these places or businesses. Honestly, how much celebrity do you think I have?