ballooning over the Hinterlands

Not much sleep though as we have to be on the bus at 4:30am to go ballooning over the Hinterlands. It is pitch dark as we make our way inland to get to the balloon. Soon we were all cozy in the balloon basket and ready for takeoff. Being in a balloon is so gentle and relaxing. As the sun came up we were treated to the mist hanging over the trees in a golden light. Gorgeous. All too soon we were on our way down. Really too soon as the wind had just quit. We weren’t where we were supposed to be landing. So we had no choice but to come down in a pasture of cows. So there we were. About 24 of us still standing in the basket and a dozen cows chewing the grass and wondering where we came from. The poor chase vehicle had to find the owner of the land so he could get in to haul out the balloon. We were stranded with the cows for about an hour. Too funny! Once were let out of the pasture we were on our way to a winery. What a good thing! We missed a couple of places we were meant to stop. After a nice tasting and lunch we headed into the rainforest to walk off our lunch. Finally we made it back to the hotel to clean up before dinner. I’m sure our hosts were glad we didn’t bring some of the cow pasture with us. Seriously we had drinks from the top of the hotel and it was beautiful. You could see all around the Gold Coast. Soon we were off to the Australian Outback Spectacular. This is a kind of horse show set to music ala the Dixie Stampede. It was really fun and the dinner was good.

Stradbroke Island

We met at the Boardwalk Bar & Bistro on the riverfront. What a great place. Lots of outside seating so you can watch the Rivercats go by. And the selection and quality of the food was superb. A great way to start the day. Sadly, we have to say good bye to Michael as we head out of town. He was an extremely pleasant host. OK he was a riot! We had a great time. We are off to catch the speedboat transfer to McLaren’s Landing on Stradbroke Island. Again, we had a lovely day to be on the water. Once on Stradbroke we were treated to lunch and some R&R. There was a little combo playing and a GREAT BAR. The gals tending bar were creating the loveliest tropical cocktails. Too pretty to drink. Well almost! It was nice to just sit in the shade and listen to music. We’ve had a rather hectic pace. Soon we were boarding the Sir Henry Morgan tall ship for the leisurely sail back to Marina Mirage. Once off the boat a few of us pop our heads into the opulent Palazzo Versace. Felt very underdressed! We are on our way to dinner and a night tour of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. There were heaps of Koalas asleep in the trees. And before we knew it we were on our way back to the hotel and some sleep of our own.

Tangalooma Island Resort

Today we are heading to Davies Park where we are going to be whisked away by helicopter to Tangalooma Island Resort. It was a perfect day to fly over the crystal blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. We landed on the beach and headed off to do a site inspection of the resort before lunch. We also hit one of the largest sand dunes I have ever seen. Some brave souls did some sand boarding. Our next stop was the Marine Education center where we learned a bit about the wild dolphins that come in to the resort every night. After dinner we got to meet them and hand feed them. It was a blast! Then we boarded our boat transfer back to Surfers Paradise and our accommodation for the night.

Southbank markets

After breakfast we are headed down to the Promenade along the river to ride Segways. I must be becoming an old pro! After our circuit along the river we headed to the Southbank markets. They are open Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays. There were a large number of booths selling good quality things. It was great fun. Next stop is the Sirromet winery for taste or two before having a great lunch overlooking the vineyard. After a short rest we were headed to a restaurant called Tukka for some native Australian cuisine. Several of us tried the Kangaroo Filet that was very good.