Thursday, July 21, 2016

Come For The Run, Stay For The Fun: Days 4 & 5

We woke up to the sounds of rain on the fourth day of our stay in the Gold Coast; our first rainy experience here. This didn't bode well for our planned trip for the day. The wife and me planned to head up to Mount Tamborine for some fun up in the mountains. The rain was a little bothersome. 

Waking up to a rainy morning ..

Choon Yuen, Yang Leng & hubby and Jeannie, hubby & son were also joining us up on Mount Tamborine. My wife was a little skeptical about having to drive up a mountain road in the rain but I decided we'd still go on with the trip. I had complete faith in my driving abilities up a mountain in the rain. I've always wanted to visit Mount Tamborine since the first time we went up there in 2014. We went with a tour back then and really only had a half hour to explore the place which was nowhere near enough time for us. We swore we would go back there again and the rain wasn't going to ruin my plans!

The convoy heading up to Mount Tamborine

Some texts were exchanged and we discovered Richi and Jamie along with their families had to cancel their planned Currumbin visit due to the rain. We then decided to invite them along but there was a slight problem with space in the car. So, Choon Yuen, Jamie and myself drove around looking for car rentals for Jamie and after almost giving up hope, we finally got one that had available cars for hire which was a good thing cos it wouldn't have been all that much fun without the whole gang joining us for the drive up to Mount Tamborine. 

These damn Malaysians just don't know how to behave! Tsk! Tsk!

We were finally off as a convoy of three cars heading out to Mount Tamborine with Jeanie's hubby, Andrew leading the way. After close to 30 minutes or so we were heading up the narrow mountain road which was shrouded in mist towards Gallery Walk on Mount Tamborine. It was a nice slow drive since it was still raining intermittently. I loved the view (what we could see through the mist anyway) and countless times fantasized of retiring here one day!

Finally up on Gallery Walk

We stopped along the way for pictures just before we reached Gallery Walk. The weather was really cold and wet and good thing I was dressed appropriately this time unlike the first time we came here in 2014 where Choon Yuen and me were in shorts and freezing our butts off! Well, this time around it was Yan Leng & Jeanie's hubbies who were doing the shivering in their shorts ... LOL!

Grabbing some much needed hot food and drinks

After the photo-taking and monkeying around, we finally made it up to Gallery Walk. I was super excited cos I've been waiting for two years to get back up here again. We parked the cars, made a toilet stop and started our walkabout along Gallery Walk but not before grabbing some food and hot drinks. We were all pretty hungry from the drive up. Besides, the cold, rainy weather does contribute to making you hungry a lot more.

Wherever these two go, they're bound to be up to no good!

We found a cozy little restaurant just around the corner and proceeded to order some food and hot drinks. The food and drinks were served pretty quick and we all dug in. The rains started again so we sat in the warmth of the place a little longer to wait for it to die down. It was still drizzly but we decided we'd head out anyway to explore the place. 

My yummy omelette 

Now, Gallery Walk boasts of around 60 over vibrantly coloured shops, art galleries, wineries, restaurants and cafes. There really is quite a lot you can see and do on Gallery Walk with each shop offering a variety of items to purchase such as glass works, pottery, sculptures, painting, sweets, food and loads more. We started exploring each and every shop along, taking our time to take in the beauty and ambiance of the place. 

Some of the cute colorful shops

Andrew purchased a bottle of wine and we shared in the drinking. It helps to keep the body warm after all! My wife wanted to visit one of the shops we went to in 2014, where we bought some nuts and fudge back then to get some more cos she loved them the first time round. After browsing and sampling some of the fudge samples, she bought some which I really can't remember the flavours. 

She was the only one willing to let me take a pic with her ... sigh...

The rainy weather wasn't letting up and was a bit of a bother really. My wife had planned a few more places to visit in the surrounding areas but with the weather not really cooperating, we had to trim the list down as time was also not really on our side. We wanted to head down before it got too dark to drive so we opted for one more place to go to which was Witches Falls. It was just a short drive away and had a trail that led to a lookout point.

The two hardcore short pants fellows!

When we got there, the place was again shrouded with mist and we were skeptical we would be able to see anything when we reached the lookout point. Nevertheless, we hiked the short 1.5km trail in the direction of the lookout point. The air was cool and the weather was simply beautiful but halfway through the rain got a little heavier and we opted to head back to the car cos there really wouldn't have been any point to hike all the way to the lookout point, not in this kind of weather. I was a tad bit disappointed but gamely made my way back to the car with the rest.

The mist shrouding Witches Fall ..

Some of us, the gluttony ones like me were hungry again and it was decided that we'd head back down the mountain and stop by Peter's Fish Market for some fresh seafood. The drive back was uneventful and I was feeling a fair bit tired. We got to Peter's Fish Market and the sun was finally beginning to show itself. We ordered our food and dug in hungrily before deciding that we'd all head back to the apartment to get some rest.

Something about Witches Falls makes one do crazy dance moves!

We planned to meet up for dinner again at Yan Leng's apartment since they had loads of food leftover from the day before (#iamacheapskate). My wife was too tired and opted not to join Choon Yuen and me for dinner but asked to get some pie from Pie Story on our way back after dinner. Dinner was the usual cheerful banter and soon enough we all called it a night since it had been a long day. Choon Yuen, who would be bunking in with the wife and me for the night and together with Jamie headed out to get the pies on our way back. It was lights out pretty early for me cos I was beat and we had another long day planned the next day.

Even Jeanie wasn't spared doing the weird dance!


Day Five

Today's menu called for a visit to the Coombabah Lake Nature Reserve. The nature reserve is part of an estuarine corridor extending from Lake Coombabah to the Broadwater and Southern Moreton Bay. Choon Yuen who would sadly be flying off later at night joined both my wife and me for this excursion. It was an easy drive getting there since it really was just less than 10km drive away from the bustle of Surfer's Paradise but the moment you get there you'd be forgiven for thinking you were a world away. It's purely magical cos here you were in a natural metropolis oblivious to the surrounding city.

Joey the kangaroo

The Coombabah Lake Nature Reserve is a 12 thousand hectare haven for dozens of threatened species and is an authentic bushland in the centre of the city complete with free roaming kangaroos and koalas while hosting a mosaic of almost a dozen ecosystems and hundreds of various species within the enclosure. I kid you not, if you're an outdoor lover, the place is really magical and quite breathtaking.

Suspiciously watching us!

The moment we parked the car, we were immediately welcomed by a kangaroo! I was super excited, what with never having seen a real life wild kangaroo in my entire existence. We got some tips about how to approach a kangaroo by a warm and friendly Aussie guy with his kids who were leaving the reserve. Choon Yuen christened the kangaroo, Joey. He did look like a Joey anyway. We approached Joey very slowly and got as close to him as we dared before grabbing a few pictures.

Choon Yuen with his kangaroo!

We headed down the vast field and that was when we saw tons of kangaroos lazing about in the sun. They immediately and instinctively raised their heads and warily kept an eye on us. We didn't dare approach them any nearer for fear of being ambushed by a horde (is that was you call them?) of kangaroos. We'd never live it down with the gang if that happened!

Wife and Choon Yuen worshiping the sun!

After getting our fill of wild kangaroos, the wife, Choon Yuen and me headed off across the vast field into a trail path near the car park in search of koalas. The trail was lovely and looked ripe for a nice run. Unfortunately neither of us were trail equipped so it was just a slow hike for us. The three of us walked silently enjoying the serenity of the reserve.

Part of the trails into the reserve

Of course, when opportunities to fool around arose, we didn't skimp on the fun. We took loads of pictures and continued along the path. The foliage transformed and changed as we wandered deeper into the woods. We met a few hikers and asked if they spotted any koalas yet but all said none was forthcoming.

Wild animals frolicking in the reserve!

Soon we reached the eucalyptus forest and our koala spotting mode was in full swing. We were craning our necks up the eucalyptus trees trying our best to spot an elusive koala or two. Sadly we couldn't spot a single one but nevertheless we kept looking. The scenery though was spectacular with the scent of eucalyptus wafting in the air and the serenity of the place was deafening. Just as we were giving up hope of ever seeing a koala, Choon Yuen and his eagle eye spotted a koala hugging a branch on one of the tree. I was thrilled to say the least. Although all we could really see was its cute butt, it was a koala nonetheless. My life was now complete!

It's hard to describe the serenity of the place

After getting our fill of staring at a koala's butt we continued the journey through the ever changing foliage. We eventually headed back towards the car cos we were tired and also cos we wanted to get to the other end of the reserve where the mangrove boardwalks were located. That would require a short drive and we drove off in search of it.

These two birds followed my wife for quite a distance

It didn't take us long and soon we were at the other end of the reserve and made our way to the wooden boardwalk built over the mangroves on Lake Coombabah. The place was deserted save for the three of us and I was more concerned about a crocodile or anaconda having us for lunch!

The various plants spotted in the reserve

This boardwalk presented lots of vain shot opportunities and we didn't waste a single moment of it. We spent about 40 minutes or so for this entire boardwalk stretch and made our way to Harbour Town nearby to get our rumbling tummies filled. We really hadn't had anything except for a McDonald's breakfast earlier in the morning. It would be good to take note that the reserve doesn't have any toilets or food places so it's best to bring your own.

Looking for Koalas

Harbour Town was packed with cars but we managed to eventually find a parking and head to Grill'z for lunch. We were here the previous year and loved the food so it was only natural to head here for lunch. Coincidentally Jamie and family had the same idea since they also came over for lunch at the same place. After lunch it was a quick walk around before heading to Woolworths to get some stuff for dinner before heading back to Surfer's Paradise. Choon Yuen had a flight to catch back for home.

The mangrove boardwalk.

The past two days has been exhaustive but extremely fun. The places on our list were slowly being ticked off and we were both really happy. The trip this time was being maximized to the fullest and we still had lots to see and two more days to do it in. I couldn't be any happier!

Looking out to Lake Coombabah from the boardwalk

Final 2 days coming up.

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