I just came back from an amazing trip in Europe, filled with medieval cobblestones, foreboding castles and other touristy delights. Then I got around to thinking – how can I recreate the magical feeling of being a tourist in Brisbane so that I can prolong that happiness factor that usually linger with us when we go on holidays without putting a dent in my wallet?
So what do you normally look for when you go on a holiday? More specifically, what do tourists look for when they visit Australia? Looking at brochures and travel itineraries aimed at tourists, it looks like a little bit of shopping, an encounter with the local wildlife and enjoying the breeze at the beach.
There are definitely lots of tour operators and activities you can do which fits the above criteria. In fact, Gold Coast is teeming with choices. The catch is that they are all on tourist prices which is okay when you are spending your savings on the rare occasional treat but not feasible when you want to do it on a regular basis.
However, there are a few options you can go with if you are a bit creative. My suggestion for a one day tourist itinerary is to enjoy the wildlife experience by getting yourself educated about koalas and then driving south to Harbourtown shopping centre for shopping indulgence or where you can buy your yearly supplies at a fraction of normal prices and then stopping by for a relaxing afternoon at the nearest beach before your drive home.
One day tourist itinerary
Get yourself educated about Koalas (Wildlife experience)
Pic from Daisy Hill Koala Conservation Centre
Start your day with a visit to the Daisy Hill Koala Conservation Centre. It was built by the Queensland Government as a dedicated koala education facility and was opened to the public in 1995. It was recently refurbished in 2009 and admission is free. It is not a tiny koala centre in a zoo either – the Daisy Hill Conservation Park comprises 435 hectares of open eucalypt forest, truly a koala's paradise.
As a visitor, you can view the resident koalas from two different koala viewing boardwalks and have access to their interactive displays. The walkways are suitable for wheelchairs and visitors are not allowed to pat or handle the koalas. There are still plenty of opportunities to admire the beauty of some of the koalas like Faith with her pink pigmentation on the heels of her hind paws and Celeste with her white bottom.
Unlike a normal tourist centre, this is truly an educational centre where you can learn about sick and injured koalas, their biology and life cycle and learn about the plight of koalas. You can also organise koala-focused education programs for groups. To get there, if travelling south from Brisbane on the Pacific Motorway: turn off at exit 24, turn left into Daisy Hill Road, and continue to the Daisy Hill Conservation Park. This place is truly a class above normal tourist places because you have the chance to get involved, volunteer and make a difference.
. Shop til you drop at a fraction of normal prices (Shopping experience)
After your visit at the koala centre, head to Harbourtown Shopping Centre. Head back towards the Pacific Motorway, take Exit 62 then travel for approximately 7kms (7 sets of traffic lights) to get to the centre. You will be spoilt for choice at Harbourtown, with clothes shopping, accessories, household items, sports items and toys galore.
Take a break at one of their many restaurants with choices including Japanese, Italian, pies and ice-cream. If you are not hungry and just want a coffee break, there are plenty of coffee shops available as well. Most people can literally spend a whole day shopping at Harbourtown but then it may leave you a bit out of the pocket. So if you are not planning to go overboard, stay an hour or two, grab some lunch and then head to the nearest beach for some fresh air, relaxing wind and sand.
Enjoy nature's treasures (Beach experience)
Pic from Wikipedia JamesR
From Harbourtown, you are spoilt for choice for beaches. You can head down the road to Marine Parade, drive 8km or 12 minutes to Main Beach or 5km to Southport. Any one of these beaches will definitely have you feeling like a carefree tourist as you are surrounded by restaurants, hotels, smooth sand and the beautiful blue sea. After a busy couple of hours shopping, a trip to the beach is just the thing to unwind. Put down your beach towel and people watch while you soak in the sun. You can almost forget that you have to go back to work the next day!
So there you go – a wildlife experience, a shopping experience and a beach experience all in one day. Pure bliss for the cost of petrol and anything else you decide to buy at Harbourtown. If you start from Daisy Hill it takes around 34 minutes to drive to Harbourtown (approximately 47 km) and then around 8-12 minutes to the beach. Compared to the distances you normally travel when on holiday, a one way timeframe of less than an hour is a very easy drive indeed. So go ahead, pretend to be a tourist for a day. Why not give it a try?