Gold Coast Explorer since Jan 2010. Always on the lookout for fun, family things to enjoy with my four kids.
Published July 11th 2012
Polar Bear Swim
Looking for a mad memorable thing to do with friends - then look no further
Image courtesy of world.edu
Hold a Polar Bear Swim, just for fun or to raise money for charity. All you need is an unheated pool in winter and a few friends that are as mad as you, to contemplate something so crazy as a winter dip. Set a challenge, like swimming a length of your outdoor pool (a river or the sea would also do). Don't forget to take a group photo, so you can look back on the event in years to come and tell yourself how much fun it was. The best bit of the swim, apart from the heart stopping cold, brain freeze if your head goes under and the friendship of your mates as they throw you in, is when you leap out afterwards, grab a towel and enjoy a mug of hot chocolate.
OMG it's cold
It's great fun with kids. The hardest part is convincing other mums to let their kids do it. Mine have done a few winter swims now and are still alive to tell the tale.
Decide on a date. Choose a venue if you don't have a pool at home. Make an invite, complete with appropriate polar bear image.
Buy in lots of milk and hot chocolate and mini marshmallows to float on top. Bake up some treats or nip down to your supermarket.
Look out a supply of spare towels, so no one can use that excuse for not taking part.
Put your hot water switch on so you have enough hot water for showers afterwards.
Make a sign for the official photo, chuck a few balloons up at the gate and you're A for away.
The Loony Dook
The New Years Day Loony Dook in the late 1980's (Image courtesy of theloonydook.co.uk)
Scottish for "crazy swim", the Loony Dook takes place every year at South Queensferry in Scotland. An annual New Years Day dip, in the icy waters of the Firth of Forth, the dook has raised many thousands of pounds, over more than 25 years. This now world famous event was conceived in the local pub, prompted by Andy Kerr saying to his pal Jim Kilcullen "How about we do something different to celebrate the New Year?" From small beginnings big acorns grow and the handful of dookers is now over 1000 participants. The parade with pipers, led by the Town Crier, leads the crowd who are mostly dressed in outrageous costumes.
It all started with the question: How about we do something different to celebrate the New Year? (Image courtesy of theloonydook.co.uk)
Check out this image as these massive polar bears swim incredibly close to these children.
Image courtesy of Gerry Robichaud / Caters News
You can relax now as all is not quite as it seems. The children are actually separated from the massive carnivores by 10" thick plexiglass. The experience is the initiative of the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat in Ontario, Canada. The sanctuary takes in bears rescued from the wild and promotes the polar bear swim as a way to increase awareness of these amazing animals.
Image courtesy of Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat, Canada
If you want to see Australia's only polar bears then buy a ticket to Sea World on the Gold Coast. Sea World adopted two orphaned polar bear cubs in 2004. Found in the wilds of Canada they are now housed at Polar Bear Shores, a naturalistic environment which includes underwater viewing windows where you can watch the bears swim.
Limited places are available for Behind-The-Scenes at Polar Bear Shores. Take a guided tour with an educational officer and find out more about these intelligent creatures. Click here for more info.
Sea World is a great family day out. Better still, buy an annual pass for it is a park you will want to revisit many times, with each visit offering something different. It's also a better idea than trying to cram everything into one, too long, tiring day.The dolphin show is the best I have ever seen.
Sea World's dolphin show is the best I have ever seen Image S Jackson