The plan was to head up to Queensland for a couple of days. For a short break, but also to visit my Dad’s memorial bench at UQ, and see my uncle Frank.
I devised a plan to fly into the Gold Coast so that (given nobody else was coming) I could have a look at the Gold Coast
Tram Light Rail, which was built after my last visit in 2011. And as a bonus, my sons were flying back from their holiday on Tuesday, so I could meet them at Melbourne Airport on the way home.
Given the offspring would be flying in all the way from the USA, probably tired, and I’d be going to the airport from Footscray, I thought I’d drive, so booked the long term car park.
A couple of days before departure, the Airport web site sent me an email inviting me to upgrade to undercover parking at T4 for an additional $20. Given the weather forecast for the Tuesday was hot, I considered this, and tried clicking the link to see if it gave any more details. It… didn’t work. Okay, never mind then.
Come Sunday morning I found myself driving around the long term car park, hunting for a space. Given it’s the cheaper, less convenient option, it was remarkably full. This, according to their slogan, without a hint of irony, is “Parking to be proud of”.
Eventually I found a space not too far from the northern end, and rather than wait for the shuttle bus, walked to T3 (Virgin) to check-in.
(Memo to self: the farther ahead you book airport parking, the cheaper it is: one day it was quoting $35 for 2-3 days, a few days later it wanted $50. When you nominate your in and out times, they’ll actually give you an hour’s grace either side of that. And the prebooked rates are tiered the same way as walk-up rates; more than 48 hours and you’re paying for up to 72 hours. Which makes me wonder if I’d gone say six hours over my nominated time, but under 72 hours, would it have charged me extra, or not?)
Possibly foolishly I booked in one of my bags – they were both pretty small, but I do like not having to carry too much stuff around the airport.
Unlike the car park, the flight wasn’t entirely full; I managed to score three seats to myself.
The complimentary small rye roll with cheese was nothing lovely to look at, but tasted okay, and it was all I’d be getting for free on Virgin. I bought an egg and chive sandwich to complement it, since it was lunchtime. (The flight attendant did offer me another rye roll.)
Despite dire warnings (via email and text) of delays around Coolangatta, the flight was on time all the way, though as usual my ears did their thing on the way down. I wasn’t the only one – it seemed like all the babies on the flight were also having a bad time.
At Melbourne, some rows had boarded via the pier, others had the option to board via the tarmac. I like to think of it as the rock star option. At Gold Coast Airport, it was all via the tarmac. It’s not a big airport – it reminds me of Hobart but busier, and while Melbourne is sometimes called a car park with an airport attached, Gold Coast was more like a food court with an airport attached.
I picked up my luggage and headed for the bus stop, which was easy to find — straight out of the terminal, follow the signs, about 50 metres. This is in stark contrast to the PTV bus stop at Melbourne Airport, which is a hike to a bus terminal way down past terminal 4 in the “transport hub”.
In fact, Translink have quite obviously put some thought and effort into their airport route overall.
It’s a limited stops route running from the airport to the southernmost terminus of the light rail, so if you’re a bewildered tourist, you’ll have no trouble navigating this. No danger of missing your stop. And it runs every 15 minutes every day of the week, until after 11pm.
Evidently the 777 gets pretty busy; our bus was pretty big, with special luggage space, with only about ten people aboard. But I saw double-deckers on the same route.
The 777 connects to the new Gold Coast Light Rail, opened in 2014.
There had also been warnings of disruptions on the tram. Earlier in the day one tram had been derailed when hit by a fire truck, causing long delays — happily the service had resumed by the time I got there.
The tram took me to Cavill Avenue in Surfers Paradise, and I went and found my hotel and checked-in.
It was a very nice room. Very nice view across the river.
Alas, no WiFi! In 2017! If you want in-room Internet, it’s wired, and $10 a day. This seemed to make the smoke detector sad.
They only have free WiFi in the hotel lobby, which I suppose might be a way of socialising with your fellow guests… if everyone wasn’t so intently staring at their screens.
M couldn’t come on this trip, so after settling in, I headed out for some tram joyriding. Seriously, I saw some things this new(ish) system can definitely teach Melbourne. Lots more about this later.
I got back to Surfers Paradise and walked around for a bit. It was drizzly though warm, and most people had vacated the beach.
Looked around Timezone, pondering playing a few games, then discovered the minimum you can load on a new card is $20… yeah no thanks. (Shame, I have an old card from 2011, possibly with some credit on it, that I’d left behind at home.)
Ducked into an underground Woolworths to get a couple of things. Amazingly busy, as they often are in tourist areas. I noticed there’s also a Coles and another Woolworths in close proximity.
The drizzle had given way to full blown rain by this point, though apparently Brisbane had around 80 mm. Out with the umbrella and I walked back to the hotel for a cup of tea to watch the sunset and listen to a nearby club with a cover band belting out greatest hits, including a set closer of an extended elaborate version of Paul Kelly’s Dumb Things.
The rain stopped and I was hungry. Google reviews indicated a good pasta and pizza restaurant nearby called Salt Meats Cheese, which did me a very quick very tasty prosciutto and rocket pizza.
After that a further walk around along the main street, Surfers Paradise Boulevard. It was still pretty busy out. I assume there’s a lot of CCTV – on some traffic light poles I found warning signs that the council is busy filming you.
Back to the hotel. I grabbed a complimentary copy of the Courier Mail in reception, and relaxed for a bit and flicked through the paper.
Getting ready for bed I spied a cockroach crawling up high on the wall. Eugh. Sigh. Oh well, I whacked it with the complimentary newspaper and it dropped off the wall dead, fortuitously straight into the rubbish bin below. No big deal, but the usual thing with the creepy crawlies is that if there’s one, there’s probably more lurking. I mentioned it the next morning when checking-out.
To finish this post, here’s the view along the Nerang River — as spectacular as night as it is during the day.
(This post backdated to the day it occurred. Posted on 18th January.)