A 10-day trip to Gold Coast – Part 1: Air Asia, Car Rental, Brisbane, O Reilley, Rathdownney, Mt Barney, Alpaca Farm

27 03 2009

DAY 1

Night flight to Coolangatta

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The LCCT Airport is just too small to cope with the volume of people – like it or not, the government has to do something real quick, first time tourists arriving at the LCCT are definitely not going to have a good impression of Malaysia, and there ARE more and more tourists traveling on budget airlines who will never get to see the posh KLIA since they land at the LCCT.

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Which seat to buy for this route?

Holiday/peak season, don’t even think about saving – get the extra leg room seats, pay an extra RM100 – its WORTH it. (Hot seats are different from front row seats). If you have more to spare, get the xtra long seats – getting there fresh means a good start to the holiday, if you want to save, do it for the return journey when you are dead tired and can just flop to sleep! I measured (I really did) and discovered the Xtra long seats are wider by about 2 – 2.5 in and of course have more leg room. However, for the Australian sector, all the seats don’t tilt back, they slide forward – personally, I’d prefer the tilting seats.

Off peak season, week days – if you want to take a risk, get any of the other seats cos if its not a full flight, you can just lift up the arm rests and lie across 3 seats – but like I said, its a risk you have to take.

Our flight was in the night which means we get to see sunrise – beautiful! 

DAY 2

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The night flight is cold, you know what to do.

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Arial view of Gold Coast at the Surfer’s Paradise to the Mermaid beach areas.

Buy seats on the same side for your return journey so that you get to see 2 different views going to and returning from Gold Coast.

These aerial shots were taken by Andrew Chum from the right side of the plane (seats GHI) from KL-Gold Coast

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CAR RENTAL

Got this 5 door Auto Kia for about AUD700+ for 9 days from Europcar through the internet.

The car averages AUD29 – 32 per day (more if less days) and I booked the car without having to pay a booking fee. Note that rental is charged per block of 25 hours, so there is no difference if you return the car the night before or the next morning if you don’t cross the next 24 hour block. Not paying a booking fee means you can still shop at other counters when you arrive, not too good ethically, but it helps if the original company you booked from actually quoted you sky high.

A good option is to rent for a day from the airport, return the car in the city, and shop around the city for a better bargain. Manual’s cheaper than auto, of course.

Extras are things like 2nd driver, GPS (VERY important), insurance coverage, excess km, airport charges, so look out to see if these are included in the quotation.

Our quotation was for AUD300+ which included rental, full tank petrol, limited insurance and no extra airport charges. We ended up paying a lot more cos we decided on full insurance – zero liability which was another AUD30+ more PER DAY.

In simple language, no addition means insurance coverage but we pay the first AUD2750,

add AUD20+ and the liability is brought down to AUD300+,

add AUD30+ and its zero liability.

When you get in, PLEASE check that the UBD map book is there – absolutely crucial, also if you’re not paying through your nose for zero liability, then check the car and take pics of any existing damages.

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Arrived in River view, a suburb off Brisbane after much difficulty and spending money on a useless map – yup, we didn’t check the car and they didn’t have the UBD in the car!!!! They also ran out of GPS units (AUD5 per day – a wise use of money cos it’ll save you loads of time)

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All of us busy checking our mail at Grace and Chris’ place after arriving – they are wonderfully gracious hosts and we are SO thankful to them for the hospitality extended to us.

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Tuesday night is pizza night – cheaper, so we took advantage of it and ordered pizza with our own salad addition.

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DAY 3

This is where not having a GPS got us into trouble.  I used google map to look for “Alpaca farm” and it led us to a place near O Reilly’s – but I didn’t know that there are 2 farms – the more famous one is about 20 – 30 mins drive from O Reilly’s.  The smaller one is at a place called Twin peaks at Mount Barney, another park altogether. Although the 2 places are near by line of sight, they are very far by road.

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The view is fantastic though, at Mount Barney and we would have stayed longer if not for our appointment with Jason and family at O Reilly’s. 

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Rathdowney in Mount Barney area is a beautifully quiet area and we would have stayed there for the night if we had brought our stuff. Another good place to stay as a base would be Canungra where we saw some motels, caravan parks and hotels.

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Rathdowney town

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Great pies 🙂

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Petrol prices range from 97.4 – 117.00 cents per litre at different petrol stations – Matilda and Shell are the cheaper ones.

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The road to O Reilly’s is either tree lined or bare with GREAT views

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We just HAD to stop

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Finally, the real Alpaca farm – its called the Rosemount Alpaca Farm, O Reilly’s. They close at 5pm, so don’t be late.  If you have time, buy a cup of tea and just enjoy the great view

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Excitement at the fantastic view

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See what I mean?

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I was so engrossed by the view that I forgot the reason for my visit – to see the alpacas

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Cute little things, aren’t they? The souvenir shop sells alpaca garments – too hefty for a Malaysian – we’re worth 2.5 times lesser. A sweater costs anything from AUD200 – 700

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You could stay at O Reilly’s too – but room rates are expensive.  Opt to feed the birds instead – just buy a packet of bird seeds and see the birds fly to feed from your open palm.  That’s what I hear, I don’t know cos we were too late for feeding time (11am – 3pm)

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The BBQ pits are free for use, just push the buttons at the bottom of the pit till you see the light go on, then wait for the grill to heat up.

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Its free, but cleaning up is expected

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This is to show Malaysians that we have a loooong way to go where our public toilets are concerned.  This toilet in the nature park is clean, dry, well equipped with toilet paper, running well and has no broken-down parts. Oh, and the flush works too 🙂

Just learn to be a bit more civic minded and less selfish – by all means, use the toilet, but leave it as clean as you want to find it!

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We arranged to meet Jason, Jeane and family here

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Canopy walk – no more than 6 people on one span

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I was wearing Calvin’s jacket – yup, the young pre-school kid – either he’s big or …..  I’m slim, hee hee hee

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Tree top climb

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This is from the first platform – there are 3 altogether.

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This tree is covered …….

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by fungae

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Another kind of fungus

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Found my first wallaby of the trip

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