Gold Coast Day 2 (1 Jul 16) – A Day of Encounters with the Wildlife: Unplanned Trip to Sea World and Koala Hugginh in Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

We started our day at around 9 am today. Our plan for today is to visit the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary as my friend and I had booked for the Koala Experience in the wildlife Sanctuary before arrival in Australia. The Koala Experience tour is scheduled at 3.15 pm, hence we thought it might be too early for us to head to the Wildlife Sanctuary in the morning. As we have also purchased annual 4-in-1 theme park pass with unlimited access from Groupon Australia (the annual pass on Groupon sells for A$89.99, while a day pass for each theme park sells for A$89 at the theme park entrance), we wanted to head to the nearby Sea World to exchange for the annual pass so that we would be able to access Movie World without waiting in queue for pass exchange when we visit in a few day’s time. The drive from our apartment to Sea World took about 20 mins. After parking our car, we were directed to a queue by the staff at the entrance for pass exchange. After waiting for about 30 mins for our turn for the pass exchange, we were told by the staff at Sea World that the system was down and they were not able to make the pass for us on the spot. However, the staff allowed us entry to Sea World with our Groupon printout. I turned to my friend and told him that since we are already here, might as well take a look around the theme park before heading over to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. In our original plan, we did not plan to visit Sea World.
Sleeping Koala at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Sea World

I had been to this theme park some 10 years ago and found the rides to be boring. Since we are already here, we took the morning to walk around Sea World. At the entrance, we saw a huge man-made lagoon. I told my friend this is where the Jet Ski stunt shows are being performed daily. Since we were not in time for any shows, we headed further into the park. Our next stop was the Penguin Encounter, which was housed in a small building next to the main entrance of the park. As we walked into the building, we were greeted by a large tank where we could some penguins swimming inside it. The decor inside the tank was rather minimal with a lot of artificial rocks, my guess is to mimic the natural habitat for the penguins. There is however a lot of space for the penguins to swim in. After taking some pictures, we headed up a ramp to the second level of the building. This is where we saw the surface of the water in the tank and a lot more penguins (mainly Emperor Penguins) resting on dry land. There is also a small section being cordoned off from the main habitat where several brown-furred King Penguin chicks are housed. After taking more pictures of the cute looking birds, we headed out of the building.

Entrance to Sea World
We took a wefie at the entrance to Sea World
This is the stage for the Jet Ski stunt show
Entering the Penguin Encounter
We saw some penguins swimming in the large tank as we entered the Penguin Encounter
The penguins seem carefree swimming in the tank 
More penguins swimming in the tank
Emperor Penguins in the dry area of the enclosure
Looks like the penguins are matching in the enclosure 
Taking a wefie with the penguins

As we were walking deeper into Sea World, we came across another building, next to the Penguin Encounter that has “Deep Sea Encounters” written on the building. We would have thought this building might be an aquarium where deep-sea creatures are being housed. This thought has gotten us excited and we hasten to enter the building. After passing a gift shop, we were quickly horrified by what we saw. The so-called deep sea encounters is a building full of plastic, enlarged creatures of the deep. There is no aquarium as we had expected. We found a scale seated in one corner of the building that says “your weight equivalent to a deep-sea creature”. We felt so cheated with this building and quickly exited. My friend and I were still “disgusted” by the “Deep Sea Encounters” when we were walking towards our next stop in Sea World. As we walked further into the park, we came across a bridge with an enclosure for pelicans as well as another enclosure that served as a nursery for dolphins.

A bunch of plastic fake deep sea creatures 
Well we took a wefie here since we are already here
Pelican Enclosure
Pelicans saw resting in their open-air enclosure
Wefie at the Dolphin Lagoon
Another View of the main lagoon where the shows are being performed

As we were walking, we ended up with the rides area. Most of the rides (for adults) had some water theme in it. We saw a ride, Viking Revenge Flume, that has the ride plunging 13m down a slide that might get us wet. As we did not want to get wet in a cold winter morning, we decided to skip that ride and went onto the Storm Coaster Ride. From the outdoor portion of the ride, this ride seems like a dry ride. As we entered the indoor queuing area of the ride, we saw a portion of the coaster track being submerged in water. I thought this would probably be the only segment of the ride that we would see the water. I consider the Storm Coaster to be a rather mild ride as there wasn’t any 360 deg turns nor any sharp plunge. We were taken by surprise towards the end of the ride when the coaster was plunging about 20m in a not so steep diving. We ended in the indoor area of the track where we were plunged into a pool of water. So much for not wanting to get ourselves wet. After the wet 45 sec Storm Coaster ride, my friend and I headed towards the other roller coaster ride – Jet Rescue. After queuing for around 10 mins, when it was our turn to board the ride, we were told that the ride will be closed for maintenance for around 30 mins. As we did not want to waste too much time waiting for the ride, we decided to move off to other parts of the park.

This area houses the rides for children
Posting under the tracks of the Storm Coaster
The final plunge of the Viking Revenge Flume ride

We headed towards the polar bear sanctuary, feeling excited to see some polar bears in action. The polar bears are housed in an enclosure with a building for visitors to see the bears. When we were walking in the building, we saw an empty enclosure, thinking that the polar bears might be in another part of the enclosure, my friend and I continued to cover the entire building. However, all we saw was an empty enclosure with no polar bears. Feeling disappointed we decided to leave the theme park. As we were walking towards the exit of the park, we passed by the Ray Reef, where visitors can buy some feeds to feed the stingrays. We did not spend too much time here as the park was rather disappointing, we headed for the exit and drove to our next destination.

Entrance to the empty polar bear enclosure
Stingrays at the Ray Reef pool. Visitors can buy a packet of food to feed them

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a good 45 min drive from Sea World. After parking our car, we headed to the inconspicuous entrance to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. The entrance of the sanctuary looks like a shop and gave me the impression that this wildlife park would be small. Passing the gift shop, which is also the main entry and exit point to the sanctuary, the park opens up to a large area. We headed to the customer service counter to get our Koala Experience tickets sorted out and headed into Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Passing the second entrance to the park, we saw a train track, that takes visitors around Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. My friend suggested for us to take the train one round before disembarking. The train took us to different parts of the park, covering essentially most of the park. I would recommend visitors to take the train and decided where to drop off rather than walking around the park on foot. At the last stop before the stop at the entrance, the train took us to a large enclosure where we saw visitors pat and feed kangaroos. We alighted at this stop for some kangaroo encounter. As we got off the train, we headed towards the wallaby encounter. This small enclosure housed two wallabies, which were hiding from the sight of visitors. Exiting this enclosure, we headed to where most of the visitors were, the kangaroo enclosure. This is a fairly large area, where around 15 kangaroos were kept. Most of the kangaroos were lying on the ground, allowing visitors to take pictures and pat them. My friend bought a packet of kangaroo feed and went around feeding kangaroos. Most of the kangaroos seem accustomed to the sight of humans coming into their territory to play with them, with a few hopping around casually. These kangaroos seem completely tamed and visitors can go up to them to pat them on their head and feed them. Feeding the kangaroo was an interesting experience. The kangaroo felt tamed enough, carefully licking the food off our hands gently.

Posting at the entrance of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
There will be a flock of parrots here in the morning and evening
Tasmanian Devil lazing in its pen by the train tracks
Taking a wefie on the train that brought us around Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
A lake that the train passed by 
We spotted a wallaby in its enclosure
Another wallaby running away when it saw us
Kangaroo lazing in its enclosure
These kangaroos don’t seem to mind us taking pictures of it
My friend approaching to pat the kangaroo
Wefie with a kangaroo in the background
My friend bought a packet of kangaroo food to feed it
Posing with the kangaroo being fed
These kangaroos seem tamed and accustomed to humans

We took several pictures here before heading towards another enclosure in this area where the Red Kangaroos are housed. The Red Kangaroos seem larger than the other kangaroos we saw outside this enclosures. This small area was segregated by a small stream, where most of the red kangaroos were seen resting. As the crowd was getting more in this area, which seems to irritate the red kangaroo. The animal took off and seek refuge across the stream, where it is out of bounds to visitors. We exited this red kangaroo enclosure and headed up the slope towards some other enclosures. Along the way, we came across saltwater crocodile enclosures, where the reptiles were seen lazing onshore, not bothered by a visitors (the viewing platform was a good 5m above the crocodile enclosure. Further, into this area, we also saw tree kangaroos. These small-sized kangaroos looked more like a raccoon than what we would imagine a kangaroo would be. We exited back to the main kangaroo enclosure to finish feeding the kangaroos with the remaining food before taking the train to meet our guide for the Koala Experience.

Emu in the red kangaroo enclosure
Saltwater crocodiles
We spotted an emu watching us from afar
Tree kangaroos are small and looked more like racoons
Another tree kangaroo looking for food
Tree kangaroos feed on leaves
My turn to feed the kangaroos
My friend finishing feeding the kangaroos
One last pose with the kangaroo before we head for the koala experience tour

We met our guide at 3.10 pm, who brought us into the koala enclosure. Visitors can see the koalas, which is located at the entrance to the park from outside the enclosure. However, with the koala experience tour, we were brought inside the enclosure to spend time with the cuddly cute animal up close. Our guide gave a detailed brief on the habits of the koalas. We were told that the reason behind having the tour between 3.15 pm and 3.45 pm is that this is the period of the day when the koalas are the most active, as these creatures spend 18 to 20 hours a day sleeping. Inside the enclosure, we spotted a rather active koala. She is seen jumping from branch to branch, curious about visitors inside the enclosures. I saw her looking at us a few times, as though she was wondering who are these people. Spotty as the guide called this koala, doesn’t seem to mind us taking pictures of her and with her. We were given liberty to walk around inside the enclosure to take as many pictures with these cuddles as we want with a condition of not touching them. We were told that the koalas can turn violent as they are very territorial animals. After spending a good 20 mins in the enclosure, we were escorted to an area beside the enclosure for photo taking carrying a koala. The ticket price of the koala experience includes the entrance to the park, guided entrance to the koala enclosure as well as photo taking carrying a koala. The first koala doesn’t seem in the mood to take a picture and threw tantrum after the first visitor in the group had taken a photo. The staffs were seen trying to coax him into behaving, but finally gave in and brought another koala out. The second koala seems friendly and cooperated in the picture taking. Carrying the koala wasn’t as heavy as I was told. This koala was so well behaved that he did even looked at the camera when I was carrying him. The time now is around 4 pm, as the park was closing (it closes at 5 pm), my friend and I left the park before the main crowds leave to avoid traffic jam. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is located near to Currumbin Beach, my friend suggested heading to the beach to take a look.

Taking a wefie with a koala in their enclosure
This is the time when most of the koalas are awake an active
Koalas up close
She is moving along the branches to search for food
Me with a koala
Wefie with koalas
Koalas up close
This koala just woke up from her sleep
Koala up close
This is a very active koala
Entrance to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Elephant Rock

As we were driving along the beach to find a spot to park, we saw a small carpark by the beach. We saw a sign that says Elephant Rock lookout by the carpark. Elephant Rock Lookout is perched on top of a huge rock, behind a restaurant. From the top of the rock, the view of the evening winter beach was stunting. I can see to Surfers Paradise, where a group of the tall building seem to congregate on one side and endless beach coastline on the other. While facing the South Pacific Ocean from the rock, I can endless horizon with the might of the ocean currents rushing towards land, hitting themselves on the beach. Elephant Rock allows one to get a good picture of the beach. We stayed on the top of the rock for around 5 mins before heading towards the beach on the sandy area to take more pictures. After taking pictures, my friend and I headed back to our apartment, stopping by a Fish and Chips shop to pack dinner back to the apartment. We rested early tonight as we had to wake up very early the next day for our Hot Air Balloon Ride over the Hinterlands.

Elephant Rock lookout
Crumbing beach from the top of the rock looking towards New South Wales
View of South Pacific Ocean from the top of Elephant Rock
View of the beach towards Surfers Paradise
Panoramic view of the beach
Another panoramic view of the beach
Wefie on Elephant Rock Lookout
Towers on Surfers Paradise 
View of the ocean from the beach
We stopped by this Fish and Chips shop to pack dinner back to the apartment
Fish and Chips for dinner


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