After packing up our lives in Melbourne, we were off to our first stop of our 5 week holiday.

The 2 hour flight landed us in the beautiful, warm weather of Gold Coast. Our first stop was buying "Go Cards" at the airport, which are public transport cards that give you about a 20-30% discount off the regular rate (buying tickets up front on the buses) because we are excellent researchers and bargain travelers:) This made our 45 minute ride to Surfer's Paradise (where our hotel was) only $4.35, saving us a $75 cab.

We checked into our room at Vibe Hotel, which was a bit more than we wanted to budget at $120/night but it was worth it to be so close to the beach, shops & bars. And it also didn't hurt that it was a pretty nice hotel as well.

A two minute walk took us to the strip where everything was. We relaxed on the beach and got food before going out. There are always promoters out everywhere selling tickets to "Club Crawls", so we figured it would be a good way to check out all the nightlife.

The Club Crawl was worth the $25 we paid each, getting us admission to 5 "clubs" (which were more just fancy, small bars), a drink at each and food. Pretty sure I was the oldest one there (besides Nate) but it was still a good time, even though they slightly resembled frat parties.

Day two in Gold Coast was rainy the entire day so it consisted of a lot of relaxing, card playing (we're avid Rummy-players) and going to the bars again.

The next day was probably one of the best of my life because I finallyyyyy got to fulfill my dream of holding a koala!! We went to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary which was easily the best zoo I've ever been to in my life. We started with the "Koala Cuddling" and paid $45 to get three pics with Yani, the three year old koala girl. She was extremely friendly and surprisingly not heavy at all. She's not the smallest thing in the world and you would just expect them to be heavy but she was actually super light. The trainer let us pet her and hold her for a bit and we got some good pics with her. I've heard their fur is very coarse but she was really soft! This experience definitely solidified my goal of having a pet koala eventually. And I'm being completely serious.

After that, we did the Green Challenge. This was a fun little ropes course that they had set up in the middle of this rainforest setting. They unfortunately had the harder adult course shut down because it was too windy but the kids course was entertaining as well.

They have a huge area with about 40-50 kangas just hanging out where you can go in and feed them. They sell "roo food" for $2 so all the kangas come and surround you to eat. They also had a Lorikeet feeding and would give you a plate of milk and so the birds would come swoop down and sit on you and drink.

Overall, best zoo ever! And Gold Coast was a great and relaxing start to our trip:)
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Me & Yani:)
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View from our room!
 
Brighton Beach. Laser Tag. Healesville Sanctuary. Melbourne Zoo. Moomba Festival. Movies.

Heard about Brighton Beach and how they have all these cute little beach sheds along the beach and so Nate and I went last week. It wasn't the most amazing beach, but the sheds were super cute. It didn't even take too long to get there. We live in a super convenient location right next to a train station that goes pretty much everywhere, sometimes with a few layovers. Brighton Beach was about 40 minutes from us. It might seem long but it's not bad if you consider the lack of parking you have to do. AND it's SO cheap to get around on public transportation. I have a "MyKi" card and a concession card (student discount) and it's $4 a day, for wherever you want to go. I discovered a couple weeks ago, though, that if you pay for a few weeks in advance, it's even cheaper. So it's only like, $2 a day for me, or $50ish a month. Which isn't bad, comparing it to the $60 I spent a week on gas back home.
We also went laser tagging at DarkZone. It was definitely, by FAR, the most intense hour and a half of laser tag, or maybe just LIFE in general hah. There were maybe 35 or so people and we all were on 3 separate teams. It was pretty much all college students and the venue was HUGE. I think it was 3 stories or so and everybody had a home base that they had to protect. Definitely the best $15 I ever spent.

I've been DYING to hold a Koala Bear (& possibly kidnap it & bring it home) so Nate and I went to the Healesville Sanctuary. Unfortunately it's illegal to hold koalas in Victoria so I'm gonna have to go to Queensland to find one haha. Healesville was AWESOME though. It's not your typical zoo, though, where everything is super caged up and separated. All that separates you from most of the animal is a simple fence where they're just hanging out so you can pet them and feed them (2nd pic is me feeding a wallaby!) We visited the animal hospital right when they brought in an eagle with a broken leg and wing. We got to watch them care for it and one of the doctors showed us the eagle's x-rays. Yesterday, we also went to the Melbourne Zoo, which was more like your standard zoo but still more open than the zoos I'm used to. I've only really been to the San Diego Zoo, which is like, world famous & humungous, so these zoos are a lot different. They're just so much more open and all of the animals are way more active, which is the best part.)
The Moomba Festival is an annual Festival set right in the city on the river. They have a waterski tournament going on the entire weekend and fireworks every night. And then of course all your typical games and rides and food. We didn't go on any rides because it was like, $10 a person to go on anything, but we had fun just walking around. I saw someone with a huge. purple plush Sac Kings basketball and they told me they won it so we searched everywhere for the booth. By the time I got there, there weren't any Kings balls left :( The fireworks show was awesome - they had it synced with famous opera music and it was coming from the middle of the river.
I absolutely LOVE this city. Despite how expensive it is, there's so many things you can do, and a lot of things you can do for free. Like the Moomba Festival - you might not be able to ride any rides for free, but at least it's free to go. I feel like there's just so many hidden secrets about this city you can only find if you decide to just wander around, or get lost, like I have on a few occasions : )
I've been fortunate enough to get lost and find some AMAZING graffiti, a beautiful bike trail along the river and the random [not-on-purpose] humor these crazy Aussie's have everywhere.
God i LOVE this city.