Dream time at the Gold Coast
BUCKET list: tick, tick, tick and tick. That was me fulfilling a number of long- held dreams all in one day, and I didn't have to leave the sunshine state.
It is clear to see that Queensland is hurting. The floods and feisty weather conditions have wreaked havoc on families, businesses and the tourism industry.
Holidays have fallen way down the list for many Queenslanders.
For me, the recent disastrous events have only highlighted the need to make the most of every precious day, not knowing what is around the corner.
I would hate to leave any special dreams unrealised.
Also, for businesses, what better time to thank and inspire staff than by taking them on a wonderful adventure/ team-building experience like the one I enjoyed recently on the sunny Gold Coast.
Staying at the world's first fashion-themed hotel, Palazzo Versace, I felt truly like a queen with a suite big enough to hold a small party (tempted, but didn't), stunning gilt-edged furniture and beautiful mosaic tiling in Italian Renaissance style.
Walking into the reception was to be transported to the opulent elegance of Europe with the stunning chandelier, and views across the water to the high-rise of the Gold Coast.
While I hardly wanted to leave my room the next morning, I knew it was to be a day full of surprises and wonderful opportunities to explore.
If I were to imagine the perfect start to the day, my dream would be to swim with dolphins in warm water and to have a scrumptious breakfast while said dolphins put on a spectacular show. And I did just that, enjoying the amazing Imagine Dolphin Experience as an early morning treat performed by the enthusiastic dolphins and trainers at Sea World before gates opened.
Swimming with two beautiful and fun-loving female dolphins, Stormy and Sunny, and their trainers at Sea World's Dolphin Cove was one the most incredible experiences of my life as I was able to touch and learn more about these magnificent mammals.
Next stop on my bucket-list day saw me screaming more than through my entire teenage years.
Not for the faint-hearted but definitely for the adrenaline lovers is Paradise Jet Boating on the Gold Coast Broadwater.
Certain we were going to crash many times, I screamed and laughed as we performed thrilling 360-degree manoeuvres at high speed and in shallow water.
Slowing down the pace, we also were able to cruise past the multi-million-dollar holiday homes (read mansions) on the man-made islands off the Gold Coast before admiring the natural beauty of South Stradbroke Island.
Next stop, Get Wet Surf School which offers surfing fun for groups of all sizes and occasions.
Get Wet got us all pumped up about surfing, even though I had never tried it and was slightly terrified.
As luck would have it, I had pro surfer Samantha Cornish on my team as personal instructor/ inspirational coach as we hit the waves just north of Sea World.
It was low tide and I became a bit of an expert at falling into the shallow water.
With Sam's patient encouragement and my determination, miracle beyond miracles, I stood up on the board – twice!
Of course, the photographer only managed to capture me in spectacular wipeouts, but I'll always know I did it (fist punch joyously in air). What a buzz!
After a quick change, we were off to a mysterious lunch location.
While I was pondering the menu possibilities, we were whisked by Sea World helicopter to the restaurant and luxury accommodation Songbirds Rainforest Retreat on Mount Tamborine.
I enjoyed a mouthwatering, five-course a la carte dining experience with wines from the Granite Belt, making my visit to this multi-award-winning dining establishment one never to be forgotten.
With meals created by chef Trent Dawson using freshly picked ingredients from the restaurant's garden, diners can try new taste experiences including a sorbet exactly like hot popcorn. After enjoying this incredible lunch, it was soon time to glam up for dinner.
During a sophisticated dining experience provided by chef Don Christie in the Palazzo Versace's Imperial Suite, we were treated to an operatic performance and fashion show.
Returning to the comfy bedding inmy Palazzo suite, I snuggled deliriously happily under the doona to dream again and again of one the best days of my life.
Find out more at the Queensland Tourism sites: www.queenslandholidays.com.au.
The writer travelled as a guest of Tourism Queensland.
GOLD COAST SNAPSHOT
Palazzo Versace: (07) 5509 8000 or www.palazzoversace.com.
Sea World events: (07) 5573 8315 or myfun.com.au.
Paradise Jet Boating : 1300 538 262 or www.paradisejetboating .com.au.
Get Wet Surf School: (07) 5532 9907 or www.getwetsurf.com.
Songbirds Rainforest Retreat: (07) 5545 2563 or www.songbirds.com.au.