Gunpowder, treason and Dreamworld

 Most Aussies seem to have actually heard of Guy Fawkes unlike most Americans I’ve heard of. Despite this, they don’t “do” Bonfire Night. Also, you can’t buy fireworks without a license so their emergency departments aren’t run ragged around October/November due to idiots who think it’s a giggle to throw them at each other.

So, to celebrate the first terrorist in recorded British history we instead trolled down to the Gold Coast to another theme park – Dreamworld. This one’s bigger than Movie World and contains a lot more than just rides and attractions – a small Australian zoo, Bengal tigers, cougars, the Aussie Big Brother house, The Wiggles show… a lot is indeed aimed at children but still made for a good day out.

Fortunately the weather had improved from the previous day – it rained for about 14 hours on Saturday. This was probably the most rain this part of Queensland had seen in months! Sunday morning, though, saw blue skies and sunshine. Ideal for us and the gazillion other people who beat us to Dreamworld and filled the car park.

 Like Movie World there are a load of shows to catch throughout the day, but the only one we bothered with was the Tiger Island one later in the afternoon. Most of the others are very “child-centric” (Spongebob Squarepants, Slime Time, Big Brother…) so we weren’t too bothered with them. First stop was Gold Rush Country where we took one look at the queue for the Mine Ride, then Belinda mentioned that she’d not had breakfast and that we had to go eat. So our first actual stop was one of the overpriced food outlets.

Finally fed, we returned to cowboy country and queued 30 minutes for the Thunder River Rapids Ride, one of those big inflatable tyre jobs. It was over in a little under five minutes and somewhat disappointing given the queue.

Next up was the Giant Drop. At the time of opening (and I think still) the tallest free fall ride in the world. Basically it’s a huge pillar. A rack of chairs is pulled to the top where it stays for around a minute so that the view can be enjoyed. Then it drops. Fast. Before being “caught” by air brakes at the bottom so that riders don’t end up as pavement pizza.

 I confess, I chickened out. I don’t “do” heights very well. On another day I may have been up for it, but today… nah. I’d have been trying to wrench the harness off at the top and seriously freaking out the other riders. Instead, I stayed on the safe ground with Belinda and waited while Albert and Sean wended their way through a ridiculous queue (50 minutes) just to scream like girls and look sick.

The ride is definitely bad for your health, though. I aged 50 minutes, got sunburned and ended up with sore feet – and I didn’t even go on the thing.

From there, we walked to the Log Ride. Again, a 30-minute wait for a 3-minute ride, but at least we got wet on this one. Albert more than anyone else, I think, although my shorts still hadn’t dried by the time we got home.

The next hour or so were more relaxing as we headed into animal territory. A petting zoo, Australian critters (kangaroos you could cuddle and other animals that were thankfully behind glass, pits and wire) and the beautiful Bengal tigers and cougars.

I learned a lot about Australia and some of its animals today, just by reading the posters and chatting to Sean. For instance, the taxonomical name for an emu is Dromaius novaehollandiae – note the “New Holland” bit at the end. I didn’t know this, but Oz was originally called New Holland as the Dutch were the first to discover it. Thing is, they only saw the west coast which doesn’t offer a whole lot, turned round and went home!

 Tigers are a favourite of mine as anyone will know – check out the posts from the start of April for more details – and the demonstration they put on here was superb. The animals are in very good health and performed “tricks” based on their natural actions including some amazing leaps. The cougars caught us by surprise.

Al, Sean and I walked off to ride the Tower of Terror, leaving Belinda to shop for a gazillion tiny tiger momentos. The ToT is a hybrid of the Superman ride I went on at Movie World and the Big Drop ride from earlier. 15 people sit in a 6-ton car on rails which is aimed directly at the Giant Drop tower. Using magnets, the car is rocketted forward with some amazing acceleration and shoots around 4/5 of the way up the tower, hangs for a couple of seconds and then gravity takes over, rolling the car backwards from whence it came. Again, at the time of opening, this was the fastest accelerating and tallest ride of its type in the world.

We staggered back from there to the shop to find Belinda, and as we left we encountered purple ropes enclosing a small square directly outside. Two cougars were walked in and a short display given, including how they can jump metres directly up to swipe birds from the air. The cats were literally inches from the guard ropes and the temptation to give them a pat was somewhat strong, but I find all ten fingers come in useful for typing.

The next, and last, ride of the day was the Cyclone. Again, Belinda sat out while us three testosterone-charged men wandered off to pretend how tough we were while quivering like jellies inside on a ride that kids took in their stride. OK, I’m taking for myself there. I’m just glad my shorts were still wet. Nobody could see when I pee’d myself.

Five o’clock and all the rides closed. We never did get on the Mine Ride. Maybe next time.

We then had far too much pizza for dinner and sat around watching CSI, typing up blogs and so on. Once more, there’s a handful of videos I’d like to upload but that’ll have to wait until I get a broadband connection. Stay tuned.

Photos by Belinda and Sean! Posted by Picasa

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