Un­spoilt sandy beaches

Friday - - Society Living Leisure -

aren’t even the main at­trac­tion in theme-park-filled Queens­land

ller coast

Don’t shut your eyes Mum – it’s not scary!” im­plored my son. Max is a ded­i­cated theme park tourist be­cause noth­ing is too noisy, wet or stom­ach churn­ing for him. Of course it isn’t – he’s nine years old.

I’d had no prob­lem tak­ing him on a gen­tle spring­time carousel around New York’s Cen­tral Park be­fore, or on the teacup ride at Dis­ney­land Paris, but he was much younger then.

Now as we pulled into the car park of Aus­tralia’s Warner Broth­ers Movie-World, a gi­gan­tic green and black caged struc­ture gri­maced at me, mak­ing me feel queasy and re­signed to my fate.

Sit­u­ated in the north-east of the coun­try, the mix of Ver­sace glitz, fam­ily-friendly ac­tiv­i­ties and stuck-to-the-sun-lounger re­lax­ation guar­an­tees the Queens­land Gold Coast is a des­ti­na­tion to please ev­ery tourist.

We’d spent the time since break­fast in tra­di­tional Gold Coast fash­ion, lick­ing Pad­dle Pops (a lo­cal choco­late milk iced treat) on a typ­i­cally broad-fore­shore beach with foam-topped waves, al­most empty save for a swim­mer or two half a mile away.

While it was a wrench to drag our­selves away from the balmy sunny day and pow­dery sand, the Coast’s theme parks are es­ca­lat­ing their bat­tle for the vis­i­tors’ dollars and a wealth of new at­trac­tions are beg­ging for at­ten­tion.

Like most Aus­tralians, I had pre­vi­ously done ‘TheWorlds’ as they are known col­lo­qui­ally – Sea­World and Warner Broth­ers MovieWorld – but the re­gion also boasts Wet ’n’ Wild­Wa­ter Fun, mak­ing the Coast the Ozzy cap­i­tal for some se­ri­ous theme park ac­tion.

Our first stop was MovieWorld, and we got there early so there was no queue (oh dear). Max was straight to the point: “Oh cool it’s the Green Lantern ride, Mum. Pleeeeease can we go on it?”

With the steep­est drop in the South­ern Hemi­sphere and speeds of up to 66kph, the Green Lantern roller coaster is not for the faint­hearted. It’s based on the DC comic about an in­ter­galac­tic po­lice force charged with the pro­tec­tion of the uni­verse. So of course we had to try it. The 488m-long ride pulls 3.5Gs on its hair­pin bends, so I’m told by the charm­ing PR, Re­nee.

It was also sug­gested that once strapped into my seat, I might want to hold on to the safety rail. In all hon­esty, that was a given.

Sip­ping chilled wa­ter as I waited for the ride, I re­alised we were di­rectly un­derneath it. Close enough to see the pa­trons’ faces as they whizzed over­head.

Then it was our turn. Locked into place in our car, I even­tu­ally opened my eyes as we be­gan our slow as­cent. Each click of the flu­oro track as we climbed was a re­minder that very soon, my heart would leap into my mouth and all my pos­ses­sions – di­a­mond stud ear­rings, fill­ings, the lot – would, I pre­sumed, cas­cade to the ground be­low. The Lantern also has an on-board au­dio sys­tem, the only one of its type Down Un­der, and as I lis­tened, I won­dered if mine was sup­posed to be giv­ing me a few bars of Adele’s Sky­fall fol­lowed by, “Please take care not to lose the contents of your stom­ach”.

We flat­tened out to a level curve and I smiled bravely at Max, tak­ing in the moun­tain scenery. ‘I won­der what the post­cards are like in the gift shop?’ was my last thought as we jolted im­me­di­ately into a 120-de­gree, face-for­ward in­verted drop fol­lowed by a curve that flipped us 180 de­grees up­side down.

More dips fol­lowed and we were half-way through the Lantern, but of

For­get beau­ti­ful beaches

and the Great Bar­rier Reef – Queens­land’s Gold Coast is now fa­mous for be­ing Aus­tralia’s theme park cap­i­tal. Louise Oswald sam­ples the ups and downs

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