On the next day of our Byron Bay trip, we ventured north of the border into tropical Queensland, the Sunshine State, so-called for its endless summers. Since Queensland is one of the only states in Australia where it is legal to hold a koala, our first stop was to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, where we got to cuddle this adorable (although somewhat smelly) koala:
The park had no shortage of koalas and other iconic Australian animals, including lorikeets, kangaroos, and emus— most of them pettable!
Our next stop was Surfer’s Paradise on the Gold Coast. It is famous for the abundance of high-rise residential apartments buildings lining its endless beach, stretching as far as the eye can see. It actually reminded us a lot of California in the middle of summer. After spending some time soaking up the sun, we made our way up to the Observatory Deck on the 78th floor of the Q1, the world’s tallest residential building and 20th tallest building overall. The views were mind-blowing— we could even spot the peak of Mt Warning, 50 km southwest, where we would be the very next day looking back upon Surfer’s Paradise. Could you imagine owning the penthouse above us? Check out the photos:
After dark, we made our way inland toward Natural Bridge, a cave within Springbrook National Park, part of the world-heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests (this region also includes Mt Warning National Park, where we would stay that night). Why would we go wandering through a cave in the middle of the night? To see the glowworms of course… and there were glowworms galore! The cave ceiling sparkled like a starlit night. As you can imagine, they weren’t easy to photograph in the near-total darkness, but you can’t blame us for trying: