I’m taking a break from writing about New Zealand to tell you about the best little place, you’ve probably never heard of. And you’ll probably be even more amazed to hear it’s a theme park behind Wet ‘n Wild and Movie World on the Gold Coast.
Paradise Country, until the last 5 years or so, was solely marketed at international tourists. Since then though, it’s started advertising (albeit sporadically) to locals. Now its Aussie farm shows and animals are accessible for all, especially as it’s now part of the Village theme park pass.
But that is not the end of it. They’ve gone and done something even more special. You can now stay there overnight as a farm stay. Pitch your own tent or bring a caravan, but the most appealing to my husband (and to be honest, me too), is their own luxury RVs and pre-erected glamping tents. Two of the tents even have ensuite!
A friend told me about it a little while back but the prices seemed a little steep at the time. But fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I found a coupon for 25% off plus free entry to Seaworld, Wet ‘n Wild, Movie World and of course Paradise Country for the duration of your stay. And there was a night available over Easter?! It was as if all my stars had aligned.
So Easter Sunday, after the bunny had been, we took off down the M1 to Seaworld. (To maximise time, we had already picked up our tickets from the farmstay earlier in the week when we had other business that took us past.) After a day of taking in most of what Seaworld had to offer, we got back to check in to our digs around 5pm.
I’m not sure you could really define our accommodation as a tent. I think by definition a tent needs to be portable and this had a front and back deck as well as plumbing, beds, quality linen and a bar fridge! The only thing tent like about it was canvas walls and zip entry! But don’t mistake this for complaining. We loved it!
As part of the farmstay experience you get an animal meet and greet before dinner. We were a bit pushed for time, so only caught the final 15 minutes in the animal nursery but it was a laid-back and intimate experience for the kids.
Dinner was at your discretion. We chose to eat in their restaurant, a roast meat buffet which we could highly recommend.
After dinner (and after dragging the kids away from lawn Jenga), we took a perch around the campfire to roast marshmallows. I was surprised there were only a couple of families down there, despite the accommodation being booked out for the night. It was certainly a highlight for our kids on a weekend of many highlights.
The next morning we opted for our own breakfast of Easter buns on our deck, but if you want, the restaurant is open for a breakfast buffet (by all accounts, well reviewed). After this, it was time for the farmstay animal activities.
As we made our way to the milking shed, kids seemingly appeared from the ether. You suddenly realised the place really was booked out. There were probably about 40 children lining up patiently to milk two cows. It was handled well and everyone got a chance to help fill a pail.
Then it was on to the animal nursery to use some of that milk to feed the baby sheep and goats. This perhaps didn’t work quite as well as there were more human kids than goat kids, but everyone did get a very brief go at bottle feeding them. After this, Connie fell in a sloppy cow pat so we spent a long while getting her clean and we don’t really know what the group moved on to. By the time we caught up, the experience was just finishing up, but we managed to hang around and feed a few more cows.
At 9.30am, the park opens to regular visitors. We spent a couple of hours visiting the Australian animals and watching the shows. And then it was off to Movieworld just down the road for the afternoon.
I’d definitely recommend the experience, but it’s probably best to find a special deal and go on an average weekend or school holiday rather than their busiest weekend to date. We were cream-crackered by the end of the weekend but it feels like we’ve been away for a week, not just 34 hours. And I like achieving that holiday feeling on a merely a weekend.