Sadly during our stay on the Gold Coast on our holiday, the only partly sunny day we had was spent at Tropical Fruit World. Why is that sad? It’s not that it was a terrible experience or anything but we left feeling like we were trapped on a crappy tourist ride at Disneyland and it spit us out from one place to the next only to make us wait for the only thing I cared about – the fruit.
Tropical Fruit World is less than an hour south of Surfer’s Paradise on the New South Wales border. Apparently they grow the most varieties of tropical fruit in the world and it’s also used as a research centre for scientists. So with all that nerdy food stuff, I was excited to learn about different varieties of fruit that I’d never seen or eaten.
Upon arriving, you see that it’s sort of kitschy with a young female employee and someone dressed as half an avocado waving at me in front of the avocado statue (I didn’t expect anything less). There is a little retail fruit shop that sells whatever ripe tropical fruit that is available that day and it’s interesting and reasonably priced. We asked about the tour and were told that there was one leaving right away so we took advantage of it!
So off we go to hop onto an open-air bus with about 25 other people. The bus drove inside the acres and acres of tropical fruit and I was getting really excited. After a few minutes, I was annoyed because the driver was whizzing by the plants and spewing out information so fast that you barely had time to listen to all the facts much less take any clear photos of anything.
Our first stop was not to take a walk but to grab handfuls of raw macadamias and practice cracking the nuts and eating them. He gave us about 5 minutes before we were ushered back onto the bus. Ok, I had fun but I was hoping we’d get to see more than that. The driver actually told us that we don’t have to come since we had a pram but heck no if I was going to miss out on anything! Then we drove through more orchards and saw a lot of interesting things that I was desperate to see more clearly but was happy that I learned a few things here and there. But then, it gets worse…our next stop was at their “petting zoo”. Here, we were told to pet the kangaroos, sheep, horses and whatever else was there. I was not very interested at all and I guess it was for the kids but we stayed there a lot longer than I cared to. I took that opportunity to let my kid say hello to a kangaroo but only for a picture op.
Again, we were ushered off to yet another activity that had nothing to do with tropical fruits. We were going on a boat ride…to where? As we hopped onto this open-aired boat, we were all given huge hunks of bread to feed the ducks that beg alongside the boat since the actual boat ride and scenery are not that interesting. At the end of the ride, we are taken to the “island” and then we hop onto a mini steam train that we straddle! The train was fun, but again, it had nothing to do with tropical fruits and we were stuck there for longer than we cared to be. The whole time that you’re taken to pet animals and ride trains, you have NO idea where you are and how to get out. I had lost all sense of direction and positioning.
Finally, they asked how many people didn’t taste fruit yet and we raised our hands and they ushered a few of us out to yet another waiting bus that plopped us back to “reception”. Once we got to reception, we were told that we were too late for this tasting and that we would have to wait for the next one in over an hour!! Although annoyed, by that time we needed a break so we took the time to eat lunch and sit in the a/c. Another family from Adelaide were also made to wait and were very angry because like me, that’s all they came for (to taste fruit) and they couldn’t believe that they had been taken to all this other shit and had to wait for this tasting.
The cafe there is very interesting. They serve some very interesting smoothies using really exotic tropical fruit that they grow and they also make interesting ice cream flavours. What was amazing was that our lunch was the BEST part of the day! Perhaps because both of us had such low expectations for the food (food at touristy places are often sooo average), we were amazed when my husband’s smoked salmon sandwich was huge and fresh with generous lashings of salmon and avocado and my chicken wrap was juicy and satisfying. We ordered two interesting drinks – Babaco (Champagne fruit) ice cream float and Black Sapote (chocolate fruit) smoothie.
On our way out, we found a walking path along dozens of interesting varieties of mangoes and honestly, that was much more relaxing and informative than most of that tour and the walk was free. We took a picture of the giant avocado and laughed about our experience and were thankful that I was able to get in for free (had a voucher) or else we would’ve felt the sting of wasting so much money!