AN ADRENALINE junkie once advised me that I should “open my eyes, look straight and scream” when I ride rollercoasters.

Strapped only by a lap bar, I gripped the steel handle until my fingers turned purple. I was onboard DC Rivals, a famed hypercoaster in the Warner Bros. Movie World in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. As my throat felt choked, I started doubting my decision to ride. I looked beside my fellow rider, Niña Jaspe of Iloilo Skyways Travel and yelled, “I’m scared!”

The ride took off slowly as we started our climb. My neck hair stood up from the breeze like I was tiptoeing near the edge of a cliff. I clenched my teeth and sat staring up at the blue skies on our way to 202 feet. Soon, we reached the peak. All the noise stopped as we felt the front of the car we were sitting in making its way over the bend. Aghhhhh! The wind slapped my face and restraints pushed hard against my body as we plummeted down the first drop at 115km/h.

That was just the start to more relentless hops and turns, including an insane sharp twist on a non-inverted loop, the ride’s signature element. A non-inverting loop is a kind of a loop that never goes upside down because the track twists while keeping the riders upright. Eventually, as we pulled to a break run, I swallowed down a surge of excitement. I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. My hands were cold; my legs wobbly. But I did it!

DC Rivals was just the first of many white-knuckle experiences I got to try on this tour. Together with travel agents from Iloilo, Davao and Cebu, I was part of a fam trip to Brisbane, Australia sponsored by the country’s only four-star carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL) with tour escort Marijo Araneta and coordinated by Uni-Orient Travel through Jerome Mendaros. PAL is now offering daily direct flights to and from Manila and Brisbane. Gold Coast City, just an hour drive from Brisbane, has long been one of Australia’s biggest calling cards with its stunning coastal views and world-famous theme parks. I arrived prepared to gorge on its high-thrill adventures.

Capital of fun

Located in the southeast part of Australia’s Queensland state, Gold Coast was called the “capital of fun” for its sprawling theme parks, animal parks, and exciting water parks. What I had not anticipated though, was the sheer joy of trying out state-of-the-art rides in a fun place that appealed to the whole family.

We went to Dreamworld, headlined by Tower of Terror II, a contender on the list of the world’s scariest rollercoasters. I got on the Pandemonium, where I sat on an aerial carousel that swung side to side while rotating around a center column. While I was being turned upside down and screaming my lungs out, my companions were enjoying the much mellower Vintage Car Adventure and an all-ages show in Tiger Island.

To get to one of the world’s most high-tech water parks, I just walked over to the adjacent Whitewater World. Decorated as homage to the Australian beach culture, the park has waterslides, wave pools and looked like a summer paradise. I got on a crazy waterslide called Green Room, where a cloverleaf tube accelerated me from a 250-foot tunnel to a 50-foot funnel before a big drop. At the end of the day, our group went home happy with our own chosen ventures!

Out for a spin

“Are you guys ready for a spin?” asked Declan, our driver on Paradise Jet boat. “Yes, spin hard!” I yelled back at him, eliciting nervous laughs from our group. He then taught us a command with his right hand that signaled when he’d spin the boat. We’d feel butterflies in our stomachs when waves slammed our boat, shrieks of laughter were let out from riders in the back who got the most drenched.

But the highlight for me was whizzing past stunning scenery on the Broadwater, a large, shallow and calm estuary. The boat ride was impossibly pretty, passing million-dollar houses that seemed so luxe, baked in sunshine, with only boats and jet ski motor sounds to disturb the stillness. Skyrises resembled a pile of Jenga blocks that were placed alongside Gold Coast’s perfect shoreline.

On the way back to the pier, we went very slowly. Calm waters gleamed before us. I could taste salt water on my lips. These past few days, we had just experienced the thrill of rollercoasters, waterslides, and jet boating. It’s been said that every human has the desire to do something adventurous–we certainly had our fill on the Gold Coast.