Inside Gold Coast - November 2020

Candice Dixon is the local Gold Coast lass who beamed onto our screen across Australia every Saturday morning via Saturday Disney. From America’s most famous Mouse to Australia’s most famous marsupial, Candice now spends her time educating the public about the fantastic work completed every day at one of the world’s busiest animal hospitals, Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. We caught up with Candice to hear about how we can help our beautiful wildlife and where you’ll find her outside of her busy schedule.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I was born and raised on the Gold Coast and relocated to Sydney when I was 21 to start hosting a show called Saturday Disneyfor Channel 7 which was a mix between entertainment reporting, lifestyle/travel presenting and acting. I commuted home once a week because I missed my family and friends on the Gold Coast so much!

What do you love most about living here?
The ocean. I travelled the world looking for something that would come close to the paradise I grew up with and I never found anything quite as special as our beaches.

Tell us about what you do at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary?
I’m so honoured to be the Social Media & Content Producer for Currumbin Wildlife Hospital which is located on the grounds of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. I always dreamed of giving a voice to animals and even though I tried to focus on animal stories at Channel 7, I never came close to this kind of animal protection, it’s a whole other level!

What are some of the best things about your job?
The fact that I have been able to actually save wildlife, it hasn’t been a pie in the sky idea, I have seen results immediately which is more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. It’s a lot easier than I thought to make a difference, we just need to be educated. For example, it only costs $100 to cover the cost of milk formula needed to hand raise an orphaned possum or $400 to repair a turtle’s broken shell. I’ve always had a calling to help koalas but I never realised the extent of that calling until I started at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. I never quite understood the difficulties they’re facing in the wild and seeing it first-hand every day has been very difficult. I was shocked to realise that so many koalas in the wild were dying from chlamydia. More than half of the patients admitted into Currumbin Wildlife Hospital were suffering from this horrible disease, even the infant koala joeys! The good news is that koala patients at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital are now being vaccinated against chlamydia so we are moving in the right direction.

On a lighter note, I have taken so many incredible people through the doors of Currumbin Wildlife Hospital including Iggy Azalea; Mick Fanning; Isabel Lucas; Emmy Rossum; Elsa Pataky and the Hemsworths’ extended family to name a few! Global awareness is key and people with high profiles have been able to make an immediate difference to Australian wildlife by empowering their audiences to support the cause.

Tell us about the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital…
Currumbin Wildlife Hospital opened 31 years ago and has grown to be one of the busiest wildlife hospitals in the world. It admits over 12,000 animals a year, including almost 600 koalas. The Currumbin Wildlife Hospital’s mission is to treat, rehabilitate and release sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife and is a service that is provided free of charge to the community. There have been over 125,000 admissions in the hospital over the last 20 years and this figure continues to rise. The Currumbin Wildlife Hospital relies on community donations to continue its vital work. You can follow the patient stories online. Our two most popular channels are Instagram: @currumbinwildlifehospital & Facebook: @currumbinwildlifehospitalfoundation.

You’re also a presenter on Channel 7’s Sydney Weekender, talk to us about what that entails?
After six years hosting for Saturday Disney, I was able to move next door into the Sydney Weekender office. The major change was that we were able to have a cocktail on TV! I was so excited to be working with a familiar crew and exploring parts of NSW I never even knew existed. My Mum is from Sydney so I absolutely love travelling around Sydney and learning about my family history.

What have been some of the highlights of that role?
I love presenting for Sydney Weekender because each story feels like a holiday! Some highlights have included: swimming with Grey Nurse Sharks, visiting animal shelters and sailing around Sydney Harbour. The Eating Out segments are very indulgent, and you end up eating your way through nearly 10 plates by the end of the shoot. Even when the cameras stop, I make sure I test every last plate… it’s a tough segment but someone has to do it!

How can Gold Coasters support the work of the wildlife hospital?
The Currumbin Wildlife Hospital can only keep its doors open thanks to the generosity of its supporters and being chosen as the charity of choice for major events. I’m so thrilled to be working on the upcoming major event: Gold Coast Beach Parade. It’s taking place at Burleigh Heads on May 16, 2021) Our aim is to set the World Record for the world’s biggest beach parade with people wearing Koala Ear visors. It’s a community event for people of all ages and each entry will benefit Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.

It’s such an exciting event because it will draw the world’s attention to Queensland’s healthy beach lifestyle and culture while raising awareness for our precious koalas and wildlife. Last time the Gold Coast staged this event in 2011, it was voted to have the best beaches in the world by Expedia. People can start registering their interest now at See you there!!

Tell us your favourites on the Coast:
Restaurant for dinner: I love Rosella’s in Burleigh because of the relaxed social vibe. I go there a lot with my friends and we all order the ‘Blinky Bill’ cocktail not only because it’s delicious but because $2 from every sale goes to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. I also love Greenhouse Canteen, they have the most generous serving sizes and you always walk away feeling amazing from eating all the plants.
Cafe for breakfast:  I love any vegetarian cafes and I always like to change it up. I love The Milkman’s Daughter and often dream about their Lemon Ricotta (vegan) Pancakes. I also can’t wait to go to Tarte for their all-day breakfast. Breakfast is by far my favourite meal and their menu is top-notch!
Coffee spot: I love matcha lattes and usually get takeaway so I can sit on the beach. Niche & Co in Tugun has the best matcha latte and I always have to order large because I cannot get enough of it!
How does your weekend usually look: Ocean swimming, health food stores and yoga are top of my priority list for the weekend. I love driving along the coastline listening to music and I usually stop off at Kurrawa Beach as my Dad runs the beach volleyball there. After getting enough sun and fresh air, I’ll meet up with my best friend who lives next to Burleigh Pavilion. We’ll head there for sunset and to eat guacamole. Tropical living is the way to go!!

The content filmed on the March 6 will be used on social media, the official website and potential news coverage in order to encourage participation in the event.