The Best Bits Of The Goldie

DRIVEN

Issue 1 2014


Iconic beaches, top-notch cuisine and the gorgeous hinterland – that’s how we roll through the Gold Coast – or glide thanks to the new Peugeot 2008, writes Tatyana Leonov

 

I’m no longer glitzy and glamorous (some would argue I never was), yet I’m not that woman with kids, schedules and regimented routines. I’m the in-between. The undecided. The too young for bingo, too old for nightclubs.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the sophisticated, sexy Gold Coast. The Gold Coast where young things flock, the one where all bodies are toned, tanned and spectacular. And it’s never cold (or so it seems based on what the young trendy things wear anyway).

Years ago I travelled to the Gold Coast for Schoolies (I was probably too young, but I thought I was as sophisticated as they come). My heels were the biggest I’ve [ever] owned, my tan was the darkest (or maybe the orange-est) it’s even been, my eyelashes were hideously long. I [thought I] was the queen of suave.

But enough reminiscing. Last year I got married and there’s talk about kids one day. Not today, not tomorrow, but one day. And our next holiday was practice for that day – we had borrowed a kid. I wanted to holiday in a glitzy location that is still kid-friendly. I wanted a car that was sexy but kid-friendly.

The Gold Coast was booked. The new Peugeot 2008 fueled. A borrowed kid. No theme parks. The idea was we would take a short-ish drive (you know kids and all, they get tired) sampling the iconic beaches, top-notch cuisine and the gorgeous hinterland – a road trip that would encompass The Goldie’s best bits.

Starting at the family-friendly Coolangatta for brekkie, we’d travel north along the Gold Coast Highway, passing Currumbin, Palm Beach, Burleigh Heads, Miami, Mermaid Beach, Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise, then onwards onto the Pacific Highway, taking a left exit to Mt Tamborine in time for sunset. Our version of the 70-kilometre or-so trip is estimated to take around an hour-and-a-half – but we wanted to take a day. Life in the slow lane, in my opinion, is always more fun.

Sunday mornings are made for big breakfasts, even larger juices, sunrise surfs, creamy lattes and jogs along the beach (probably not in that order). And in Queensland mornings happen early... Even I was surprised how early Queenslanders get up.

Coolangatta is the gateway to the Gold Coast, conveniently located around five minutes drive from Gold Coast airport – ideal for those who like fly-drive holidays (which lets face it, is a fantastic way to explore our vast land), and booked a stay at the Sebel Coolangatta so we could get off on the right foot. The 15-storey serviced apartments complex is located a few minutes from the beach, and some of the spacious apartments have dazzling water views. Did I mention borrowed kid got his own bedroom? First win!

We woke early on Sunday and opted to drive to Snapper Rocks to watch the sunrise. Watching the waves crash into the rocky outcrop as the glistening sun rose was an invigorating start to the day.

A couple of kilometres north, Kirra Beach is the southern- most surf beach in Queensland. Some say it’s one of the best surf beaches in Australia and it regularly hosts the Billabong Pro Surfing Competition. Kirra Beach is also relatively quiet compared to some of the other Goldie beaches, so it’s popular with families (my husband and I fit in very well with our borrowed kid).

We had a top breakfast at Kirramisu Café. Think runny poached eggs, buttery mushrooms and juicy tomatoes served atop freshly toasted sourdough. Owner Emma Collingwood has headed up the café for over six years and runs the place with the help of her family. She seeks out local produce where possible and focuses on consistency, which is why the same people keep coming back. Another surfing hot spot, Burleigh Heads, is the mid-point between Coolangatta and Surfers Paradise – and our mid point for a swim and a feed. Burleigh is a favourite among those who like their peace and quiet with a dash of buzz thrown in. It’s less tourist-ridden than iconic Surfers, but busy enough to keep families entertained for days. Like Kirra, Burleigh is notorious for its surf break, but if surfing is not your cup of tea, The Point headland is a top spot to watch the action. Not into water at all? The bustling James Street is home to a variety of cafés and restaurants, ice-cream parlours and shops.

Anyone who knows their Gold Coast food scene knows they need to book ahead to dine at Oskars on Burleigh. And what a treat! An entrée of delicately seared Hervey Bay scallops served inside creamed leek tartlets, gussied up with caramelised fennel and butter is a taste sensation, while a main of Moreton Bay bugs is enjoyed by all – the gastronomes (hubby and I) as well as the mini addition who loves getting his hands dirty.

Hands washed, we drive along the Gold Coast Highway to Surfers Paradise. The breathtaking skyline and buzzy atmosphere is why people come to Surfers, the attractions, events and facilities is why people stay (over 40 per cent of the Gold Coast’s accommodation is located at Surfers). There is something for everyone at Surfers Paradise – market stalls, 14 different shopping centres and arcades, and a plethora of dining options.

The waterside Helm Bar & Bistro is a newbie doing well (they opened in March 2013). The contemporary nautical design scheme (think traditional stripes with pops of colour inserted into the equation) was done by peckvonhartel, the same guys who designed Jamie’s Italian restaurant in Sydney. The classic bistro-style menu pays homage to good, fresh food – rustic pizzas, hefty share platters and jazzed-up cocktails. And kids aren’t forgotten with their own ‘Pirate Pete’s kids menu’ and iPads to keep them entertained.

Surfers Paradise is abuzz with energy day and night, and it’s even better from above. Standing 270 metres above sea level, SkyPoint Climb is Australia’s highest external building climb – and kids over 12 can do it too (our borrowed kid just made the cut and loved the experience). Once you get to the top you are met with unsurpassed views of golden sand, azure blue waters and the jagged Gold Coast cityscape – a truly impressive sight!

On the opposite end of the scale is the Gold Coast’s Hinterland – luscious greenery, quaint little towns, charming shops and chatty locals with quirky tales to tell – just a mere 30 minutes from the glamorous coastal strip.

Sticking to the waterside we pass Southport, Labrador and Runaway Bay, following the signs to Sanctuary Cove and onwards in the direction of the Pacific Highway and Brisbane, taking a left exit for Mt Tamborine – our sunset destination.

The township of Mt Tamborine is a quirky-cool delight of oddity. Fudge shops, a cuckoo clock store, and a quaint teashop that claims to stock Australia’s largest selection of quality loose- leaf tea are some of the eccentric finds here. Although Main Street isn’t massive, you could spend hours wandering in and out of the boutique shops chatting to locals and sampling the delicacies on offer. We learn that Fudge Heaven really is a paradise of sorts – it’s the best fudge I’ve ever tasted (and the walls are adjourned with a bunch of awards proving that others agree). At Tamborine Tea (the tea shop with a zillion teas), we chat to owner Louise about her teas and walk away with a bag full.

We don’t get to Mt Tamborine Glowworm Caves, we do however stop on a non-descript corner and purchase fresh avocados and kale straight from someone’s backyard. We don’t [unfortunately] pull over at one of the many wineries I eye off, but we do finally get to the Mt Tamborine escarpment for sunset. Couples carrying cutesy picnic baskets with cheese and wine settle in, families with robust fold-up chairs and chock-full snack boxes set up, a wedding party giggles and poses as they clink their champagne glasses again and again. Although we’ve only got avocado and kale, borrowed kid seems pleased enough (he has eaten very well).

We park our 2008 and join the others for what turns out to be one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen. As the glistening sun gradually slips away into the dusky evening, a brilliant orange swathes the sky. The carroty hue becomes a vibrant purple, then finally, as the suns shimmer disappears into the horizon, the purple develops into a deep, dark blue. People start to leave and we begin to pack up too. For us the day has ended, but for others at the Gold Coast the night has just begun.

 

Fact file 

> getting there

Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin Australia and Tiger Airways Australia fly in and out of the Gold Coast from various Australian locations.

> visiting there 

Year-round pleasant temperatures make the Gold Coast a yearly destination. Summers are buzzing, winters are peaceful, and the in-between seasons are particularly pleasant. Avoid school holidays if you’re seeking peace and quiet. If travelling with kids during the holidays, be sure to book ahead.

> staying there

Coolangatta: The Sebel Coolangatta (accorhotels.com), is family-friendly place to stay in a quiet, beautiful location.

Surfers paradise: The new Paradise Resort Gold Coast (paradiseresort.com.au), fit out with a waterpark and ice rink, is a kid’s cloud nine. For an eccentric design stay, QT (qtgoldcoast.com.au) is ultra snazzy, and Palazzo Versace is ideal for the ultimate luxe experience (palazzoversace. com.au).

Mt Tamborine: There’s everything from rainforest spa resorts and bed and breakfasts, to hotels, motels and cottages. use discovertamborine.com.au to pick an option that suits.

> eating there

 kirramisu (kirramisu.com.au) on Kirra Beach for big, delicious, hearty breakfasts and lunches. Oskars on Burleigh (oskars.com.au) for luscious-tasting, beautifully- presented food.

In Surfers Paradise there are a heap of options, but QT’s onsite restaurant, Bazaar (qtgoldcoast.com.au/food-drink/ bazaar), is a buffet that goes above and beyond the usual buffets with cook-to-order stations and a cornucopia of exotic dishes on offer. The riverside Helm Bar & Bistro (helmbarsurfers.com.au) is great when there’s a group to please with plenty of classic top-grade choices.

At Mt Tamborine it’s all about snacking. Creamy fudge at fudge Heaven (fudgeheaven.com.au) is divine, even better teamed with loose-leaf tea from Tamborine Tea (tamborinetea.com.au).

>going there

Swim, surf, relax, unwind, eat. Start over. Watch everyone else do it too from the viewing deck atop the Skypoint (skypoint.com.au).

For more information visit visitgoldcoast.com