Gold Coast secrets that most visitors don’t know about

Travel News from Stuff - 08-05-2023

You’ll barely recognise the Gold Coast if you haven’t been for a while.

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The new and improved version isn’t quite so in-your-face, so be sure to seek out its secrets, from hidden speak-easy bars to retro motels and revamped industrial areas.

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You’re going to have look hard because the new brand of Gold Coast restaurateur is letting their food have top billing.

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Two of the region’s best eateries – North Room and Etsu – have nondescript shopfronts and are located right on the Gold Coast Highway, while the region’s most celebrated chef, Alex Munoz, serves his fare in a small Parisian-style bistro off Burleigh Head’s main street (Restaurant Labart) round the corner from the best Japanese, accessed via a secret back door entrance (Oi Izakaya).

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Other favourites, like Eddy + Wolff and Social Eating House + Bar, are located in the middle of shopping areas (Robina and Broadbeach respectively).

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Miami may get all the attention for the make-over of its industrial area (former mechanic workshops and panel beaters are now some of the region’s hippest cafés, craft breweries as well as live music arena/ designer hub, Miami Marketta) but look a further south and you’ll find the same thing happening in Currumbin Waters.

Surfboard factories and auto-electrician workshops are now home to the Gold Coast’s most innovative cafés, like Dust Temple, a café/art gallery and live music venue, or Balter Brewery, who make Australia’s number-one rated beer.

There’s wine bars, vegan restaurants and cafés/restaurants like Stone’s Throw where the Gold Coast’s most renowned professional surfers eat.

The Gold Coast Hinterland is home to some of the oldest remaining tracts of subtropical rainforest on Earth. But you don’t have to even drive that far to escape into wilderness.

Drive on the most stunning scenic road in south-east Queensland for less than 20 kilometres inland from Currumbin and you’ll find Currumbin Valley, home to rock pools you can swim in, organic farm stores and cafés set deep in the bush.

Cougal Cascades is located at the end of the valley, 20 minutes drive from the beach. It’s part of World Heritage-listed Springbrook National Park, with a 1.6-kilometre paved trail through rainforest, beside cascades.

Only a few kilometres north, there’s another scenic drive to the end of Tallebudgera Valley, where mountains loom above and there are waterholes to swim at, and hiking trails through rainforest.

When you think of the Gold Coast, you’re probably picturing modern high-rises beside the beach, right? But the southern Gold Coast has become a hub for some of Australia’s best retro-style motels.

It started in 2018 with The Pink Hotel, in Coolangatta, a remodelled 1950s motel painted in garish cotton-candy pink, with a beachfront rooftop, individually-styled rooms and a secret piano bar disguised as a janitor’s closet.

Just around the corner in Bilinga, that got an overhaul. Occupying prime beachfront position, it has a magnesium pool and faux lawn where musicians play facing the waves.

Two streets over, La Costa Motel recreates the 1960s beach shack while two suburbs north, the Mysa Motel with its Palm Springs-style styling and kidney-shaped pool was fashioned from a 1960s motel.

Want a cheap beer, with a decent-priced meal, with a multi-million-dollar view? There is a surf club built right on the beach in almost every beach-side suburb on the Gold Coast, occupying the most exclusive real estate on the coast.

Starting south at Coolangatta the trend continues for over 50 kilometres to Southport Surf Club. Some like Currumbin are built so close that at high tide on a big sea, the carpark isn’t safe for parking.

Other surf clubs, like Nobby Beach Surf Club, are the only beachfront restaurant in one of the Gold Coast’s most desirable beachside suburbs. Proceeds go towards to volunteer lifeguards who patrol the beaches.

The Gold Coast used to be full of big sports bars selling XXXX beer with plenty of TVs for the footie, and the horse races. No more, now its best bars are hard to find.

Taking the cue from Melbourne’s secret laneway bars, you’ll have to know where to go to truly embrace the Gold Coast nightlife.

Bars like Lockwood, hidden behind a big red door in Burleigh Heads, require you text to enter. Palm Beach’s Suga has no sign, but serves over 60 varieties of rum. Veladora in Broadbeach requires you solve a riddle to get there, while many others like Scottish Prince, The Cambus Wallace and Naami are tucked away with no signage, beside takeaway joints.

Air New Zealand and Jetstar operate multiple direct flights per week from New Zealand to the Gold Coast (Coolangatta). See: ;

Flying generates carbon emissions. To reduce your impact, consider other ways of travelling, amalgamate your trips, and when you need to fly, consider offsetting emissions.

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