Charlotte Carter discovers the new age of the Gold Coast; great food, culture and accessibility.
Often the Gold Coast gets a bad wrap.
Many people still have the notion that it's a little bit tacky, perhaps, and associate it with flashy nightclubs, plenty of tourists and mediocre beach-side dining - think surf 'n turf and Sizzlers.
While parts of Surfers Paradise might still hold true to the aforementioned stereotypes, there is so much more to the Gold Coast if you know where to look and the 2018 Commonwealth Games further revitalised the often overlooked holiday spot.
Having stayed in Currumbin a year ago and loving every moment of the tranquil escape, I headed back to the Gold Coast in April and this time, stayed in amongst the hustle and bustle of Broadbeach.
Getting around during my four day stay was a breeze with the newly completed G: Link light rail system that services a 13km stretch of the Gold Coast.
It is the biggest transport infrastructure project ever undertaken on the Gold Coast. It is Queensland's first ever light rail system and was a very modern and easy way to get around during our trip.
I was wowed a number of times during my trip by the calibre of the new restaurants and bars that are scattered liberally around the area. It seems the Gold Coast has nailed two things: rooftop and Asian fusion dining.
We took the G:Link down to Southport and visited Mr P.P's Deli and Rooftop Bar before the Commonwealth Games swimming finals and it was the perfect spot for a few cocktails and a bite to eat — sitting on the rooftop meaning we were able to soak up the last of the sun.
The menu boasts a range of well curated platters, antipasti and woodfired pizzas and everything is designed to share. The platters were definitely the stars of the show, with well thought out combinations of quality cheeses, fruit pastes and cured meats.
The following morning, we were up early and headed to Tweed Heads and plunged straight into some amazing snorkelling just off Cook Island near Tweed Heads.
After several hours of following turtles, reef sharks and tropical fish around the island, our party was very ready for hot coffee and a hearty breakfast at rooftop Cafe Dbar in Coolangatta.
The food was incredible, offering cafe brunch favourites with unique twists. For instance; rustic farmhouse herb avocado, persian feta, bacon, cherry tomato and chilli salsa on sourdough, washed down with freshly squeezed juices. Everybody left perked up and ready to explore.
Later that day I relished having a few hours to myself and wandered down to Broadbeach, where I lay down my towel and settled in for some people watching. This was one of the main hubs during the games so it was a little too busy for my liking. However I was delighted to be down on any beach with the sun beating down, knowing Auckland was being battered by a destructive storm at that very minute.
Another stand-out dining experience came the next evening at Asian fusion/street food eatery, Hideaway Kitchen and Bar in Broadbeach.
Our group opted for the 'taste the chef' option and the food was stunning yet unpretentious.
Highlights included the waygu beef skewers, the me goreng and the sticky lamb ribs, while the beef rendang was one of the tastiest I've ever eaten.
There really is something for everyone on the Gold Coast and with it's fantastic climate (23 degrees in May, anyone?), the ease and low price to get there, you've got no excuse but to give it another chance.
Recommendations for the GC:
If you are after a more relaxed holiday on the Gold Coast, book your accomodation down in Currumbin. It offers a tranquil, slower pace and the beach is one of the most beautiful on the coast in my opinion. There is also a world renowned wildlife sanctuary which would be a hit with the kids.
Further up, Burleigh Heads offers another vibe altogether. It is the younger, cooler cousin on the Coast with a good range of clothing boutiques, fun eateries and a wide sprawling beach with plenty of space to lay your towel.
A swim or paddleboard at Tallebudgera Creek in Palm Beach is also a must do! Especially if you have got the wee ones with you.
The G: Link is excellent for zipping up and down the Gold Coast and very reasonably priced at up to $4 depending on how many zones you're travelling.
The Avani Broadbeach was the perfect home away from home. It opened just in time for the Commonwealth Games and was crisp, clean and modern. The kitchen was well equipped and offered all the mod cons - including a Nespresso machine. Hotel staff were hugely accomodating and the pool was a great place to hang out, with comfortable lounging beds scattered around the perimeter.