Escape to the coast and country
Two days on the Gold Coast can deliver vastly different experiences.
Your do not have to choose between a seaside getaway and country escape when visiting the Gold Coast.
I sampled the best of both options over two days, proving you can enjoy the beach and the bush despite being pushed for time, rather than choosing between the two.
The coastal experience centred on Kirra and Coolangatta on the southern end of the tourist strip and included visits to Palm Beach and Burleigh Heads, just short drives down the Gold Coast Highway.
The southern end’s reputation for being a much quieter part of the Gold Coast is working in its favour with an increasing number of visitors making it their holiday base.
After checking into Iconic Kirra Beach Resort (pictured above), it was obvious why.
The outlook from the large balcony of our 12th-floor, two-bedroom unit delivered stunning views over Kirra Beach to the distant Surfers Paradise skyline.
The spacious, well-appointed apartment is a destination on its own but there was much to explore.
After fuelling up with breakfast and coffee at nearby Cafe Allsorts, we wandered across the road for a morning walk along beautiful Kirra Beach, feeling jealous of the locals who get to enjoy the experience every day.
A longer stay on the beach was tempting, however we had set a busy schedule.
Next stop was Burleigh Heads where we were drawn to the James Street shopping precinct – an eclectic mix of people and shops.
If browsing boutique stores for clothes, arts and crafts, souvenirs or gifts isn’t your thing, pick up a coffee or juice and simply soak up James Street’s relaxed, come-asyou-are vibe which is clearly embraced by holidaymakers and locals.
After lunch at Palm Beach’s The Collective – a food hub of Italian, Asian, Greek, American and Mexican kitchens – we began a self-guided tour of the Gold Coast’s craft brewery scene.
First shout was at Black Hops Brewing which was started at Burleigh Heads by three mates – Dan Norris, Eddie Oldfield and Michael McGovern – about five years ago.
Black Hops has expanded its operations to Biggera Waters and East Brisbane with the Burleigh Heads venue also growing to include a stylish new taproom featuring brews from its offshoot AWOL brand.
Our self-guided tour also took in Lost Palms Brewing in Miami and Balter Brewing in Currumbin Waters which also come highly recommended for their quality ranges of craft beer in relaxed, industrial settings.
Day two saw us make the move from coast to country and from tasting craft beer to wine, fuelled by a delicious breakfast at Tugun’s very popular Stable Coffee Kitchen.
At Mount Nathan Winery, west of Nerang and about 40 minutes from Kirra, Director Paul Gibson tempted us with samples of some of his most popular drops.
The family-run business has operated for nearly 20 years at Mount Nathan, making premium wines using grapes grown in south-east Queensland.
Mount Nathan’s signature honey wines are produced entirely on site, from the collecting of honey from hives on the property through to bottling.
Paul was more than happy to indulge my wine-tasting inexperience, explaining what I was enjoying with descriptive phrases like “softly popping bubbles on the tongue” and “fruitiness meets spiciness”.
He is more than happy to share his expertise with less-knowledgeable visitors, like myself.
“At the moment, our visitors are very much the average punter, which I love because it means I don’t need to get all viticultural and scientific and start altering my vocabulary,” Paul said.
“It just means I can start serving people and talk to them.”
With my taste buds tempted and our knowledge of wine enhanced, my designated driver and I headed for O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards, about 25 minutes away, where a second tasting awaited.
A paddle of five wines was enjoyed with a pre-ordered picnic hamper on the veranda of the 160-year-old Killowen homestead, overlooking the vineyards – an experience to be savoured.
The country feel ramped up driving to our accommodation and the final stop on our trip.
Country Mile Escape is on a working 30ha cattle property in the beautiful Flying Fox Valley, about 15 minutes from Canungra.
It offers two-bedroom (The Aerial) and one-bedroom (The Shae) studios and both deliver the three most important elements of a country escape – peace, quiet and privacy.
The studios were designed and decorated by owner Trish Wilson and include furniture she sourced and restored.
Her personal touches, including displays of fresh flowers from her garden, bring old-world charm to buildings which have been standing for just five years and were adapted from a steel-framed shed design.
An afternoon and night in The Aerial was nowhere near long enough but it was the perfect way to end two days sampling a memorable “coast and country” experience, leaving us with a thirst for more and a hunger to return soon.