Surfers Paradise might have the bling, Broadbeach the casino and Bilinga the airport (even if it says Coolangatta on the sign), but when it comes to community spirit, Burleigh Heads wins, hands down.
Often celebrated as a throwback to the Gold Coast of old, this iconic postcode’s mix of coast and cool – but not too cool – lures many to the region. Some love it so much they stay and start new lives (and businesses) here.
Here’s a hit-list of addresses to help you make the most of your visit to a special stretch of coastline.
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Ease into your Burleigh getaway at this cafe from the crew behind Melbourne’s Inglewood Coffee Roasters. In addition to good coffee, Crew offers a menu of cafe standards given an appropriately sunny Gold Coast remix: hefty burgers, smashed-avo toast on thick-cut bread, and colourful bowls of chia pudding. The airy, whitewashed space channels a similar beachside vibe while the cafe’s location on Connor Street overlooking Memorial Park is perfect for people-watching.
Named after owners Karla Munoz Labart and chef Alex Munoz Labart – who once upon a time worked the pans at Cirrus Dining and Monopole in Sydney – Labart is a thrilling addition to the region’s dining options. While an a la carte menu is available during the day, investing in the five-course set menu (available at lunch and dinner) is the way to take the temperature of a kitchen doing things differently, whether it’s deploying a house-made beurre noisette butter with Burleigh Baker bread, using charcoal and kombu paste to extract maximum flavour from grilled pumpkin, or reinventing surf’n’turf by saucing barbequed king brown mushrooms with lobster broth.
Stay at Bon Sol
Staying at Bon Sol will trigger deja vu in the best possible way for those familiar with Brisbane designer Anna Spiro’s retro-coastal work on Mr Percival’s and Cabarita’s Halcyon House. Spiro’s love of vintage design and colour shines through at these beachfront apartments big on bold ’70s-era styling and thoughtful touches (here’s to you, private sun lounger). After sunset, Bon Sol’s location on the Esplanade puts you within striking distance of the suburb’s great eats and drinks.
Explore Burleigh Head National Park
Before it was Burleigh Heads, this part of the world was known as Jellurgal – “the place of honey” in the Indigenous Kombumerri language. That abundance is on full display when you bushwalk through Burleigh Head National Park, with its 27 hectares of rainforest, eucalyptus forest, and coastal heath and mangroves. There’s plenty of wildlife too, whether it be butterflies in the warmer months or humpback whales, whose winter migration can often be spotted from the trail’s brilliant coastal lookouts.
Burleigh Heads National Park
Open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, this buzzing night market brings together international street food vendors, live music and good drinks (not least its signature purple-hued Margaritas). The menu runs from woodfired pizza and tacos and tortillas through to Japanese favourites a la karaage chicken and teppanyaki noodles. Vegan options are also available. The music and entertainment line-up is just as diverse and takes in everything from country music to drag queen bingo.
The fun of dining at Iku begins before you even arrive; guests need to find the unmarked entrance to this Japanese yakitori restaurant. Rest assured your curiosity will be rewarded. Whether you opt for the omakase menu or choose to sit in the whisky bar where you can road-test a menu of grilled chicken bits on sticks – cartilage, heart or chicken tail (also known as the parson’s nose) – book ahead to secure a seat at this Tokyo-perfect diner. Pro tip: drop in on Mondays for its tonkotsu ramen night.
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