The girl with the long auburn hair and blue striped singlet top is strumming out an Oasis number on the small stage at the end of the bar. ‘You’re my Wonderwaaaall’ she’s crooning to a few early arrivers. It’s Wednesday evening and the Coolangatta Hotel, or The Cooly, as the locals know it, is hardly rocking. But for now though, it’s the perfect spot to feed and revive tired children, and it’s just what’s needed to get a few days in Coolangatta with the kids kick started.
Named after a shipwreck in 1846, Coolangatta is the southernmost point of Queensland’s iconic Gold Coast and the last hoorah before travellers head over the Tweed River and into NSW. It’s a popular destination for surfers, retirees, and families given its wide white sandy beaches, robust surfing waves, and an abundance of chic and cheap eating experiences.
For a relaxing, child friendly breakfast by the beach Bellakai offers scrumptious variety and welcoming service. Later in the day if there’s a scream for ice-cream the Cold Rock Café and Gelatissimo specialise while there’s also Raw Energy juice bar for a healthy boost.
As a parent it also pays to know where the good coffee is too. Head up Boundary Road towards Point Danger to espresso cafes with character Drift and Little Mali or opposite Coolangatta Beach to a pint-size dig called The Black Sheep.
For an evening spread, order barramundi at Gordon’s by the Beach and stroll across to Queen Elizabeth Park as an easy way to take in cool coastal breezes and ocean views. This park runs parallel to the main beach area and marks the site where Queen Elizabeth II watched the local surf lifesaving competition in 1963.
In fact Coolangatta has had its fair share of significant celebrity visits. Captain Cook floated past on his way up the East coast in 1770, while Prince Charles charmed locals on his stopover in 1974 when he stripped to bathers and hit the waves.
For families who love a bit of surf and sand, Coolangatta, Greenmount or Rainbow Bay beaches are popular spots with flags. The walking/cycling paths connecting these inlets also offer some great viewing sites to watch the myriad of surfers try their skills on the breakers around Snapper Rocks.
If the wind is up, take a walk over to NSW (literally it’s just across the road) and enjoy the parkland next to the Tweed River. Chill out and watch the children paddle in the still sandy waters as boats big and small navigate their way out to sea.
A week doesn’t seem long enough in Coolangatta and it’s easy to see why families make this an annual get away. Driving away under the old Norfolk Pines on Marine Parade, past the Gold Coast International Airport and onto the Pacific highway to head home, Oasis lyrics still linger in the air: ‘I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now’ drift the words. Right now its easy to feel a genuine, long lasting fondness for this part of the world. Bring on the next summer holidays.