It went far better than expected…
My mother and I have a wonderful relationship. We speak at least once a day – she’s a wealth of knowledge when I need advice, a pillar of strength when I’m looking for a shoulder to cry on, and basically one of my best friends.
So when I suggested a mother-daughter weekend away in Australia’s playground – the Gold Coast – I thought she’d be jumping for joy. Alas, my mother didn’t sound thrilled about the impending trip, so much so I could hear her forced smile down the end of the phone.
Then I remembered… Before I was born, my father had been offered a position on the Gold Coast. Before the job commenced, the company flew my parents up for a weekend to get a taste of the city they would soon be calling home. When they were put up in a ‘flashy’ hotel room in Surfers Paradise (aka party central/tourist trap), my parents’ dream of living in a small town by the sea seemed like a distant dream as 20-somethings in tight dresses stumbled along the streets, still partying from the night before, while they took their morning walk.
Needless to say, my parents were not happy campers, so my dad took a position elsewhere and the rest is history.
But despite my mother’s nonchalant attitude towards the destination, I was keen as mustard to spend a weekend away filled with surf, sun and sauvignon blanc. And it’s lucky I managed to rope her in, because now both my mother and I have a different view of this incredible holiday destination.
After collecting our luggage, we drove from the airport to where we’d be staying: the charming La Costa Motel. When we arrived at the cute aqua-green accommodation, we were greeted by Diane, its owner. Diane was an absolute delight who led us up to our accommodation: a spacious, clean, well-equipped apartment with an uninterrupted view of nearby Bilinga Beach. There was no task too small for Diane, and the pair of us couldn’t have felt more welcome, particularly after we noticed La Costa provides its guests with gorgeous vintage bikes so they could enjoy exploring what the Gold Coast has to offer at a relaxed pace.
The motel was far from the generic, unloved place my mother had expected, and from the time we put down our bags to the moment we left, she and I loved every minute at our sweet beachside digs.
For our first meal, my mother and I took our matching bicycles for a ride and made our way down the coastal walk to Coolangatta’s The Strand, where we had dinner at Bin 72. Before we arrived we’d heard only good things about the venue, and after taking a look at the menu and having a sip of the guava margarita cocktail with jalapeno syrup, we were sold. We feasted on Bin 72’s array of tapas dishes, including its specialty: the wickedly delicious pork belly – a perfect cut with a crispy top that’s paired with an astringent apple mustard to cut through and balance the fat. In other words: a meateater’s heaven.
After working our way through the menu and being treated like queens by the attentive staff, my darling mother and I hopped on our bicycles and headed into the night, back to our quaint little hotel, only to stuff ourselves silly all over again the next day…
After we woke on Saturday, the pair of us took the long (just joking, it was more like one minute) walk from our bedroom to the beach for a light jog to work off the feast we’d devoured the night before.
Afterwards we cycled down the coast once again, past the skilled surfers carving tracks in the waves and families enjoying a morning dip, to Café DBar for a fresh, wholesome breakfast. I practically inhaled the special of the day – baked ricotta, prosciutto, tomatoes and poached eggs – while my mother enjoyed the okonomiyaki (a Japanese pancake). Together we soaked up the bold art that filled the walls of the bustling café, as well as the unmatched 270-degree view of the Australian coastline we had from our table.
Next up on our list of fabulous beachside dining experiences was lunch at the newly opened Rick Shores.
After being greeted by one of the most handsome hosts I’ve seen in a while, my mother and I were taken to the best seat in the house – right next to the window that sits above the crashing waves. The water was so close, we felt as though the waves may just pop in to join us for lunch. The vibe was relaxed and at the same time sophisticated, with every seat in the fine-dining establishment overlooking the beach at Burleigh Heads.
The restaurant’s incredible share plates were full of fresh Asian-influenced flavors. My mother and I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear as we demolished freshly shucked oysters, ‘Ricks’ fried Moreton Bay bug roll, a light salad and some impeccable white wine to match. By this stage of the weekend, we were happier than pigs in mud, and I was beginning to feel as though it may be a struggle to get her to leave this paradise.
After an afternoon exploring Tallebudgera Creek and inlet on stand-up paddleboards with the Action Outdoor Hire crew, we knew we’d earned ourselves a cocktail, so we headed to the hip and bright Tupe-Aloha for a Mexican fiesta dinner.
On Sunday, much to my mother’s delight, we discovered there’s far more to do in the Gold Coast than surfing, visiting theme parks and dining at first-class eateries. In fact, it’s host to two of our fave activities: shopping and wine tasting – and, better yet, it offers some of the best in Queensland.
We began with a morning stroll along Burleigh Head’s The Village Markets. We took our time trying on fine handmade silver jewels, tasting healthy home-cooked creations and purchasing a few locally made pieces for our wardrobes.
Soon enough, we’d declared it to be wine time. Nestled in the hills just northwest of the Gold Coast lies Tamborine Mountain and the Scenic Rim, home to a tremendous selection of prize-winning wineries and cellar doors – so off we went.
We started our adventure at Mason Wines and left with a case of champagne and subtle oak chardonnay; we had to resist the urge to buy any more than that, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to carry our luggage back to the airport!
Next up was a wine tasting with the lovely Heidi at Witches Falls, where we enjoyed sipping away on the brand’s prized collection in the beautifully manicured gardens. The two of us were also fortunate enough to taste Witches Falls’ upcoming 2016 collection, which is due to be bottled in the coming weeks. Despite our mouthful being a little premature, its bold flavors were a treat to the palate.
The final destination on our Gold Coast adventure, to the historic O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards, was bittersweet. Both my mother and I were relishing in the beauty of the region, the friendly people and the amazing eateries we’d been lucky enough to stumble upon, so the thought of visiting our last winery and hopping back on a plane was heartbreaking.
After a quick wine tasting in the old Queenslander homestead, we ventured down to the creek for O’Reilly’s much-talked-about picnic lunch, in which we grazed on premium antipasti, dips and cheese, and polished off a glass of wine.
Together, by the creek, we chatted away about the highlights of the weekend. Mine: our gorgeous little bikes, full of character, that had allowed us to travel up and down the beaches to yummy restaurants. My mother’s: paddleboarding, wine tasting and discovering the beauty of the Gold Coast she never knew existed.
We made our way back down the mountain, both wishing the weekend could be eternal, and after dropping off the car and waving goodbye to Diane, we made our way to the airport. Nothing could have prepared us for such an enjoyable and wonderful weekend in one of the most friendly and diverse destinations imaginable.
There’s no doubt in my mind that if my parents had experienced the mother-daughter weekend we just had back in the ’80s, I’d be calling the Gold Coast home.
Images courtesy of bin72.com.au and Gold Coast Tourism.
Comment: What’s your all-time fave destination?
Isabelle is a writer who has a hundred-and-one side-splittingly funny stories about growing up at an all-girls boarding school, with a chocolate habit that requires constant monitoring. Follow Isabelle on Twitter.