Re­vis­it­ing the Gold Coast’s Palm Beach

Australian Traveller - - Contents -

THERE WAS A TIME when you would have had ab­so­lutely no rea­son to stop as you drove through Palm Beach. Sit­ting like the for­got­ten mid­dle child be­tween Coolan­gatta – on the Gold Coast’s south­ern border with New South Wales – and its hip older sis­ter, Burleigh Heads to its north, Palm Beach was at one time known more for its nee­dle ex­change site than a buzzing cafe scene. Strad­dling both sides of the Gold Coast high­way with a num­bered sys­tem of street names that’s more Santa Mon­ica than Queens­land, ‘Palmy’, as it’s af­fec­tion­ately known, was al­ways a bit rough around the edges, even in the 1870s when the area was designated pas­toral land. The South Coast rail­way didn’t even stop there un­til 1922, when it was still part of Elanora. A sub­di­vi­sion by the Palm Beach Com­pany Ltd was what led to the beach­side ’hood gain­ing its own name and sub­se­quently, fi­bro hol­i­day homes started sprout­ing along Jef­fer­son Lane. It was the af­ford­able dream – in the early ’60s The Truth news­pa­per in Brisbane ad­ver­tised ‘hol­i­day homes for the work­ing man’ with blocks of land up for sale, with ‘what­ever de­posit suits you’. But within the last few years, this suburb has been gen­tri­fied quicker than you can say “Range Rover” and a new wave of dis­cern­ing young res­i­dents has washed in. New lux­ury apart­ment de­vel­op­ments are tak­ing over cor­ner blocks and real es­tate prices are sky­rock­et­ing. “When my friends heard I was mov­ing to Palm Beach they were like, ‘oh no, it’s dan­ger­ous, there are gangs, you can’t move there,’” man­ager Lud­mila Achurch says as she sets down our meals at The Blue Door on 5th, a new restaurant fas­tid­i­ous about or­ganic, local pro­duce. “But it feels like a vil­lage, you know... I love it,” she fin­ishes. “Palm Beach is re­ally com­ing good,” says Jeremy David­son, co-founder of The Col­lec­tive eat­ing house. “It’s ex­cit­ing as a local here, you can ac­tu­ally go bar-hop­ping in Palm Beach! There’s a bit of a funky dining scene emerg­ing as well – great op­er­a­tors who have built their way up in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try on the coast and are now start­ing to go ‘we’re go­ing to move to Palm Beach and do our own thing’.” That’s what’s led to a spate of open­ings within the past 12 months, so many, in fact, that you’ll be hard pressed to fit ev­ery­thing into a week­end. Start with th­ese local haunts and see how you go.

CLOCKWISE FROM THIS IM­AGE: Palm Beach, a suburb on the Gold Coast, has been gen­tri­fied in the last few years; Break­fast spots like Mr Ben­gel bring a healthy, hip­ster vibe to the beach­side neigh­bour­hood.

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