La Costa Mo­tel, Bilinga, Qld Iku Yak­i­tori Bar, Burleigh Heads, Qld By­ron at By­ron, By­ron Bay, NSW Acre Eatery, Syd­ney, NSW

Australian Traveller - - Contents -

I’M NOT OLD ENOUGH to know what hol­i­day­ing on the Gold Coast was like in the 1950s but my grand­fa­ther, when he was still here, had many happy sto­ries. They were sim­ple hol­i­days from a sim­pler time – be­fore hav­ing an on-site bar­ber and barista be­came pre­req­ui­site for a ho­tel’s suc­cess. In­stead, it was boom time for mo­tels. The vibe was laid-back and small-scale – in­creas­ingly the style of ac­com­mo­da­tion trav­ellers are seek­ing out more than 60 years later. My soft spot for cute beach shacks is what’s brought me here to Bilinga, a ‘never-heard-of-it’ sub­urb be­tween Cur­rumbin and Coolan­gatta. On an unas­sum­ing cor­ner, 50 me­tres to the beach and a five-minute drive from Gold Coast Air­port, La Costa Mo­tel is in prime po­si­tion for ex­plor­ing the re­laxed south­ern end of the coast. And it’s not just the aqua weath­er­board ex­te­rior, beach um­brel­las and cruiser bikes lean­ing against a white picket fence that gives this mo­tel soul. When cur­rent own­ers John and Diane Cart­mill pur­chased La Costa in 2001 the idea was to knock it down and build anew. In­stead, the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis forced them to re­assess their plans and throw their backs into ren­o­vat­ing the ol’ girl. And oh, I’m so glad they did. I al­most feel as though I’ve taken a trip in the DeLorean back to 1955 – to a land of pink flamingo gar­den stakes and orig­i­nal neon light-box sig­nage. While I’m check­ing in, Diane tells me they only re­ally knew the age of the mo­tel once they dis­cov­ered old Women’s Weekly and Woman’s Day mag­a­zines in the ceil­ing, dated be­tween 1956 and 1959 – the cov­ers now hang framed in some rooms. I’m shar­ing with a friend so we’ve booked a twin room with sin­gle beds, which are clean and com­fort­able. The in­te­ri­ors were mod­ernised about five years ago – fresh­ened up with white paint, kitch­enettes and new bath­rooms, while orig­i­nal wooden floors re­main un­der­foot. Lit­tle boxes of ce­real – just like my grand­par­ents used to buy for us on hol­i­days – pro­vided along with toast, juice and fresh fruit for break­fast add a cute nos­tal­gic touch. How­ever, I can’t help but feel with a lit­tle more styling this could move from com­fort­able to com­pletely cov­etable. Af­ter a rest­ful sleep, we step out­side to a post­card­per­fect scene: the sun is shin­ing, lo­cals re­turn from their morn­ing beach stroll and another guest shakes open his news­pa­per to read over a cup of cof­fee. If only Grandad could know his favourite hol­i­day haunt can still be en­joyed like it’s 1955.

WEEK­ENDS | Re­views

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Nos­tal­gic pho­tos of La Costa and of hol­i­days on the Gold Coast can be found near re­cep­tion; Own­ers John and Diane have brought this 1950s mo­tel back to life; A com­fort­able twin room at La Costa Mo­tel.

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