The Courier-Mail - QWeekend
Glamour of the QT Gold Coast
If you, and your pooch, need a break to run free with the sand beneath your toes, Caloundra is calling
The springer spaniel has found a sock and he couldn’t be more proud. Head high, he’s sauntering in and out of the lagoon at Caloundra’s Moffat Beach with his striped treasure firmly clasped in his mouth. He holds it teasingly close to the dalmatian and the maltese, the yorkshire terrier and the labrador, before giving a quick flick of his head and jogging off.
Barefoot beachgoers with leads in their hands smile and strike up chats with strangers as they bond over the comical display. Few things give a dog-lover more joy than to see their canine frolicking with other dogs on the beach and, as the sun goes down on this picturesque slice of coastline, the happiness quotient is high.
Ten minutes later, we’re sampling a paddle of craft beer at the Moffat Beach Brewing Co after a short stroll to the village shops. Alfie, our terrier, is welcome at our outside table as we opine about the freshness of the pink-hued dragon fruit sour and the bourbon-tinged earthiness of the Swamp Creek brown ale.
They do good food, too, so we tuck into sesame-crusted fish tataki followed by beef cheek with mash and beer gravy before wandering the 250m to our accommodation.
It’s not a flash house and offers only suburban views but its proximity to the beach and shops and the fact dogs are allowed inside makes up for the lack of upmarket finishes. There’s a big back deck from which you can watch your hound sniff about in the fenced yard, three bedrooms (one downstairs) and although the bathroom brings flashbacks of the ’70s, the shower is strong.
It’s also just a 10-minute walk to the tinshed chic of One Block Back. The cafe – which also sells plants, homewares and raw desserts – may be hidden away but the secret is out. The place is bustling when we arrive for breakfast, with dogs allowed to accompany their owners on the side deck that abuts bushland. The one-pan eggs is a winner; the baked eggs ooze into Boston beans, bacon, chorizo, feta and, surprisingly, potato gems that add crunch.
Or get in the car and try White Picket Fence Cafe, located on the main drag of Bulcock Street as you come into the centre of Caloundra. (A tip: it’s actually a white besser block fence). I’m thrilled with the chilli crab scrambled eggs, although my partner’s smoked miso trout dish is a feast for the eyes, served in a bowl with roasted baby vegetables and asparagus. Alfie is happy to be allowed in the courtyard, although slightly miffed neither of us ordered bacon.
The esplanade at nearby Golden Beach is a lovely waterfront strip for a postbreakfast stroll. It’s a bright, cloudless day and almost every watercraft possible is making the most of the Pumicestone Passage between the mainland and the sandy tip of Bribie Island, from jet skis to paddle boards to catamarans. We add to the flotilla by taking out a pontoon boat from Bill’s Boat and Bike Hire.
Alfie can come, too. He’s not allowed on Bribie but he’s happy to be on board with the wind in his fur as we potter about the channel, looking out for navigational markers and runabouts. We cruise past the houses in the canal estate before heading back to the island’s shore to drop the anchor and watch the nautical parade, rewarded by the sight of a hydrofoil surfboard rider levitating by.
For lunch, we head to Bulcock Beach and occupy a dog-friendly table at the Sandbar Cafe on The Esplanade. This is people-watching central, with a pedestrian crossing funnelling every type of human in all manner of outfits into view. We critique them all, of course, as we enjoy a seafood basket that includes grilled sea scallops and salt and pepper calamari, plus a generous side salad of rocket, pear, parmesan and walnuts.
It’s along this strip that the twilight markets are held on the last Friday of each month, where food vans, handmade crafts and street entertainment create a festive atmosphere. There’s a lightshow, too: as the sun sets, the Glasshouse Mountains rise in the distance beyond
Alfie’s happy to be on board with the wind in his fur as we potter about the channel
the waterway, backlit by an orange sky. If you miss these markets, head to Birtinya, about a 15-minute drive from Caloundra, to the NightQuarter, a festival of food, live entertainment and bars built around specially revamped shipping containers.
Inspired by Asian street markets, it’s a bright and colourful fair with a range of stages for local bands to strut their stuff as you chow down on dumplings, burgers and barbecued meats.
There’s even a mini-sideshow alley with rides for the kids. It’s open Friday,
Saturday and Sunday, with dogs allowed at the Sunday afternoon session.
As the day draws to a close, we head back to Moffat Beach for a dip and to let Alfie join his canine mates. One of the beauties of Caloundra is there’s a beach for every wind direction and today a gentle offshore breeze is blowing. We sit for a while on the foreshore, watching surfers.
But we’ve got to be back home by 5pm. That’s when a pre-ordered box of goodies is delivered to our door by Gather by Bonnie. It’s a beautifully displayed selection of cold cuts, cheeses, olives and top quality raspberries, blueberries and strawberries.
On the back deck, we knock the top off a bottle of wine, and relax as Alfie nods off, blissed out by a mini-break he could join us on, every step of the way.