On the Radar: Burleigh Heads

Until a few years ago, the heart of the Burleigh community, James Street, was mainly a strip of chemists, banks and hairdressing salons.

In recent times, though, the former fishing village, about 13 kilometres north of Gold Coast Airport, has evolved from a touristy coastal hub offering kitsch souvenirs and fish and chips to a hip little enclave.

In fact, Burleigh Heads has been hailed as ‘the new Byron’ in that it has pristine beaches, a surf culture, fabulous dining, eclectic markets and a laid-back charm.

And it looks set to stay that way. “There are so many individual shop and land owners at Burleigh, it can never be built out, so you are going to have that village feel forever,” says restaurateur Simon Gloftis, the man behind establishments such as The Fish House and Greek eatery Hellenika. “There’s the beach, the beautiful houses on the hill, and the James Street precinct at the bottom, with boutique clothing, cool cafes, organic stores and restaurants. How many suburbs have that sort of mix?”

Eat

The early risers start their day with a walk along the esplanade or a surf at iconic Burleigh Point. Keep the morning buzz ticking with breakfast at the excellent The Paddock Bakery. Tucked in a backstreet on the border of Burleigh and neighbouring Miami, it is one of the Gold Coast’s hidden gems.

After a long, painstaking renovation on an 80-year-old weatherboard beach cottage, Paddock was reborn with gardens, a vegetable patch and charming recycled and antique decor. The team, led by Ursula and her husband and business partner Ben Watts, serves up rustic fare using local produce and Single Origin Roasters coffee. The organic sourdough straight from the wood-fired oven is a specialty but you could easily spend a weekend eating your way through the menu.

For a touch of nostalgia, their ‘dippy eggs’ - served in an egg carton with toast soldiers - are a hit with the young at heart.

Recently visited by Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, The Fish House is not a wander-off-the-beach-in-your-thongs type of establishment. Serving up some of the best seafood on the Gold Coast, and with great beach views, owner Simon Gloftis is about catering to the local clientele rather than chasing the tourist dollar. The Patagonian Toothfish has a fan base, as does the simple but sumptuous fish soup.

For a more casual dinner, Justin Lane Pizzeria & Bar is a favourite with locals.

Drink

A few years ago, there was not a lot open after dark other than the surf club and local tavern. Thankfully there’s more choice these days.

Once a second-hand bookstore, Ze Pickle is a burger joint and bar with cool beats and communal seating, voted home of the best burgers on the Gold Coast two years running. Pair a Pablo Escoburger - made with Wagyu beef, cheese, guacamole and jalapeño sauce - with a craft beer, or perhaps with a Bacon Old Fashioned (involving bacon-infused rum).

Around the corner is Cavalier Bar & Supper, which has an extensive drinks menu of cocktails and wines. Wander down James Street, and you’ll also find Bin 12 and Finders Keepers Bar & Dining Lounge.

Buy

On Sundays, the creative set head to The Village Markets. With more than 100 stalls, it’s held on the first and third Sunday of the month at Burleigh Heads State School, and is the perfect place to nab a piece from emerging fashion, jewellery, swimwear and homewares designers; or throw down a rug and listen to the tunes by budding musos.

In the Old Burleigh Theatre Arcade, The Freedom State stocks designs from Free People, Byron Bay labels Spell Designs and Arnhem Clothing, and hats by Fallen Broken Street. The James Street strip is also home to a myriad of boutiques such as Bikini & Me, where you will find Bassike and Tigerlily.

When you’re all shopped out, finish your day at Burleigh headland on the grassy hill known as The Point. Grab a takeaway mezze plate for two from The Pocket Burleigh, plant yourself on the grass - if you can get a spot, it is packed on weekends - and watch the waves roll in.

Words by Amy Mills - Published in Voyeur May 2015
Quick Facts 
Population 591,000
Area 1,402 km2 (Gold Coast area)
Time Zone GMT +10
Languages English (official)
Currency Australian dollar (AUD)
Electricity 220 – 240v 50Hz
Share this article 
facebook Twitter Pinterest Google
Related Articles 
What to do in Three Days on the Gold Coast
There’s so much you can do and see on the Gold Coast even if you only have three days to spare.
Boards and Beers: Balter Brewings Guide to the Gold Coast
Get your fill of sunshine and sundowners with Balter Brewing Company's guide to the Gold Coast....
Top 8 Gold Coast Activities to rev up your weekend
Planning a trip to the Gold Coast? Here are a few things to rev up your weekend!