A descendant of the British public house, the old-fashioned Aussie pub is far more spacious in size and usually distinctive for their wide awnings and knock-out verandahs. Unfortunately, great characterful waterholes are a rarity on the Gold Coast but the ones that do remain are full of splendid charm. You know, the kind of place you can walk into, order a cold schooner, feel instantly at home, and have a real natter with an old local who looks like they’ve been sitting there their entire life?
From Mount Tamborine to Surfers Paradise, raise your schooner or order another cold one; here are ten of the most characterful old pubs around the Gold Coast.
The Wallaby Hotel
Opening back in 1884, this heritage-listed hotel is one of the oldest pubs in Queensland. Starting out as a local watering hole for both horses and passengers The Wallaby Hotel was and still remains the epicenter of life for the quaint township of Mudgeeraba. Thankfully, the classic design of this spacious pub has been retained and there’s still plenty to lure you in. Think: a 200-seat bistro, premium beers on draught (as well as more traditional favourites), an expansive deck, a splendid array of traditional pub grub and you can even stay the night in one of their motel rooms if you down too many pints.
Fox & Hounds Country Inn
Talk about authenticity—this very English-style pub has literally had its interior transported all the way from Britain (West Sussex to be precise) to the heart of the Gold Coast hinterland. Neatly split into two, Fox & Hounds is completely upholstered to replicate both traditional British and Irish pub standards, complete with a multitude of blighty pop culture trimmings and sporting memorabilia, plus open fireside seating and a classic red London telephone booth plonked outside as well. Fox & Hounds is the place you can go for a hearty, traditional English roast, sip a refreshing pint of London Pride, while soaking up that unmistakably British vibe. We love how the extensive backyard has finally been transformed into a very British-style beer garden, complete with old school games for the kids.
D’Arcy Arms is an historic-style Irish bar that has firmly secured its spot as an institution on the Gold Coast. This characterful, always welcoming Surfers Paradise pub is where the first Guinness keg brewed in Queensland was tapped at D’arcy Arms’ opening in 1988. So yeah, it’s got a pretty good claim to fame. We recommend you take full advantage of their traditional Irish restaurant menu and down a few pints of Guinness, while kicking back to their live, acoustic Irish tunes. In winter, enjoy a traditional roast meal by the open fire and you can almost imagine you’ve been whisked away to the Emerald Isle.
St Bernards Hotel
For over a century, this magnificent old Aussie country pub has been the Gold Coast’s most iconic mountain pub, and it comes complete with jaw-dropping panoramic views and traditional heritage décor. Meet their two resident St Bernards (hence the name) who reside on the front deck, grab a schooner of something tasty at the bar, then sit outside and take in that mesmerising scenic view. In winter, snuggle up around the cosy fireplaces and order St Bernards signature Guinness Pie.
Set on the Scenic Rim, this striking Tudor-style hotel has loads of fine character and charm and is a breath of fresh air on the road toward the Hinterland region. Presenting a long traditional Australian bar, with relaxing vibes and an inviting outside drinking area, the Canungra Hotel is truly within a class of its own. If you find yourself here on a Friday night, there’s always an epic live entertainment line up and if you have a few too many schooners, you can always stay the night.
The Bearded Dragon
This hidden gem on Mount Tamborine prides itself on serving up good, old fashioned Australian hospitality and you’ll find plenty of friendly faces up here. The Bearded Dragon oozes quintessential Aussie tavern vibes and boasts not only a casual dining restaurant but also gorgeous country lodge accommodation. There is always live music on the weekends and funky events like cane toad racing and reptile shows are held regularly.
Rainbow Bay SLSC
Oh how we love this old school surf club. A very Aussie pub, which first came to be back in 1962, Rainbow Bay SLSC combines the timeless charm of classic Queenslander architecture with the atmospheric allure of coastal views that encapsulate both the surf and surrounding hinterland. The two-storey building is perfect for bringing along the family or larger party groups, while a multitude of boozy refreshments and a generous menu with attentive staff leave nothing to complain about. One of the coolest old pubs on the Gold Coast, it’s little wonder that the wrap-around deck packs out so fast.
One of the most iconic Gold Coast pubs, Woodchoppers Inn smacks of the archetypal Aussie waterhole the moment you walk through their doors. Woodchoppers' BBQ Smoke and Grill restaurant infuses Australian flavours with North American barbeque techniques to create a finger-lickingly delicious grill experience. From dark wood trimmings, to the inviting old brick fireplace and timeworn seating, to the spacious dining area that affords fine Hinterland views, Woodchoppers is a pleasant little unpretentious find that demands closer attention.
Scenic Rim Brewery
Yeah yeah, this one’s technically a brewery, but its hardcore old-school pub vibes give it the edge it needs to make this list. Come for the beer (their larrikin range will give you a laugh), but stay for owner Wendy’s authentic home-style cooking. Her Dutch heritage shines through the menu and we recommend ordering the famous wurst platter, which comes with a bratwurst, bockwurst and cheese kransky sausage, not to mention a side of fries, sauerkraut, pickled veggies and coleslaw. And if you’re still doubting Scenic Rim Brewery’s old-school pub status, let us seal the deal for you—they offer shandys on the menu.
A lot of effort has gone into retaining the elegance of a bygone era at Hotel Brunswick (75 years old and counting) and it’s no wonder the Daily Telegraph rated this self confessed ‘classic Aussie Pub’ as having the second best pub beer garden in Australia. That accolade is absolutely justified, as its country yard, which is shaded by poinciana trees, is an absolute marvel. Too bad it’s not on the Gold Coast. Okay, so we cheated, but nevertheless it is within easy driving distance and serves up top of the range pub food with regular live band entertainment, so it’s absolutely worth the trip.
If you paid for a few too many rounds last night, maybe its time to check out 16 of the best cheap eats on the Gold Coast.
Image Credit: Queensland Hotel Association