It’s hard to believe it, but back in the day there were some Aussie pubs that not only accommodated drinking patrons but their horses too.
A descendant of the decidedly cosier 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 an ice cold beer, feel instantly at home, and have a real natter with an old local who looks like they’ve been sitting there their entire life? So, welcome through the raggedy doors of 9 of the most characterful old pubs on the Gold Coast (or close by).
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 it was and still remains the epicenter of life for the quaint township of Mudgeeraba. Thankfully, the oldie waldie design of this spacious pub has been retained and there’s still plenty to lure you in, including a 200-seat bistro, premium beers on draught (as well as more traditional favourites), copious amounts of decking space, and a splendid array of traditional pub grub.
Where: 45 Railway Street, Mudgeeraba
Fox & Hounds Country Inn
Talk about authenticity—this very English-style pub has literally had its interior guts 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. This 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. Sadly, they no longer serve great British snacks like Golden Wonder crisps and Pork Scratchings (and you certainly crave them with a hunger-inducing pint of Pride or Guinness!), however we do like how the extensive backyard has finally been transformed into a very British-style beer garden, complete with old school games for the kids.
Where: 7 Elevation Drive, Mount Tamborine
The renowned D’Arcy Arms is another similarly transformative experience but this time focused predominately at the Irish. Not too long ago we struggled to think up places where you could sit outside in Surfers and not look foolish simply soaking up the sun with alcoholic refreshment in hand. Well, thanks to the recent constructed and rather snazzy outdoor decking area of this ol’ Irish establishment, you can do just that and other nearby drinking establishments have quickly followed suit. We simply love this characterful, always welcoming Surfers pub, where you can also take full advantage of their traditional Irish restaurant menu and really make a meal out of an evening.
Where: 2923 Gold Coast Highway, Surfers Paradise
St Bernards Hotel
With jaw-dropping panoramic views of Tamborine Mountain, this magnificent old Aussie country pub comes complete with traditional atmosphere-inducing heritage décor. Meet Molly, their resident St Bernard, grab a schooner of something tasty at the bar, then sit outside and take in that mesmerising scenic view before embarking on a relaxing walk around their beautiful gardens. Cheers!
Where: 101 Alpine Terrace, Mount Tamborine
Scenic Rim Brewery
Yeah yeah, this one’s technically a brewery, but its hardcore German 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 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.
Set on the Scenic rim, this striking Tudor-style hotel has shed 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 a most inviting outside drinking area, the Canungra Hotel is truly within a class of its own. In addition, every day is dedicated to some sort of theme night; be it Poker Night, Taco Tuesdays, Wednesday’s Date Night, Thursday’s Pizza Night...bottoms up!
Where: 18 Kidston Street, Canungra
Rainbow Bay SLSC
Oh how we love this old school surf club. A very Aussie pub, which first came to be back in the early sixties, Rainbow Bay SLSC combines the timeless charm of classic Queenslander architecture with the atmospheric allure of epic coastal views that encapsulate both the surf and surrounding hinterland. The two-story 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 left to complain about. One of the coolest old pubs on the Gold Coast, it’s little wonder that wrap-around deck packs out so fast.
Where: 2 Snapper Rocks Road, Snapper Rocks
A short walk from the aforementioned Wallaby, Woodchoppers Inn smacks of archetypal Aussie waterhole the moment you walk through their doors. You know those old local characters we talked about in the intro? Well, you’ll certainly find them loitering around the bar here and that’s not a bad thing as it all adds to the distinctive charm of the place. From those 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.
Where: 64 Railway Street, Mudgeeraba
We’ve saved the best ‘til last! 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”—that boasts sweet river views—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 there’s simply no excuse for a roadie. Just tell them we sent you!
Where: 4 Mullumbimbi Street, Brunswick Heads
Don't feel like travelling? Here are all the best bars to hit up on the Gold Coast.
Image credit: Queensland Hotel Association