Avoid the skate park, the post office if you're boozed and maybe the old gals at Twin Towns…
You’ll first see what makes Coolangatta what it is, first, from the window of your plane as it banks over Point Danger on its final landing approach. The vision is as fantastic as it is wondrous; a geographical twerk in your face.
There’s the rivermouth beachbreak Duranbah on its south-east flank, the everyday staple for its surfing population, but on its northern side, thoroughly protected from any southerly wind, are the points of Snapper, Rainbow Bay, Greenmount and Kirra. In between all that is the occasionally epic Coolangatta sandbar.
Coolangatta is a sweaty (literally!) sub-tropical city on the Queensland and NSW border. But an easy, breezy lifestyle doesn’t necessarily lead to utopia. If you want surf, you’ll find it. If you want a good job, maybe not. If you want drugs and a fight every time you swing your caboose after dark, you got it.
It’s a town where you can pick and choose the life you want to lead. Live like a caveman, up at first light and indoors when the sun squashes behind the mountains, and it’s a dream.
Noa Deane grew up and continues to live in a blissful state there. His advice reveals many secrets…
Best place to drink: The Sands. It’s the pub that everyone goes to start off. Maybe go to one of the clubs after, but you never know.
The clubs: Komune or Neverland. I really try to not to go but it’s too easy to get sucked in. It’s pretty funny. You always walk out of there thinking why did I do that?
The main players around town: In Cooly it’s all the local crew, Jack Freestone, Mitch Crews, until summer comes around, and then you’ll get a few people from America and the rest of the world. It’s different than Surfers Paradise where it’s gym junkie and sweatshop nation. There’s a group of people that hang out in the Snapper carpark all day long, every day. It’s a bit weird.
Where to find Mick and Joel: I don’t know about Joel but I could find Mick. If he was home after a comp he’ll be down at the Sands with the boys having a beer. If he’s not there he’ll be at D-Bah, parked in the same spot he’s parked in for years. On the hill up the side street, he loves it.
Best breakfast: Café Scooterini. Ask for the secret sandwich: chicken, aoli and fries.
Coffee: I don’t drink that shit anymore, anxiety reasons but when I did I’d go to Lido. Maybe have an English Breakfast tea and a biscuit instead.
Dinner joints: I like Top Noodle. It’s cheap, tasty and you can take beer in. Burgerlounge is incredible too, but it’s a bit more expensive.
Where to surf when it’s pumping: I surf at D-Bah. Everyone will be over at Snapper fighting the crowds and I’ll have the peaks to myself.
When it’s onshore: If it’s a northerly head down to Ballina or Tallows in Byron. When it’s flat go to Straddie, it’ll be double-overhead.
Sharks: I’ve never seen one down here, so it’s not really something to worry about. I thought I saw one once but it didn’t look very big and it stayed away.
Best kept secret: Cudgun Reef, down towards the backside of Kingscliff. It’s this crazy right reef out there, and no one surfs it. When the waves are four-foot and offshore it’s perfect.
Cheapest bar: The Sands has half-priced beers from on Fridays (from five pm til seven pm) and Sundays (two till five). You can get a schooner for $2.50 and I don’t know anywhere else in Australia that’s cheaper. You go down and get so loaded with the biggest mix bag crowd.
Most expensive bar: Café Fresh Lounge Bar. They make some rad cocktails.
Where to get plastered and not kicked out: Once again, The Sands does a pretty good job of that. When you get kicked out of Neverland just sneak across the road and you’ll be fine.
Best bar story: My friend Toby and I were at Neverland one night, standing at the top of a staircase, and this old lady was yelling at us, “I’ve fucked boys half your age,” poking us and stuff. We handed her a beer, she chugged the whole thing and went ass-over down the stairwell. She got so squished, it was heavy.
Where to find girls: Komune. A lot of girls go there. Or if you want a real rough chick go to Cooly Hotel.
My brother was walking through the park and somebody jumped out of the bushes and stabbed him, took his wallet and his phone. It’s full of crackheads that are so high they just want to kill people.
Cougars: At Twin Towns and Cooly Hotel there are a lot of women on the prowl. Watch out younger men.
Where to avoid: The park near the skatepark is such a no- zone. So many people get stabbed there and punched out. My brother was walking through the park and somebody jumped out of the bushes and stabbed him, took his wallet and his phone. It’s full of crackheads that are so high they just want to kill people.
How to get punched: Walk by the Post Office, drunk and vulnerable, and you’ll get beat up. Or if you go to the Cooly Hotel and try to back up a chick that’s getting picked on, come in and say, “Beat it bro,” you’ll be in a fight in no time. Bang.
How to buy drugs: You can really just ask anyone in a bar and they’ll probably be able to help you out. If you’re after something hard, go to a tattoo shop or porn store. They’re run by the bikies and haven’t had business in years, just drug dealin’.
How to get laid: I’m the worst person to ask for this. If you’re after a typical Gold Coast chick, be a dick to them. If you’re nice they’ll think that you’re a creep and brush you.
The girls: There are two main types, the normal chicks and the full-on Gold Coast chicks. The GC girls are pretty easy to pick out, just look for cheap cocktail dresses and caked-on makeup.
The boys: There are the surfers, then you have you’re average hipster-esque group, and then the roid-raging bikies. Somebody looking in might think this is the weirdest place, but once you get your own shit going on it’s one of the best places in the world even if there is the odd obnoxious steroid freak, but they’re always good for a laugh.
Best pickup line to use: For the average Gold Coast girl, say something really stupid. “Should we get out of here?” Don’t even bother introducing yourself. I swear people walk around the bar doing that and it works.
Pros and Cons: The biggest pros would be the waves and that there’s always stuff happening: dinner, drinks, shows. There’s not a whole lot of pressure to always be busy though, it’s a pretty relaxed place. I really like it in winter when there are not as many people and the waves are in the best shape. The bad side of it is that it’s pretty easy to get caught in a bubble and if you don’t watch out you’ll turn into something pretty rank. Everybody does the same shit and goes out to the same places over and over, it’s like Groundhog Day. Komune, Neverland, Sleep, Repeat.
During the Quiky Pro: To surf, go to D-Bah. Everyone surfs over the other side of the cliff and there’ll be no one out. I was surfing Lovers and it was five-foot and empty. To drink, it’s Neverland prime time. All your friends from around the world get to Cooly at the same time, and are always keen for a beer. They always host the sponsor parties, which are so fun.
The best time of year: From the middle of February to June would be the best window, but shoot for April. Clean conditions and a nice east swell.
Worst time of year: October through December is horrible. You wouldn’t even bother getting in the water.
Where to stay: There are houses near Rainbow Beach that you can rent out for weeks at a time and if you have a fair crew it wouldn’t be too expensive. Otherwise, there are a few backpackers in town that wouldn’t be bad. There’s one above The Sands but it’d be hard to stay away from those beers.
How to get around: Everything is so close. You can walk anywhere in five minutes. Or skate.
Biggest events: You have the Quiksilver Pro and then there’s this Cooly Rocks On thing that is pretty huge. It runs at the very start of winter for about a month. Pop-up shops take over the beachfront.
Where to get a board: I ride for Rusty so I get all my boards from the factory in the states. But as a tourist, head to Cooly Surf. The boys in there have a shit-ton of different designs and shapers.
Best shop to waste time in: Motorcycle Music. It’s the coolest store! You have records and these crazy vintage guitars. The guy who runs it, Gary, will just jam with you for hours. Steph (Gilmore) always stops in for ages when she’s at home. But he’s only open full muso-hours, 12:30 to 6:30.
Where to buy clothes: There are a few Op-Shops that are so cheap. Re-psycle is where I’ve gotten most of my good stuff and the proceeds go towards mental health foundations. If you’re a girl go to RSPCA, it’s full of dresses and that.
Where to get a haircut: Beeba. They have nice, young ladies working there rather than weird old dudes that are real eggy, wishing they could cut your throat with the razor.
Where to go for drunken eats: The Cooly Pie Shop. When you’re really out to lunch and you get a sausage role or a spinach triangle, you’ll leave with a pretty big smile on your face.
Where to buy a book: There’s a secondhand book store next to Big Chiefs, a burger place, that is pretty good. It’s just called Secondhand Book Store.
Best Mexican food: There’s not much. I go to America and come back thinking where the fuck is the Mexican food at, because it sucks here. If you feel like driving to Byron, there’s a new place across the road from The Beach Hotel that makes amazing margaritas. You have one and you’re cooked.
How to avoid the cops: Don’t pee in public and don’t walk around with open beers. They’ll corner you and fine you $100 and be dicks about it in the meantime. Aside from that you’re fine.
Where to go when you want to get out of town: The Currumbin rock pools. They’re about 15 minutes north and such a fun spot to spend the day.
Free entertainment: If you’re not counting fuel, you can drive to the Anchorage, just up Tweed River. It’s this bridge that you can jump off of and a nice little sandy beach to hang around all day.