Language and Culture Lifestyle Travel

A Canadian’s guide to the Gold Coast

But first, coffee!

You land in Australia, groggy, exhausted, hungry, and desperate for caffeine. Where do you go? Your nose follows the aromas of coffee, which probably isn’t very far considering it seems as though there’s a café every twenty feet. Just make sure you get there before 3:00pm – open hours here are odd.

Running on fumes after over 24 hours of getting to Australia, you’ll want a quick order. Unfortunately, unless you’ve already dappled outside of your usual order from Tim Horton’s, this simple coffee order won’t be as easy as you think.

Making your first coffee order

Don’t ask for just a medium coffee, they will still ask what you want; you will rarely see brewed coffee in a café here. I wouldn’t ask for a double-double either, that’s a highly complex order Canadians are programmed to know at birth. Also, if you want cream to stir in, you’re out of luck. I first noticed this on the plane over the pond; they were only handing out milk and sugar.

For those who just wake up, and pour hot java into your mug – here are some tips on how to order in Australia:

  • If you want a certain milk other than the standard, specify.
  • Do you want it hot or cold?
  • Want something that tastes somewhat like an iced capp? Go for an iced vanilla latte (frappé if you want it blended).
  • If you like your coffee black, ask for a long black, and don’t be alarmed when you pay a high fee for a small cup.
  • A flat white has little to no froth, a latte has some but not a lot, and a cappuccino has the most with chocolate powder sprinkled on top.

Depending on how long you will be in Australia, it’s okay to become a “coffee snob”. Here, coffees and café are more of a lifestyle, versus a quick cup of java on the way to the rinks. Eventually you might be able to taste the brand of roasted beans or know when and how someone burnt milk.

A photo by Tim Wright.

Surviving “winter” in Australia… ha!

Think of winter here as a Canadian fall. It’s perfect, in my opinion. It’s comfortable, and you don’t feel disgusting after taking a few steps away from an air conditioned room. Although, depending on when you arrive and for how long you’re staying… you will probably adjust to the weather; I’ve woken up shivering before. I complained at the time but oddly enough I loved it; I will always love the crisp air and snow.

Getting your hockey fix. I mean, ice hockey* fix

Yes, there really is ice hockey here! I played in a mixed league here for the Bombers with some of the girls who play on the national level for the Brisbane Goannas. It’s a lot of fun – and there are tons of other Canadians as well.

When Australians here find out I play ice hockey, they themselves don’t even know they have a national level team. I mean, it’s not like there are rinks on every corner to remind them. There’s only a handful of ice pads in Australia. In the area, there are two in Brisbane and one on the Gold Coast. I can also confirm that only one of the rinks in Australia has glass along the boards. For the rest, you have to pull out a mesh curtain so the puck doesn’t go into the stands. There are no ringette lines, you can barely see where the end zone begins, and you kind of have to guess where the face-off dots are. Get ready to either be outside in a change-room or crammed into one co-ed closet to get ready for game time.

Ice hockey here is so different, and no surprise it’s mostly Canadians and Americans. Once a year there’s even a big Canada vs. U.S. game. No big stars, but I’m sure it’s a good evening out.

Oh, also, ice is absolute rubbish, and when I asked where players get their skates sharpened here, the response was, “well, we give our skates to a girl on our team who has a friend who knows a guy, who uses a tool to sharpen them in his basement.”

“Ummm… okay.”

Ice hockey in Australia is a good experience – but perhaps proceed with caution.

How to cope when you realise bacon isn’t really bacon

My first instance of this catastrophe was when I ordered a Hawaiian pizza with bacon. I got strips of shredded ham. Second instance was getting a burger with “crispy bacon” – you can imagine the disappointment. 

Adapting to the Aussie slang

It’s interesting that everyone associates Canadians with “eh”. Australians always say “hey”. Pretty much in the same context too – I’m thinking that perhaps this is just a new trend amongst the younger crowd. There are so many Canadians here they probably caught onto the “eh” and made it their own… you’ll probably start saying it too hey.

Don’t trust anyone who says their “poutine” has real cheese curds

We were once confirmed by a bar owner that the poutine he was about to make us had real cheese curds. It was goats cheese. No further comment…

Where to head out for Canada Day

I’ve heard of Waxy’s, an Irish pub in Surfers Paradise, having a good Canada Day party before. This year my fellow Canucks and I headed to Melbas and House of Brews. At Melbas, we scored some free drinks and I went home with a giant Canadian flag because we were decked out in red and white. Shoutout to some fellow Canadians who worked at Black Coffee Lyrics. They’ve even hosted a Canadian night on a day that wasn’t Canada Day; there’s always a good reason for caesars and maple cookies. 

Canada Day Melbas

Myself and fellow Explore blogger Jess.

What to eat after a night out

Of course 3:00am poutine is knocked off the list. And, you won’t find proper KD here either. Take note that shwarmas aren’t called shwarmas; keep an eye out for signs that say ‘kebabs‘. Canadians tend to pronounce them like “kuh-bob” and Australians say “kuh-bab” – I’m not telling you how to say it, but you can decide whether or not you’d like to come to a disagreement when you’re hangry!

Where to avoid clubs and head out for pints…

I confided with my Canadian friends, and the top places we all agreed on are as follows: The Loose Moose in Broadbeach and House of Brews in Surfers Paradise.

On top of this, the Gold Coast has been popping up with local breweries since I arrived. A few of them are Black Hops, Balter Brewing and Burleigh Brewing, which you’ll likely see around.

Sourced from the Metropolist.

Credit to Metropolist photographer, Hayley Williamson.

Country bars are not a thing

Sorry folks, country bars here don’t exist. You can pack your boots and hat but you might not wear them out as often as you’d like.

Patio season: not a short two months

For a place that boasts beautiful weather and views – the patios here are quite limited. Any Aussie I’ve chatted with finds it funny Canadian’s have a “patio season”. It’s one of the most anticipated times of the year for us, when we’re all patiently on the lookout for the first pub to pull out their patio chairs.

Two absolute musts: Justin Lane and MexiCali. Both host unreal afternoons under the sun with DJ’s, drink specials, great food and just an all around amazing vibe.

Credit to Metropolist photographer, Hayley Williamson.

Credit to Metropolist photographer, Hayley Williamson.


There you have it, my Canadian’s guide to the GC.

– Emily


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  • Kate Dosn
    June 15, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    haha. really enjoyed the article. as someone who comes from one of the coldest places in the world i know exactly how you felt before adapting to the weather in Australia. i was also melting at first, even thinking i was going to pass out at some point when under the sun. glad i overcame it. and now, i actually feel quite better and pleased cuz i have never seen so much sunlight and warmth in my life 🙂

    • Emily
      July 27, 2018 at 2:36 am

      Thanks Kate! Where are you from?
      It’s definitely an adjustment I went from -40 degrees to almost +40! Crazy haha

  • greg
    July 27, 2018 at 10:37 am

    made me laugh and remember our visit. would love to go back.loved the beach and sun .really enjoyed the article
    greg girard