Seaside spot takes you back in time
TRAVEL to the border of Queensland and New South Wales and enter the time-warp.
Only 30km from Queensland's iconic tourism destination, the Gold Coast, and nestled in the caldera of an ancient volcano lies a seaside location that will make you so relaxed, you'll feel like you have taken a giant leap back to a time when life was simpler ... and Elvis was still king.
The panoramic views of the Tweed coastline are breathtaking, but for me, the sea of grey hair at the Elvis to the Max concert I attended there left the most lasting impression.
Elvis groupies from across the globe had packed their blue suede shoes and travelled to the entertainment capital of the region for one night with their 1950s pin-up - or at least the next best thing.
Although this year marked the 34th anniversary of the music legend's death, as far as the audience was concerned, Elvis Presley was well and truly alive.
The man behind the sell-out show at Twin Towns' Club Showroom was world-famous Elvis impersonator, Max Pellicano.
Direct from the US, Pellicano had ladies in the audience going ga-ga as he walked, talked, sang and thrust his hips, just like the real deal. Mid-performance, he wiped his dripping sweat with his scarf and a mosh-pit of die-hard fans, mostly in their late 60s, dived towards the stage.
When Pellicano wrapped the sweat-drenched scarf around the neck of one lucky audience member and kissed her on the cheek, you could hear the swoons.
Pellicano is just one of the international stars set to grace the Twin Towns stage over the next six months.
But Elvis fan or not, anyone looking for a little fun and yearning for the type of beach holiday they enjoyed as kids should explore the Tweed Coast.
An easy two-and-a-half-hour drive from the Sunshine Coast, the laid-back surf culture and carefree atmosphere of the border towns of Coolangatta and Tweed Heads make it the perfect spot for a short weekend getaway.
To have the best of both worlds, experience life on the border by staying at Outrigger Twin Towns Resort.
The front garden of the hotel divides the two states of Queensland (Coolangatta) and New South Wales (Tweed Heads). Step across the line and you could be forgiven for being a Blues supporter. But with the region nominated by Tourism Australia as a "National Landcape", it only made sense to get out and experience the Great Outdoors.
As we strolled along the Jack Evans Harbour boardwalk, around the headland to Point Danger, the strong surf culture vibe was evident.
There was no shortage of surfers rushing past us on the footpath, eager to take on the early morning waves.
However, we had our eyes firmly set on reaching the top of the hill for a leisurely breakfast at Cafe D-Bar
A local hot spot, the cafe is known world-wide for its spectacular views of Duranbah Beach (NSW) and Greenmount Beach (Qld), and equally impressive fresh food and art gallery.
After breakfast, we headed out on yet another outdoor adventure - this time with local watersports guru Tim Jack Adams.
The enthusiastic director of Kingscliff Coastal Activities and Hire activities had invited us to explore a string of villages dotted along the unspoilt coastline ... by bike, of course.
It had been years since I had travelled anywhere on two wheels and powered by pedals but promises of ice-cream at Piccolo Gelato at Salt Lake Village made it well worth the effort.
And for anyone visiting the region who just can't get enough of the fresh sea air, whale watching is a definite must-do.
Because Coolangatta lies directly on the migration path of humpbacks, it is one of the best locations in Australia to get up close to the fascinating creatures.
Coolangatta Whale Watch operators Tony and Carol Hunt guarantee sightings for every trip.
Within minutes of departing the harbour, Carol was yelling: "Whale pod at 10 o'clock."
The cheeky creatures rolled around the deep-blue ocean, poking their fins above the water or sporadically splashing their tails, putting on a show for the boatload of curious humans.
Carol bragged about her ability to communicate with the whales.
She begged the majestic animals to jump out of the water and let us witness just one breach.
The very moment she said this, a magnificent humpback propelled its massive body out of the water and flew metres into the air.
The whole boat cheered.
It was surreal marvelling these grand animals in their water wonderland.
If it wasn't for the Gold Coast skyline off in the far distance, it would have felt like we had entered another time and another world.
And any chance to escape the everyday routine has got to be good.
THE TWEED COAST
Where to eat:
One fish Two Fish
Owner chef Michael Jenkins and his wife Leanne Jenkins are passionate about serving quality food at affordable prices. Their restaurant offers two for one dining. That's correct- buy one main meal and you will get another one for free. The atmosphere is sophisticated, the food is mouth-watering and the service is hard to beat.
Shop 4, Blue C Apartments Cnr marine Pde & McLean St Coolangatta
Phone: 5599 1411
This trendy cafe perched over the Pacific Ocean is the best place in Kingscliff to sit back and watch the sunset over the Pcaific ocean.
The venue's eclectic design is a mix of vintage and contemporary designer furniture complete with a vinyl record library free for customers to enjoy. With a DJ spinning laidback tunes, the owner and manager serving up exceptional margaritas and chefs presenting appetizing dishes it delivered the perfect mix of sea, food and sun.
Level 1, 102 Marine Parade, Kingscliff NSW
Phone 02 6674 8764
Bellaki Cafe Restaurant & Bar
Funky cafe right on the beach at Coolangatta is great for a quick coffee anytime of day or an evening of fine dining. The atmosphere is friendly and modern and the food delicious..
82 Marine Parade Coolangatta
Where to stay:
Outrigger Twin Towns Resort
The impressive 4.5 star resort, on the border of Qld and NSW, is boasts picturesque views and world-class facilities. The rooms are clean, fresh and comfortable and feature a private balcony, ideal for taking-in the sparkling blue waters of the ocean and Tweed River. Other resort features include and indoors and outdoors pool, spa, tennis courts, gymnasium, mini golf circuit steam room, BBQ areas and more.
Cnr Griffith and Wharf streets Coolangatta Qld
Phone: 1800 19 20 20
Things to do
Kingscliff Coastal Activities and Hire
The one-stop shop for adventure tours and hire equipment. If you've ever dreamt of using a stand-up-paddle board or riding a wave on a surfboard Tim and his team will teach you how. A range of water sport equipment is available for hire with everything from kayaks, bikes, surfboards and stand-up paddleboards to fishing gear and beach games.
76 Marine Parade, Kingscliff NSW
0430 082 890
Twin Towns Services Club
Thousands of international and national acts have performed on the stage of this very showroom over the years. No matter what time of year you visit you are sure to catch an entertaining show. The club is also Australia's most awarded Services Club and features lounges, restaurants, five bars and conference facilities.
Wharf Street, Tweed Heads NSW
07 5536 2277
Coolangatta Whale Watch
Experience some of the best whale watching on the Gold Coast with husband and wife team Tony and Carol hunt. The family-friendly vessel departs for trips daily and the adventures last about 3 hours with morning tea included. The couple's local knowledge and friendly staff make the trip not only fun but educational and inspiring.
Cnr McLean & Musgrave St