Beach Bars in Australia Revisited; or Not…

My last blog entry here, when I added the video about Our Ninth Full Year Living in Australia, was just before Christmas. So, I’ve had a pretty lengthy festive break.

Bear in mind though that it is, or rather was, also the long six week school holiday break here for summer. So what with Christmas, New Year, summer holidays and Australia Day to enjoy, it’s easy to see how difficult it’s been to get things done around here. For example, here’s a glimpse of my surroundings on Australia Day…

Australia Day 2018

Australia Day 2018And here’s a snippet from Christmas Day…

Christmas DayWe also went away for a 3 day beachside break between Christmas and New Year…

Christmas breakWe weren’t the only ones, as you can see, the barbecues on the beach were very busy…

Beachside barbecuesThen, in the third week of January, we went away on holiday. See if you can guess where we went from this singular, rather boring holiday snap.

The townThe clue is in the names of the shops and the ads. If you can’t quite read it, examples are ‘Laboratoire Central‘, ‘La Maison de la Perle‘ and an advert for ‘Cosmétiques – Compléments alimentaire‘.

This is too easy, isn’t it? The answer is obvious. Except our destination was only a two hour flight east from Brisbane, so you can forget France.

Nouméa, New Caledonia

France, non, but French territory, oui. We went to Nouméa in New Caledonia.

Last time we left Australia for an international holiday was 2016 when we went to Japan which, like New Caledonia, does not appear in The top 10 international holiday destinations for Australians. 7/10 of those destinations on the list are much closer to Australia than anywhere in Europe, which is surely part of their appeal. So I’m not sure why either Japan or New Caledonia didn’t make that list.

What we loved so much about New Caledonia was the painless journey which transported us with such speed to a totally different culture. As a bonus, Mrs Bob loves the French language and speaks it well; she very much enjoyed this holiday and we will certainly be doing it again.

Australia doesn’t do beach bars

Of course, this website is about Australia, so let’s forget New Caledonia, for now anyway.

Towards the end of 2015 I wrote a post called What’s Really Different about the Beaches in Australia? One of the differences I listed was the lack of bars on the beach. When I say lack, at the time I mean’t I’d never seen one.

In many countries elsewhere, you would be spoilt for choice. You could feel the sand under your feet, sit at a bar or round a small table with some kind of thatched roof over your head, enjoying the sea breeze, listening to the waves, and sipping a coldie.


Sunset Ashram beach Bar, Cala Conta Tuesday 29 May 2012


Adelita Beach Bar, Tulum - panoramio


Beach Bar Aseania


Beach bar (1084206301)

That, unfortunately, is not happening here in Australia.

More than two years have passed since I wrote that post about the lack of beach bars in Australia, and you would have thought I would have moved on from it. But no. I’m made of stronger stuff than that. I would not let it lie. My search has never stopped and my dedication to finding a decent beach bar has continued.

I have come close.

First, I had a tipoff, in the comments of the very post I’ve linked to above that started it all. Shane John Backx suggested looking at the bar in Alexandra Headland Surf Club. He said “Walk straight in off the beach underneath the building in what was the old boat storage area. Also have an outdoor beer garden directly on the beach. You will have to make a research trip!!

So, of course, I did. Here’s what I found. First, a small confined drinking area with a few people enjoying a tipple…

Alexandra Headland Surf ClubBeyond that, you can see the ‘Beach Kiosk’, which I assume was the old storage area mentioned by Shane John Backx. I can also see some tables and chairs where people might have been able to sit to have a drink, but no one was doing that today…

Alexandra Headland Surf ClubThis area did have good views of the sea though and the sand…

Alexandra Headland Surf Club

Alexandra Headland Surf ClubSo, going back to that drinking area, you will see there is a sign quite clearly stating that no alcohol should be taken past this point…

Alexandra Headland Surf ClubShane John Backx visited in October 2015, we were there two years after that. Maybe the rules have changed in that time, maybe the surf club didn’t have the staff on the day we were there to open the kiosk properly, but either way, for me this bar is not a beach bar.

Didn’t stop us having a drink there though…

Alexandra Headland Surf ClubOh come on girls, get off the phones, we are supposed to be having fun on the beach…

Alexandra Headland Surf ClubThat’s better!

Minimum requirement for a beach bar

For me, anyway, a good beach bar should have at least the following:

  1. Actually be on the beach, on the same level as the sand and in full view of the ocean
  2. Be out in the open with no windows or doors, or even a gap through which you must enter to walk past the security guard and/or the ‘No alcohol beyond this point’ sign

That’s it, that’s all I need for a decent beach bar and I’m afraid Alexandra Headland Surf Club didn’t meet that requirement, although I will be checking back regularly to see if that situation changes.

Similarly, whilst Clancy’s in City Beach was good for a seaside drink during our holiday in Perth a few years ago, it also failed to meet my minimum requirements…Clancy's Perth

Clancy's Perth

Clancy's Perth

Clancy's Perth

The closest I’ve come to what I would call a beach bar in Australia was found at Burleigh Beach Pavilion…

Burleigh Beach PavilionThis meets most of what I’m looking for, but it is roped off leaving a ‘gap through which you must enter’, although no sign of security or even a ‘No alcohol beyond this point’ sign. Try walking onto the beach with a beer in your hand, and I’m sure some kind of mechanism would click into place to prevent you from hitting the sand.

Something along the lines of Rover from The Prisoner…

And that brings me back to Nouméa, New Caledonia.

THIS is a beach bar

Here’s the view from the ‘MV Lounge’ bar…

MV LoungeWell, you might say, it’s not on the same level as the beach and the sand, but then…

MV Lounge

MV LoungeToo close to the sea? Not always…

MV Lounge

MV Lounge

MV LoungeMy apologies for not smiling in that last photo, I was eating peanuts.

Anyway, this bar has easy access from the beach, waiter service to your table right there on the sand, and not a ‘No alcohol beyond this point’ sign in sight. And, as you can probably make out from one of those pictures above, a great place to watch the sun go down.

So, at last I have found a beach bar that I really love. Unfortunately, it’s two hours away, by plane. I will drink there again, I hope.

In the meantime though, if anyone knows anywhere closer to Brisbane with a great beach bar, I’d love to hear from you.


Related Posts

Open a bank account in Australia
{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Leanne February 9, 2018, 9:53 pm | Link

    Hey Bob,
    Sounds like you may be onto a great little business idea…Beach Bars!!! – I know I’m a fan.

    I must say that I am sad to hear that this will be your last blog post and also that you will not be featuring in the ‘Expat Diary’ in the Aus & NZ Mag. The latest edition arrived yesterday and your entry was greatly missed. I hope that you and family are well and that you have just decided to put you feet up and enjoy the great Aussie life. Will somebody be taking over the site or will you just be leaving it as is??

    Anyway I would just like to thank you and this blog as I have spent countless hours reading your articles. We have received out PR and are heading your way later this year.

    Many thanks

    • BobinOz February 12, 2018, 4:19 pm | Link

      Perhaps it is a good business idea, except I actually want to be drinking the beer at these beach bars, not serving it 🙂

      As for the magazine, yes, it is mostly just a case of putting my feet up a bit more. I ended up writing 100 articles for them over the years, I just felt it was time to move on. It’s only the magazine that I’m no longer going to write for though, I will still be adding blog posts here on this website for some time to come yet, hopefully.

      Anyway, thank you for your very kind words, I truly do appreciate it. I hope you get to love Australia is much as I do when you move out here later this year. Cheers, Bob

  • Emilylander February 7, 2018, 11:33 pm | Link

    Looking great Bob but on the drive down the East Coast from Brisbane to Tasmania,there was not one Beach bar! All beaches were either ‘ surf’ beaches.There was not one beach that possibly was vaguely like a European beach,with a taverna,beach bar anywhere near. Mostly,wind swept long rough beaches with some activity and that activity was aggressive people training the nippers to learn to life save/swim. It’s bad as far as the beach Euros are used to. Can’t swim,windy,no shade,no bar,sharks. Get a pool. Welcome to Aussie beaches!

    • Jon February 8, 2018, 4:07 am | Link

      I like Australia very much but so much that UK residents believe about the place is based on either the situation a generation ago, or simply misconceptions.
      There are some city beaches in both Sydney and Melbourne that match our expectations, but outside, the majority of beaches are as you describe…on both coasts. Beaches are often backed by near bush or in residential areas, by expensive houses across the road with a strip of grass and trees edging the sand (and seaweed) with the odd public BBQ.
      I would love to live beach side in Sydney or Melbourne but since I didn’t buy in 50 years ago, nor am I a Chinese oligarch, that’s out of my reach.
      Beaches are much easier to visit than in UK and are super for a picnic BBQ if you can find some shade ( and wind break in WA!) For a beach holiday matching European expectations I recommend Bali.

      • BobinOz February 9, 2018, 4:41 pm | Link

        @Emilylander, same thing happens if you drive the other way from Brisbane to Cairns. I did a road trip last year, I saw miles and miles and miles of beaches but not a single bar to be seen. Go far enough north, and it’s not just the sharks, there are crocs as well! Yes, welcome to Aussie beaches 🙂

        @Jon, as I’ve just mentioned to Emilylander above, I saw lots of beaches last year on a road trip and most of them are as you describe; they are backed by bush, residential housing with the occasional barbecue and very little else. They are best described as rugged and many of them completely deserted.

        By and large, I think that’s a good thing, but I do also think that some of the busier areas and popular beaches could just do with a large Bali hut with a bar on the sand. We shouldn’t really have to go all the way to Bali for that. Crikey, it’s not as though we are short of beaches here 🙂

        • Jon February 9, 2018, 8:03 pm | Link

          If I was permanently in Australia it is one of the aspects of life in Europe I would really miss. However, Australian beaches are what they are. Partly I think because so many Aussies live within an hour’s drive from the beach they are viewed very differently, but I would miss the one or two week bucket and spade beach holidays l have enjoyed all my life in UK and across Europe. Many visitors/immigrants expect to find the same in Australia.
          You also have much discussion around drinking on the beach…or in fact anywhere. This again is a reflection of the restrictive nanny state style of Australian regulations in general. Stopped on various occasions by general pointless mass roadside checks…l always assume these are largely to boost Police overtime earnings….I feel living in Australia sometimes has many of the characteristics of East Germany under the Stasi, although the atmosphere is normally quite friendly.

          My main point though is a general one of incorrect expectations. In the UK certainly, most people’s expectation of Australia and Australian life is totally removed from current reality.
          If you can get permanent residency and a good job, you can still have an excellent quality of life in Australia, but newcomers need have realistic expectations, while Aussies sometimes need to wake up and smell the coffee.

          • BobinOz February 12, 2018, 4:03 pm | Link

            Yes, I spoke about the drinking laws in some detail in my previous post about this subject, and so many people were shocked to hear that it is actually illegal to consume alcohol, not just on the beach, but in many public places.

            The reason so many people were surprised is because drinking on the beach does happen, and I’ve never seen any police do anything to stop it. I was on the beach on Australia Day this year, people were walking around with cartons of beer on their shoulders and I can’t for the life of me believe that the Stasi would have put up with that 🙂

Leave a Comment

If your comment doesn’t get answered, find out why…..
FAQs and Comment Policy.