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Patricia O’Callaghan

Meet the Destination Gold Coast CEO.

Patricia O'Callaghan (image supplied)
Patricia O'Callaghan (image supplied)

If you weren’t aware, it’s World Tourism Day on Monday 27th September 2021. And whilst the Gold Coast would typically be packed with both international and domestic school holiday tourists this time of year, it is still our home, and we can all still very much serve as a tourist mecca for the local market in these current times. Ahead of the day, we spoke to Destination Gold Coast CEO, Patricia O’Callaghan about what a usual day-in-the-life for her is, and what exciting things the Gold Coast has in store for both tourists and locals!

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I think most people would still class me as a newbie to the Gold Coast having relocated from Townsville with my family earlier this year to take the role of CEO at Destination Gold Coast. I had been working at Townsville Enterprise for the past nine years where I started as the General Manager for Tourism and Events and then was the CEO for the past five years. I knew the Gold Coast was hurting after bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and the role would be tough, but at the same time I found myself excited about the opportunities ahead. Six months on, I could not be prouder to call this city my home.

Aerial of Miami beach at sunset with Surfers Paradise skyline as a backdrop (image supplied by Destination Gold Coast)
Aerial of Miami beach at sunset with Surfers Paradise skyline as a backdrop (image supplied by Destination Gold Coast)

What does a typical day of being Destination Gold Coast’s CEO look like?
Every day is literally an adventure. In the morning I could be on our Broadwater with Paradise Jet Boating and then by morning tea I am at Burleigh Headland with Jellurgal Aboriginal and Cultural Centre learning about our 60,000 year-old ancient history and then that evening I am launching a new marketing campaign atop of Rydges Gold Coast Airport. I am very honoured to have such an amazing role and know at the moment our industry is really hurting, so we are all working really hard to not just support them but to ensure their message is being heard by Government.

Whilst I’ve loved getting to know my new hometown, there’s been some heartbreaking moments as well. It’s obviously been an extremely tough time for the local tourism industry. Our operators are struggling due to the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, having lost $3.2 billion of tourism revenue and 1 in 5 tourism jobs over the past 18 months. COVID has hurt the heart and soul of the Gold Coast, but it won’t hold us down and despite these ongoing hardships, we continue to push through and the future is still really bright.

What do you love the most about the Gold Coast?
Where do I start! If I’m not hanging out with our industry during work, I’m making the most of every weekend to organise itineraries with the family. Whether it’s family fun, a date night or a staycation to experience the Gold Coast from all different angles, I love to spend every waking minute being a tourist in my new hometown. What surprised me most when I moved here is our surreal Australian landscapes being so close in proximity. The fact you can take a dip in the ocean at Surfers Paradise and hit the road for 45-minutes and immerse yourself in ancient rainforest is very cool.

Wonder Reef Concept (image courtesy of City of Gold Coast)
Wonder Reef Concept (image courtesy of City of Gold Coast)

With the Wonder Reef due to open early 2022, how do you think this new attraction will assist the Gold Coast Tourism industry?
The Wonder Reef will add a new layer of attraction to the city and we’re proud to support the City of Gold Coast’s vision which will see us home to Australia’s first floating dive site. This is another product that will support the visitor economy and help us cut through a very crowded market as people travel again.

What are you most looking forward to, for the Gold Coast, over the next year?
Opening up again! Whilst the next 10 years is shaping up to be a decade of opportunity for our region, the next 12 months will be integral in capitalising on this opportunity. The 2032 Olympics in Brisbane will bring global attention and visitors from all over the world to Queensland and we know there will be a significant benefit for the Gold Coast beyond the games themselves. As the world opens again, tourism will bounce back in a big way, and we know there are massive amounts of pent-up demand we can capitalise on. And as Australia reaches vaccination targets, borders open again and consumer confidence returns – all those postponed and cancelled holidays will finally come to fruition.

How do you suggest people celebrate World Tourism Day?
Back a tourism operator and invest in a local business that has been doing it tough. Gold Coasters have been phenomenal in supporting local tourism businesses and we still really need them whilst we wait for things to open again. Maybe buy an early Christmas present for someone, head to a theme park, jump on a paddleboard, or take that hot air balloon ride you have always been thinking about. It’s time to adventure! The Play Money Rewards campaign that the City of Gold Coast is investing into makes this easy, so jump onto destinationgoldcoast.com and grab a voucher today!

Patricia O'Callaghan (image supplied)

What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Café: Baritalia – This is an all-day dining option with beautiful coffee and Italian food which is really authentic and yummy
Coffee spot: Anywhere along the Coolangatta foreshore – I love the viewpoint from Coolangatta Surf Club and The Coffee Club
Restaurant: A tie between Nineteen at The Star and The Tropic at the Burleigh Pavilion
Bar or pub for a drink: Southport Yacht Club (especially on a Sunday afternoon – live music is always fun and a great way to start the week)
Weekend tradition: Visiting the Fisherman’s Co-op on a Saturday to pick up our local seafood – you can’t beat the prawns, they are sensational
Hinterland: The Polish Place – spectacular cabins with wood fires and the Pork Hock in the restaurant is a must try!

How do you choose to spend your weekends?
In between my son’s sports and house hunting, my family and I love being outdoors and a passion of mine is chasing sunsets. We are either at the HOTA markets on a Sunday getting a Largo or having a Milkman’s cookie, creek swimming at Currumbin or Tallebudgera Creek and heading to a Surf Club for lunch, or finding a nice spot to watch the sunset (whilst eating of course).

Gold Coast Dive Attraction (image courtesy of City of Gold Coast)
Gold Coast Dive Attraction (image courtesy of City of Gold Coast)

Billy Cross

He’s the Coast’s very own Manpower star turned nightclub owner and entertainment guru and now, local legend Billy Cross is in the business of six-star rooftop bars.

Billy has joined forces with The Star Gold Coast and Hellenika’s Simon Gloftis to bring the Gold Coast a next-level (literally) restaurant and lounge bar with sweeping city views and a sense of sophistication the likes of which our city has never seen.

We chat with Billy about what we can expect from the game changing venue and how he’s gone from King of the glitter strip to co-creator of what he calls the best rooftop bar in Australia.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve lived here for 35 years; I came up quite young so I’m a true Maroons supporter, and I’ve lived here long enough to qualify.

What are your thoughts on the Coast’s growing entertainment scene?
I suppose the thing I love most about being in the entertainment and food industries is seeing how they’ve changed. 10 years ago we had cafes and a restaurant here and there but now when you look at what we have, especially from Broadbeach to Burleigh, there are some absolutely amazing establishments. That’s the part that’s excited me most. 10 years ago you could go to one or two restaurants that were quite good but now there are so many options and so many amazing operators that have really put us on that national level.

What do you love most about living here?
Where I started and created my business was with the Manpower show – Thunder Down Under – which is in Vegas now but also travels the world. I had an opportunity to live and bring my family up in the US but I didn’t because I’ve always loved living on the Coast and everything our city offers. I then got into the nightclub and festival industries, started Summafieldayze and am now involved in events so when you look at those businesses, the Gold Coast is probably one of the best places in the world to work but there’s also a relaxed lifestyle where you can bring up a family. We also have the best beaches in the world and the hinterland, the Coast offers so much. We’re quite spoilt.

Tell us about your latest project at The Star Gold Coast, what can we expect?
It’s going to be a lounge bar, there’ll be a pool and an amazing restaurant. I think Simon and I together are just a dynamic force. In the late 90s I ran the nightclub strip in Surfers when it was powering. I got out of the industry and thought I was done but being asked by The Star to get on board with this investment was so exciting for me. What we’re going to create is not just something the Gold Coast will love but also something that will appeal to people Australia-wide and all over the world. Having a rooftop at The Star Gold Coast is going to be incredible, it’s a serious player and I think it’s going to be the best rooftop bar in Australia. It’s gotten me so excited to get back into the industry. It’ll be a place for the over 25s market to really enjoy. I’ve been involved with it now for the past two years and we’ve needed this on the Coast for a long time. We’ve got some great places but this one is going to be a six-star tower, a really classy place.

How do you think the venue will change the Gold Coast’s entertainment scene?
What it will create is a very high-end restaurant that’s going to have one of the best views on the Gold Coast. As a lounge and bar experience it will have an amazing atmosphere of pure class. You can come up and relax with a beautiful view, enjoy some amazing drinks and some cool old school music. It will have an edgy but classy feel, which I think is something we don’t really have at the moment.

How did you and Simon come up with the idea for something so extravagant?
It was collaboration of course. A big part of the design and the creation was between Simon, myself and The Star. They’ve got an amazing team of people on board and that makes our job easier. It was just everyone putting in their ideas and their two cents to see what it became. For the last five years it’s been something I’ve touched on. For those over 25, after you go to dinner, where do you go? This is going to be a place where of course the restaurant will be busy too, but it will be somewhere you can also go after dinner to have a lounge experience. I feel like this will be the place to go to dress up, enjoy drinks with your friends or partner and have a great time. The bar will be open until 3am so you can go and have a dance after dinner, which is something I think we really need here.

When will we find out the name?
The name will come out in the next couple of weeks; we’ve got a big campaign starting soon. To show people photos just doesn’t do it justice, I can’t wait for people to experience it. 

You’ve done so much throughout your career, what have been the highlights?
I’m quite fortunate that I’ve had such a great career in the entertainment industry. When I built my first club, the Berlin Lounge Bar, back in the late 90s we were one of the first to bring house music to the Gold Coast so that was definitely one of the highlights. Creating Summafieldayze was a highlight because there was only Big Day Out back then. Having a diverse career in entertainment, from running a successful show in Vegas to the nightclub industry to creating one of the biggest festivals in SE QLD and now being involved in what’s going to be one of the best restaurant and lounge bars in Australia, I can’t complain. The highlights keep coming.

Any chance you might want to bring us another local music festival?
We’ve always talked about that. I’m involved with the Hangout Festival called Sand Tunes on Coolangatta Beach which will happen on December 1st and 2nd this year so that’s going to be huge. The guys that run Hangout Festival in Alabama have a great lineup so that will be quite diverse and exciting for the Gold Coast. It will have that Splendour and Falls feel and will be a great tourism push for the southern Gold Coast.

Best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
Do what you love and love what you do. A lot of people in this world will tell you, you can’t do something but you’ve just got to believe in yourself.
Being a Gold Coast local we have to ask your favourites on the Coast…
Beach: We usually go down to First Ave in Broadbeach but I do love Currumbin, you can’t really beat it
Cafe: BlendLove, Goji Bar in Clear Island Waters and I definitely love Elk Espresso
Restaurant: Definitely Hellenika is my favourite
How does your weekend usually look? My weekend is usually spent with the kids who are right into their basketball at the moment. I’m quite involved in that and the Gold Coast Rollers basketball team, I love my basketball and I love my Titans aswell. I spend a lot of time at Riverstage at the moment too.

Archie Cox

Archie Cox of Carafe Wines at Double Barrel Kitchen & Bar (image supplied)
Archie Cox of Carafe Wines at Double Barrel Kitchen & Bar (image supplied)

Is it just us, or does drinking your wine from a carafe just add that little bit of pizzazz? Some associate a carafe with dinner parties, but what if we told you that it benefits a lot more than just complimenting your ‘exquisite taste’ and being a talking point over dinner? Think sustainable wine consumption like you’ve never imagined. Enter Carafe Wines, based on the Gold Coast. We got to know the mastermind behind the business, Archie Cox, and found a bit more about how Carafe Wine’s is wine without waste.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I grew up on the GC and spent my days around Southport. I attended Keebra Park High and am a member of the Southport Surf Club, so you could say the GC is my true stomping ground! My favourite places around our glorious Coast are certainly within the fabulous food/wine/events scene and blending this with our sea life is absolutely intoxicating.

Tell us a bit about you.
I grew up on the Gold Coast and I’m one of four boys to hardworking, professional parents. Many locals would have been taught by at least one of these consciously and thoughtful teachers and or principals! My parents broke the mould by taking us kids around Australia to truly allow us to see the genuine culture of our long-standing country, spending time in central Australia learning our indigenous ways.

Land of The Sun - Carafe Wines at Double Barrel Kitchen & Bar (image supplied)
Land of The Sun - Carafe Wines at Double Barrel Kitchen & Bar (image supplied)

During my youth, I began my love of the ocean at Southport Surf Club – rowing boats, until the burning boat life called me to complete my marine mechanics apprenticeship. I was offered an opportunity for the prized boat mechanic of the Australian ‘Formula One boat series’. I traveled the world, securing winning performances for my team, tweaking each boat, including for one of the female drivers – Kay Marshall (iconic at this time). After a few years, I returned to see a niche business opportunity in the elite’s private business security. My ‘large format’ status is not hidden, and it had become a benefit on the Formula One circuit as the drivers required security support, and I seamlessly bounced into another new role. This then lead me to take an imperative role in the daily runnings of ‘The Playroom – Tallebudgera.’ I was managing there when I was presented with the opportunity to take over this local music establishment. I was the frontman of ‘The Playroom’ and wanted to turn it into the most iconic Gold Coast music venue for all the famous bands worldwide to showcase their talents. The tunes that bounced from the wall and carpet weekly included The Living End, INXS, Run DMC, the Ramones, Powderfinger, Mighty Mighty Bostones, and the local likes of Pete Murray. But one icon I truly enjoyed was Henry Rollins, even heading to gym sessions with the boss man himself. Sadly, in 1999 the land where ‘the playroom’ stood was taken into submission.

After reflection and redirection, I turned my hand to another passion in the wine trade, from grape farming to marketing and sales. I travelled the Australian coastline making marks in every town, learning the fine talent of a wine connoisseur. My experience and love developed further over the last 15 years as I helped many well-known brands to create food and wine menus with my, some may say, prestigious palette. My most recent role was almost a decade of popping corks for the beloved Moet Hennessy. I am eternally proud of this time with the LVMH team, and I’ve been lucky enough to experience a dream life for many. I have seen the world sipping bubbles, tasting luscious liquors, and reading my own place card in the most delectable dining rooms. My most pinch-worthy moments were: being seated in Madam Cliquot’s quarters upon her prized possessions and clearing dust from the bottles in the cellar of Krug as well as initiating an insurmountable success at music festivals and high-profile events. Some of my happiest days are meeting the story-worthy people in my customers from our coastal locals to others around the glorious globe.

Carafe Wine brands on tap at Double Barrel Kitchen & Bar (image supplied)
Carafe Wine brands on tap at Double Barrel Kitchen & Bar (image supplied)

Explain to us what Carafe Wine is.
I took a more conscientious turn to ensure what I’d experienced in Australia within wine needed to be passed on. Through my learnings in the luxury wine trade, I hoped to offer a better way to consume. A sustainable wine without waste is served from tap to carafe to table. Carafe Wines maintain their centuries-old stylish European origin by replacing bottles. The global impact of wine bottles for venues and restaurants is hugely impactful, being 460kg of glass wastage per plate and a high cost to venue owners, councils and our environment. I wanted to change this for our future.

What are the benefits of ‘on tap’ wine?
Wine on tap offers a fresher and higher quality wine as it has not been bottled, meaning limited exposure to oxygen. The grapes juice is prime. Many believe that it is “terrible” or “cheap” because it comes on a tap, but it is the opposite. Every European winemaker and drinker agrees. Wine actually maintains its freshness due to less time to oxide, thus providing the consumer with the ultimate drop every time. Carafe Wines is the new chic-conscious way to drink wine for a better future.

Why is reducing our carbon footprint so important?
Reducing our carbon footprint is key to a sustainable life, and currently, the overuse of glass and its inability to properly be recycled is concerning. Here in Australia, we need to consume wine like the Europeans do. We can do this by using a carafe to serve delectable wines direct from barrels or taps and removing the unnecessary wastage (glass) in the process.

Carafe Wine tasting at Double Barrel Kitchen & Bar (image supplied)
Carafe Wine tasting at Double Barrel Kitchen & Bar (image supplied)

What is in store for Carafe Wines over the next 5 years?
Over the next five years, I plan to work with restaurants and bars to find a better alternative to their alcohol consumption lists. Ensuring we all work together to provide a premium to our wine lovers without hurting our environment. The future is bright, and I look forward to truly making a difference while sharing that carafes are chic and the way of tomorrow as ‘what was old is now new again and considerate to us all’.

Where can people enjoy Carafe Wines?
Carafe Wines is on tap at – QT Bazaar, Miami Marketta; Double Barrel Kitchen & Bar Benowa, Omeros Bros Fish Bar, Edgewater and Cafe Le Monde Noosa. Check out the Carafe Wine website for all venues.

What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Café: My favourite coffee spot is Double Barrel Kitchen Mermaid Beach
Coffee spot: My favourite coffee is from home in Miami but second on the list would definitely be Cruize Espresso Chirn Park
Restaurant: I can’t go past the Spanner Crab Dumplings at Mamasan Broadbeach but not to outdo the Lemons Butter Snapper at Omeros Bros Marina Mirage.
Bar or pub for a drink: If I’m going to grungy music grassroots then it’s definitely – Last Night On Earth in Southport
How do you choose to spend your weekends? My weekend (if the weather is right) are spent on the water in my boat. Either fishing or crabbing. I am a hunter/gatherer and enjoy finding the freshest possible produce and creating beautiful food for family and friends to combine with our premium wines, quality champagne, or thirst-quenching beer.

Lynda Pedder

Lynda Pedder (image supplied)
Lynda Pedder (image supplied)

Who doesn’t love chocolate? And ahead of our (and many other) absolute favourite worldly-celebrated days, (ahem World Chocolate Day), we speak to a local chocolatier who has not only taken the Gold Coast by storm, but plans to tackle the world chocolate market soon! You may know Lynda Pedder of Poppy’s Chocolate, as she has a chocolate factory at Beenleigh and shopfront at Robina Kitchens. Read on to find out a bit more about her and how you should spend World Chocolate Day… hint… it involves eating!

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve lived on the Gold Coast since 2001 after I married a Gold Coaster. My three kids are all Gold Coasters.

Tell us about your career to date.
We started the chocolate business in 2005 and had a factory at Beenleigh and also opened a chocolate café at Pacific Fair called Choclicious at the same time. It was the first chocolate café in South East Queensland. I sold that in 2011 after the GFC put an end to our franchising plans but I kept going with the chocolates. I opened a shop, and then café at Robina Town Centre in 2016 but the best part of this journey has been the development and growth of our online store after we finally figured out how to ship chocolates successfully!

Assortment of Poppy's Chocolates (image supplied)
Assortment of Poppy's Chocolates (image supplied)

What has been your greatest achievement?
I like to think keeping my dare devil son alive until at least 18 years old. I think it is being able to independently provide for my three children through building a successful business. That really has only come to fruition after 15 years of very hard work and turning things around from almost closing down forever at the start of COVID to multiplying our original business and now selling chocolates all over Australia and soon internationally!

If you had to recommend a quick baking recipe including chocolate, what would it be?
I like to cook Anzac cookies with chocolate in them. Something else I have made which was really delicious and easy was a chocolate block wrapped in filo pastry and baked – OMG delicious!

What do you love the most about chocolate?
The taste just takes you away from reality for a few moments. Chocolate just makes everything better! It is seriously the best food in the world.

Caramel Chocolate Rocky Road - with freeze dried strawberries, almonds, coconut and marshmallows (image supplied)
Caramel Chocolate Rocky Road - with freeze dried strawberries, almonds, coconut and marshmallows (image supplied)

What is your favourite chocolate flavour and why?
Gosh – that is so hard for me. We make a caramel chocolate rocky road with freeze dried strawberries, almonds, coconut and marshmallows and I think it is the best thing I have ever tasted.

How do you recommend people celebrate World Chocolate Day?
Eat lots of chocolate and visit Poppy’s Chocolate of course!

What are your Gold Coast favourites…
I actually only go to Poppy’s Chocolate café!
Coffee spot: My fave spot would be Burleigh Heads Surf Club
Restaurant: Mad Asian at Robina
Bar or pub for a drink: The Sporting Globe Bar and Grill

Poppy's Chocolate products (image supplied)
Poppy's Chocolate products (image supplied)
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