NightQuarter, the city’s new culture and entertainment precinct is a great place to visit on the weekend. Located on an empty block adjacent to the Helensvale Train Station, NightQuarter brings the Gold Coast their own ‘Eat Street’, music venue and night market shopping area all in one. With plenty of parking nearby and the light rail G:link Stage 2 approved to extend to Helensvale, NightQuarter is perfectly placed within easy reach.
Inspired by markets around the world, the concept is the brainchild of Ian Van der Woude (chartered accountant and hospitality consultant) and his partner Michelle Christoe (Executive Director of Australian Horticultural Exporters Association – AHEA), and has been more than two years in the making.
Two huge purpose-built dome-tented arenas form the hub of the market, with over 120 different vendors housed around them in a land-based dock of 146 upcycled shipping containers. Larger in size than Brisbane’s Eat Street Market, NightQuarter will meet the yawning void in northern Gold Coast dining and entertainment offerings.
Food, music and artisan goods, the venue’s core trade, have been divided into eight distinct precincts strung between two main thoroughfares:
• Tapas Street. Mediterranean inspired, Tapas Street houses micro restaurants such as Longboards’ burgers, Rhett Willis’ (Masterchef 2011) pork belly, Trattoria’s pasta, Totally Shucked oysters and Souvl2u’s gorgeous Greek tapas. Enjoy your food with a craft beer or share a bottle of red from the Kudu Bar.
• Hawker Street. Enjoy street food from around the globe, as you dine undercover in this Singaporean-styled hawker market: satay and dumplings from Saté House, Thai curries and noodles from Crying Tiger, paella from Spanish Paella, 14-hour pit BBQ ribs and brisket from Grumpi’s Smokehouse at the end of the street, and giant lamingtons from our own Reid St Kitchen. Sirromet wine is sold from a converted kombi van at one end of the precinct.
• High Street. Discover boutique fashion by emerging local designers, unique homewares and artisan produce, showcased in the High Street stalls. There’s a children’s playground, Sparky’s Carnival Precinct, unique products and even more food!
• The Alley. From the authentic Turkish décor of Ottoman House to Shed Leather’s gorgeous handbags and wallets, this contained-clad alleyway, reminiscent of Singapore’s Arab Quarter, is filled with an eclectic mix of jewellery, art, clothing, children’s wear, homewares and one-of-a-kind artisan products.
• Side Street. Get your hair cut at Luigi & Sons, one of the Gold Coast’s best barbers, have a facial or massage at Gold Coast Massage & Spa or check out the beauty products along this avenue. Another indulgence, the mysterious Funnel Cakes stall, is situated just across the alley. We can’t think of better ways to relax and be pampered after a busy week!
• The Paddock. A huge domed tent roof houses The Paddock, a unique 2,000 capacity entertainment and live music performance space. Every weekend this space will feature local musicians, focusing on local talent for the first few months, including the Hanlon Brothers, CC The Cat and Felicity Lawless on the opening weekend, with Hussy Hicks, Alone Alaska, Jake Whittaker, Ella Fence, Aquila Young and Black Rabbit George to follow. There’s a plan to extend the venue’s musical reach to include touring artists, events and mini festivals.
• The Depot. Housed on the deck at one end of The Paddock, this is the closest feeding ground to the entertainment precinct. Load up on California Tacos stuffed with chicken, pulled pork, beef or cactus, an American beer in hand to quench your thirst.
• The Backyard. With the feel of a ‘longyard’ outback pub, choose your cut of steak and cook it yourself on custom-built pit grills stoked with Australian sustainable hardwoods. It’s participative dining that leaves the lingering smoky flavours of the outback on your food.
What does NightQuarter mean to Gold Coast business?
Ashton Ward, Director of Coffee at the funky steampunk stall Earth & Steam Coffee Co., sums up the attitude we heard from many vendors:
“We love the Gold Coast. This market is an exceptional opportunity for vendors, providing us with a flagship to get our business off the ground. Not only will we be selling coffee and cronuts here, but we’re also keen to sell our hand roasted coffee beans both at NightQuarter and online (earthandsteam.com.au).”
The Oxley sisters from MOX Kids, whose kids’ clothing is made by either themselves or close friends, told us why NightQuarter is so special: “It’s great because it’s so diverse. We love this market because it is a mix of food, fashion and flowers.”
For the Gold Coast public, NightQuarter is a food, arts and entertainment precinct squarely aimed at the whole family. So much more casual than shopping in a centre, the night market experience can provide a multi-purpose social experience involving the whole family – the choice of a diverse range of world food to please every palate, a children’s playground, exotic homewares and local artisan products, unique art, street performances and a showcase of local musical talent on stage under the big dome.
Check out the kaleidoscope of colour, flavour, music, noise and action that makes up a NightQuarter experience. Plan to make a night of it for the whole family. It’s well worth the trip!
1 Town Centre Drive, Helensvale
Every Friday & Saturday night 4pm – 10 pm $2 entry fee
NOTE: This review has also been published on More Gold Coast.