Here are some of the most legendary nightclubs on the Sunshine Coast.
Here are some of the most legendary nightclubs on the Sunshine Coast.

The hangover: Sunshine Coast’s most legendary nightclubs

If foggy memories start to resurface when 50c drinks or hair that could touch the ceiling are mentioned, it could only mean one thing.

You were alive in the 70s to 80s and you weren't afraid to party.

The Daily has looked back at what it was like to let loose at Coast nightclubs during the golden period of music and fashion.

Journalist Eden Boyd may not be old enough to have seen these venues in their prime, but it's clear many good times were had inside the ancient (jokes!) walls of Coast clubs.

If you raised the roof at Rainbow Room, took too many shots at Tropo's or smooched a stranger at Secrets, this blast from the past is for you.

MOOLOOLABA CLUBS:

Tropo's Non Stop Rock

What started as a small hotel in the late 30s became a fully-fledged entertainment hotspot with a long legacy to follow.

The original two-storey hotel was built in 1938 along the Esplanade and underwent several changes throughout the years.

The hotel opened Club Mooloolaba, affectionately known as Club Mud, in the early 80s and was the first real night-life venue in the area.

It was ultimately changed to Tropo's Non Stop Rock in the late 80s and the downstairs bar, Canoe Club, also became a piece of the puzzle.

Friends at the Mooloolaba Hotel in 1989. Photo: Sandy Day
Friends at the Mooloolaba Hotel in 1989. Photo: Sandy Day

Tropo's very own, born and bred Coast local Ashley Robinson, has fond memories of his time there.

A joint that would have held about 200 people legally was packed to the brim with more than 500 punters each Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.

"Tropo's was one of those places where your feet stuck to the floor with the spilt drinks, and of course the low ceilings and everyone smoking back in the day, it wasn't the healthiest place to be, but it certainly was interesting," Mr Robinson said.

Plenty of wild nights were had at Tropo's but one in particular stood out to Mr Robinson.

Before and after the Mooloolaba Hotel was knocked down in 1998.
Before and after the Mooloolaba Hotel was knocked down in 1998.

Four NRL teams had played trial games in Coolum and dozens of footy players looking for a good time were disappointed to find the local venue would shut at midnight.

None other than Alfie Langer made the call to check out Tropo's just before the clock struck 12am.

40 YEARS OF THE SUNSHINE COAST DAILY: ENTERTAINMENT PODCAST

"So they hired all these limos and cabs and all of a sudden at 12.30am, if you can imagine that, about 80 NRL players and their entourage turned up at Tropo's, closely followed by the media who were all waiting outside for something to happen," Mr Robinson said.

"That was pretty exciting for everyone that was in the building at the time because all of a sudden all these superstars came in, and not 10 of them, about 80 of them."

The closing of the Mooloolaba Hotel in 1998. Photo: Paul Bergin
The closing of the Mooloolaba Hotel in 1998. Photo: Paul Bergin

Unfortunately Tropo's hosted its last partygoers in 1997 before the whole establishment was demolished.

Mantra Mooloolaba Beach and businesses are now located where the venue once thrived.

Good Time Charlies

If you were out in Mooloolaba and not at Tropo's, chances are you were at Good Time Charlies.

Located upstairs in a building along the Esplanade, the late and great John Douglas brought the bustling club to the Coast in the 80s.

Friends at Good Time Charlie's circa 1987. Photo: Sandy Day
Friends at Good Time Charlie's circa 1987. Photo: Sandy Day

Some remembered the floor that would light up and others recalled sneaking in for their first night on the town at the ripe old age of 14.

Watching the sunrise and returning home at 6am after a night of cutting loose was also not unheard of.

Candy Shack, Rock On, Secrets 2000 and Horizons

After Good Time Charlies came a procession of clubs all searching to keep Mooloolaba's night-life well and truly alive.

The order in which each venue opened and inevitably played its last tune is a little blurry, but the regulars kept coming back to the same Esplanade hotspot.

A free drink ticket for Rock On Nightclub in Mooloolaba. Photo: Geoff Tynan
A free drink ticket for Rock On Nightclub in Mooloolaba. Photo: Geoff Tynan

It's understood Secrets 2000 made its mark after the well-known Peter Bell moved the Maroochydore club under the same name to its new location.

Mr Robinson said the Mooloolaba clubs remained successful for many years but ultimately met their demise due to developments in the area.

"One of the things that kills entertainment on the Coast is people building residential buildings besides licensed premises and then complaining about the noise," he said.

Inside Rock On Nightclub at Mooloolaba. Photo: Chris Bower
Inside Rock On Nightclub at Mooloolaba. Photo: Chris Bower

"That's basically what finished off Tropo's, was the units up the road."

Bar 240V

Bar 240V was the last name given to the Esplanade haunt before it sadly served its last drink for good in 2011.

Raw Group director Clayton Williams launched the business about eight years prior and it remained Mooloolaba's last remaining independent nightclub.

Bar 240v owner Clayton Williams in 2011. Photo: Darryn Smith
Bar 240v owner Clayton Williams in 2011. Photo: Darryn Smith

At the time, Mr Williams said he blamed the venue's closure largely on Woolworths' and Coles' growing ownership of other entertainment spots on the Coast, such as Pub Mooloolaba and O'Malley's Irish Pub.

The ghost of nightclubs past is all that is left of the venue along the busy strip, with buildings like Sea Pearl Resort now in its place.

James Southeron, Felicity McIntosh and Chris Andrews at 240v in 2006. Photo: Sharyn Rosewarne
James Southeron, Felicity McIntosh and Chris Andrews at 240v in 2006. Photo: Sharyn Rosewarne

Fridays

Just a quick 10 minute walk into Mooloolaba and you arrived at another club where memories were made (or drunkenly forgotten).

Fridays opened within popular entertainment landmark The Wharf in the 80s and it quickly became a favourite venue.

Mr Robinson joked of the friendly competition between the newer establishment and Tropo's back in the day.

Marnie Gerrard, Sharon Domrow, Brenton Vicory, Megan Ogle and Cara Norton during Schoolies at Fridays in 2001.
Marnie Gerrard, Sharon Domrow, Brenton Vicory, Megan Ogle and Cara Norton during Schoolies at Fridays in 2001.

"We always used to say, because they were sort of arch rivals between us and them, that it was like trying to race a Ferrari with an old Holden," he said.

"Because the Mooloolaba Hotel was so old, and Fridays was so new, but we managed to always hold our own."

Fridays remained at Parkyn Parade for many years before it was later renamed The Helm and then transformed into The Savvy Squire.

Rainbow Room

Another Peter Bell specialty, the Rainbow Room was open seven days a week and guaranteed a good night out.

Gentlemen outside the Rainbow Room in Mooloolaba. Photo: Gary Olive
Gentlemen outside the Rainbow Room in Mooloolaba. Photo: Gary Olive

Originally known as Smuggler's Cove, the Mooloolaba club was booming in the 80s and was located underground.

Its exact whereabouts seems to be highly-debated but the venue should not be confused with a second Rainbow Room club in Caloundra.

Club Elite

At the end of the rainbow came another pot of gold known as Club Elite.

It's understood Mr Bell continued his reign over the nightclub when it changed its name and staff have spoken fondly of their time behind the bar in the 90s.

Locals were known to take advantage of a free courtesy bus that ran between Club Elite and Mr Bell's Maroochydore venue, Secrets.

That was until it became clear that partygoers would also venture elsewhere in Mooloolaba's entertainment precinct.

MAROOCHYDORE CLUBS:

My Place

The hair and wardrobe choices may have been questionable but everyone belonged at this popular club.

Friends enjoying My Place in Maroochydore. Photo: Donna Cannon
Friends enjoying My Place in Maroochydore. Photo: Donna Cannon

My Place was owned by David Short in the 80s.

Coast residents of all ages have a vague story to share on their years at the Maroochydore venue but one thing was clear: if you actually remember partying My Place, you weren't doing it right.

Live music was popular across the region and as Mr Robinson put it, noise restrictions weren't given the greatest priority.

"I can remember doing security for bands like the Screaming Jets and the Angels, and you're standing right beside the speakers on the stage," he said.

Friends at My Place in Maroochydore. Photo: Donna Cannon
Friends at My Place in Maroochydore. Photo: Donna Cannon

"No wonder we're all deaf."

The famous flaming Lamborghini cocktail kept regulars coming back to the First Avenue spot.

Secrets

It may have been called Secrets but the Maroochydore haunt was certainly no confidential venue.

Rumour has it Mr Bell took over the First Avenue club and renamed it in the 90s after its previous life as My Place.

An advertisement for Secrets in Maroochydore. Photo: Donna Cannon
An advertisement for Secrets in Maroochydore. Photo: Donna Cannon

The drinks were sold for eye watering prices: a pot of beer or basic spirit would put you a dollar or two out-of-pocket.

Mr Robinson said a venue like Secrets was known to host celebrities from time to time as bands would play at different spots on the Coast.

"Ninety-nine per cent of the time when they finished their gig they ended up at a nightclub," he said.

Anika Morris, Daniel Fresser and Joanne Craig at Secrets in 2002.
Anika Morris, Daniel Fresser and Joanne Craig at Secrets in 2002.

"That was always exciting, you never knew who was going to show up." 

Factory: The Project

The dining, live music and nightclub venue had a short life at the Sunshine Plaza after it closed its doors within just 14 months.

Owners of the popular cafe The Velo Project at Mooloolaba opened the entertainment hub in November 2013 but Mr Robinson said it was doomed from the start.

Factory: The Project nightclub co-owner Zeke Rowland. Photo: Iain Curry
Factory: The Project nightclub co-owner Zeke Rowland. Photo: Iain Curry

"That venue has never, ever worked (at the Plaza)," he said.

Factory: The Project was embroiled in a high-profile court case spanning almost three years after three men were accused of manslaughter which led to the death of Wayne Dover outside the club.

Two of the men were found not guilty and the third was acquitted during the trial.

A popular Aussie rules player, Mr Dover was remembered as a big-hearted businessman who was dedicated to serving the Sunshine Coast community.

Michelle Dover, the widow of Wayne Dover. Photo: Iain Curry
Michelle Dover, the widow of Wayne Dover. Photo: Iain Curry

The Maroochydore club closed in February 2015 and owners at the time said the venue was struggling to compete with the power of The Helm.

The Sunshine Plaza venue then became Riverside Sport Bar and Restaurant and Level 2 Nightclub in late 2015.

ALEXANDRA HEADLAND CLUBS:

Galaxy Nightclub

The stars had aligned for this club to make its mark in Alexandra Headland.

The venue was established when Roy Thompson bought a hotel in Gympie and transferred the licence to the beachfront at Alexandra Headland in the early 70s.

Chifley's Hotel at Alexandra Headland.
Chifley's Hotel at Alexandra Headland.

He built Chifley's Hotel which became one of the top hotels in regional Queensland, before selling it to Stewart's Hotels Group in the late 70s.

It then was known as Stewart's Alexandra Hotel and the venue soon hosted partygoers at the Galaxy Night Spot after its opening in 1985.

Inside the Galaxy club at Alexandra Headland. Photo: Donna Cannon
Inside the Galaxy club at Alexandra Headland. Photo: Donna Cannon

Allan and Chris Carroll entertained the younger clientele with disco and live bands at the Alexandra Parade club for many years.

CALOUNDRA CLUBS:

Caesar's Palace, Empire Nightclub, Rainbow Room

While a strong night-life presence was found in the centre of the region, those from down south could still enjoy the 80s in style.

Mr Robinson said the venue located at 66 Bulcock Street in Caloundra underwent several changes in the years it operated as a club.

"It had a heap of different names," he said.

"They were all just resurrected, changing names. They were all the same spots."

Rainbow Room Nightclub in Caloundra. Photo: Gary O'Donnell
Rainbow Room Nightclub in Caloundra. Photo: Gary O'Donnell

It's understood Caesar's Palace was one of the first to open in 1992.

A second Rainbow Room was also opened during its many lives as a club, fondly remembered by locals as the Romper Room.

Blue Martini, Upstairs Nightclub, Tonic Lounge, Liquid Nightclub

The Bulcock Street spot would be remembered in recent times as one of the above iterations, but the clubbing scene never took off in Caloundra.

It's understood Blue Martini was opened circa 2013 while Upstairs Nightclub made its debut in late 2014.

Upstairs nightclub at Caloundra was voted as the best night-life spot on the Coast.
Upstairs nightclub at Caloundra was voted as the best night-life spot on the Coast.

Tonic Lounge made its mark next before a deal was struck with the owners of the site and a would-be nightclub owner on a lease of the premises.

A Facebook page was set up called Liquid in May 2017, advising people the new nightclub would be licensed until 3am and would be opening on the Coast later that year.

Sadly the venue never gained traction and ended the decades-long tradition of partying at the Caloundra spot.

Did we miss your favourite spot? Send in your memories and photos to eden.boyd@news.com.au


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