History of Gold Coast, Queensland

History of Gold Coast, Queensland

=Aboriginal history=

Archaeological evidence suggests that Aboriginal people had inhabited the Gold Coast region for around 23,000 years before European settlement. By the early 1800s there were eight distinct family groups living between the Tweed and Coomera rivers; the Gugingin, Bullongin, Kombumerri, Minjingbal, Birinburra, Wongerriburra, Mununjali and Migunberri. Collectively they were known as Yugambeh people and spoke the Yugambeh language, although there is evidence of four distinct dialects in the region.

The Yugambeh were hunters and fishers, and are reported to have trained dingos and even dolphins to aid them in the hunting and fishing process.

The area around present day Bundall, across the Nerang River from Surfers Paradise, was an established meeting place for tribes visiting from as far away as Grafton and Maryborough. Great corroborees were held there and traces of aboriginal camps and bora rings were still visible in the area in the early 1900s, before development overtook the land.

As Europeans settled the Gold Coast region and began farming and timber-gathering in the 1800s the Yugambeh were driven from their traditional hunting grounds into the hinterland and by 1890 the remaining few were reportedly relocated onto reserves outside the Gold Coast region.

Early European history

English navigator Captain James Cook become the first European to visit the Gold Coast when he sailed past on May 16, 1770. As an explorer under the commission of the Royal Navy he had the foresight to name Mount Warning (a volcanic outcrop 25km inland) as a natural beacon for a hazardous reef off the mouth of the Tweed River near a rocky outcrop he named Point Danger. Captain Matthew Flinders, an explorer charting the continent north from the colony of New South Wales, sailed past again in 1802 but the region remained uninhabited by Europeans until 1823 when explorer John Oxley landed at "Mermaid Beach", (named after his boat, a cutter called "Mermaid"). Despite the area's relatively early appearance on colonial maps, it wasn't until New South Wales government surveyors charted the region in 1840 that the area was really brought to the attention of European settlers.

The hinterland's supply of redcedar began drawing timber cutters to the region in large numbers in the mid 1800s and in 1865 the inland township of Nerang (named after the local aboriginal word neerang, meaning ‘shovel-nosed shark’) was surveyed and established as a base for the industry. The surrounding valleys and plains were quickly developed as cattle, sugar and cotton farms and by 1869 settlement had reached the mouth of the Nerang River on the Southern edge of Moreton Bay. The township of Southport was surveyed in 1875 in a location known as Nerang Creek Heads.

In 1885 Queensland Governor Musgrave built a holiday home on a hill just north of Southport and the surrounding coastal area began to get a reputation as a resort for Brisbane's wealthy and influential. The rough bush tracks and numerous creek crossings between Brisbane and Southport made it difficult to reach without a boat, but in 1889 a railway line was extended to the town and numerous guesthouses and hotels were soon established up and down the coastline.

The permanent population of the region increased slowly until 1925 when a new coastal road was built between Brisbane and Southport. That same year, Jim Cavill built the Surfers Paradise hotel 2km south of Southport in an area between the Nerang River and the beach known as Elston, and the real tourism boom began.

As automobile technology became more and more reliable in the 1930s, the number of holiday makers traveling down the coast road from Brisbane increased, and by 1935 most of the coastal strip between Southport and the New South Wales border had been developed with housing estates and hotels. Elston residents successfully lobbied to change the name of their town to Surfers Paradise in 1933. The Surfers Paradise hotel burnt down in 1936 and was quickly replaced with another much grander structure, which had art deco styling and even included a zoo; complete with kangaroos and other wildlife.

Post war years and the birth of the name Gold Coast

The South Coast region was a very popular holiday destination for servicemen returning from World War II, and by the end of the 1940s, real estate speculators and journalists had begun referring to the area as the "Gold Coast". One account claims the term was coined by a popular Courier Mail columnist who joked the area was no longer the South Coast but the 'Gold' Coast, because of increased and relatively extravagant ice cream prices. However, local historians have differing views and debate still continues as to the true origin of the name. Whatever the etymology, many people prefer to think of the name simply as a reference to the "golden" texture of the city's beaches and climate.

As the tourism industry grew into the 1950s, local businesses began to adopt the term in their names, and on 23 October 1958 the South Coast Town Council was renamed "Gold Coast Town Council". The area was proclaimed a city less than one year later.

Specific Gold Coast areas became the holiday destinations for many who lived inland. Coolangatta had a caravan and camping park on the New South Wales border and numerous families from Ipswich spent their Christmas holidays there. In later times, many holiday rental flats sprung up in the area. The Ipswich roots remain as the "Currumbin Lifesavers", share with a similar Ipswich swimming club the title 'Vikings'. Many Vikings swimming club members joined the life saving squads at Currumbin during the holiday periods.

’ in 1965 to feed parking meters by the beach to prevent holiday makers from getting parking fines was a particularly popular innovation.

The hi-rise boom continued in earnest during the 1970s and by the time the Gold Coast Airport terminal opened in Coolangatta in 1981, the region had become Australia’s most well-known family holiday destination and much of the vacant land within 10km of the coast had been developed. Japanese property investment during the 1980s made the skyline soar, and the construction of modern theme parks including Dreamworld, Sea World, Warner Bros. Movie World and Wet'n'Wild Water World confirmed the Gold Coast’s reputation as an international tourist centre.

Recent history

Some unethical business practices and State Government corruption during the late 1980s tainted the Coast’s reputation as a place of business, and property marketeering (seminars which duped interstate and overseas investors into paying premium prices for new Gold Coast property developments) during the 1990s did little to help the region’s image.

In 1994, Queensland Local Government Commissioner, Greg Hoffmann began reviewing the local government boundaries in the Gold Coast, Albert and Beaudesert areas. After public debate, the 'Local Government (Albert, Beaudesert and Gold Coast) Regulation 1994' provided for the amalgamation of Gold Coast City Council and the Shire of Albert to create a new local authority called the City of Gold Coast Council. An election was held on March 11, 1995 and the first Council meeting was held on March 24, 1995.

By the turn of the century the Gold Coast had shrugged off its shady past and fully-embraced the real estate boom. This boom reached its physical, and economical peak in 2005 with the opening of the 322.5m 'Worlds Tallest Residential Tower' Q1, in Surfers Paradise.

Notable historical figures

*James Cavill, first Gold Coast hotelier
*Eddie Kornhauser, Gold Coast property developer and owner of Surfers Paradise Hotel
*Russ Hinze, influential and controversial Queensland politician
*Annette Kellerman, Female swimming pioneer
*Johan Meyer, owner of the Meyer's Ferry and the Main Beach Hotel
*Sir Bruce Small, businessman, property developer, mayor of the Gold Coast


*cite web | title=Gold Coast Australia.com | work=History section | url=http://www.goldcoastaustralia.com/106011.php | accessdate=November 8 | accessyear=2006
*cite web | title=Gold Coast City Council | work=History| url=http://www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/t_standard.aspx?pid=1442 | accessdate=November 22 | accessyear=2006

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