The History of the Gold Coast

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[Local Aborigines Dancing]

The Aborigines knew the Gold Coast Area as Kurrungul. The term referred to the endless supply of hardwood for Boomerangs. The local tribe was the Kom-bumerris and they camped mainly in the Bundall area for fresh water purposes. Cascade Gardens is said to have been one of the meeting places for Aborigines from as far a field as Maryborough. Tribal feasts were held at Bora rings and middens.


Captain Cook passed this coast in 1770 and named Point Danger and Mount Warning.

A government surveyor named Dixon charted the Gold Coast region in 1840. He named many of the landmarks after senior naval officers as was the custom at the time. Since then the Surveyor General Sir Thomas Mitchell changed many of the names to Aboriginal names. Examples of these changes include:- the River Barrow became the Nerang River, the River Perry became Tallebudgera Creek, Anson Creek became Currumbin Creek and the River Arrowsmith became the Coomera River. The beach at Broadbeach named Kurrawa is aboriginal for "deep blue sea".

At the time of the mapping Queensland was not a state but was still part of New South Wales. The region was to be made available for free settlers. By 1845 there were only 1,599 white people in what was to become Queensland.

[Map of Surfers 1915]

The Tweed, Nerang and Coomera River areas quickly became thriving timber industry areas as loggers sort the prized cedar wood. The wood was tied into rafts and floated down the rivers to meet the ocean going sailing ships. These ships were able to berth as far up the rivers as Nerang and Oxenford in those days. Loggers Edmund Harper and William Duncan are credited as being the first home owners in Surfers Paradise in their hut opposite what is now Wharf Road.

By 1850 there were still only 2,000 white people in the whole area that would be Queensland. In December 1859 the new colony of Queensland was declared and by the Census of 1861 Queensland's population had grown to 32,838.

As time went on areas of the Gold Coast became sugar cane fields and farms. A by-product of the sugar was the rum industry. Oyster farming and fishing of course developed in the Broadwater area.

[Enderly Ave in the 1930's]

Another pioneer of the area was J Meyer who established a ferry to enhance development. Meyers was known as an aggressive settler who brought visitors to the area. In 1888 he built the Main Beach Hotel on the southern side of the Nerang River, to accommodate the influx of people brought in by his ferry.

In 1923 James Cavill visited from Brisbane. He built the Surfers Paradise Hotel in the area known as Elston. The land was purchased for only $80 and the entrepreneur was offered $370,000 for the land before his death.

In 1933 the area was named Surfers Paradise. Since these times the Gold Coast has retained it's position as a tourist venue. The major growth in population has occurred since the 1950's. During the 1960's and 70's large canal developments and residential sub-divisions have spread the Coast's boundaries. Sir Bruce Small was instrumental in promoting this area as a family holiday playground. In 1995 the Gold Coast City area has become the seventh largest city in Australia. It is considered to be the fastest growing region in Australia.

The history and Photos used are thanks to Alexander McRobbie's book "The Fabulous Gold Coast" and the Gold Coast City Council.

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