Gold Coast History

Archaeological evidence suggest that Aboriginal people inhabited the Gold Coast Region for approximately 23,000 years. The tribe in the Gold Coast region were the Kom-bumerris. They referred to the area as Kurrungul, which is said to translate into an abundance of hardwood for boomerangs.

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

1880’s European settlement of the Gold Coast began in the mid 1800’s, with the arrival of timber getters harvesting much prized cedar from the abundant rainforests.

1845 There were only 1,599 white people in what was to become Queensland.

1859 The new colony of Queensland was declared.

1861 Queensland’s population grew to approximately 32,900

1885 A Governor of Queensland Governor Musgrave, built a seaside home near Southport in

1885, setting a trend for the Coast which soon started a trend for the wealthy and influential.

1876 Gold Coast commercial development had begun with the establishment of cotton and sugar plantations and Nerang was the first small township, boasting postal services, a school and a hotel.

1889 Southport, linked to the railway to Nerang. In the early years Nerang was an administrative centre for the region with a courthouse, police station, and meeting place for local councillors.

1902 Southport was established as a town in 1902, boasting a population of 1230, and gradually assumed many of these roles and Nerang survived quietly as a picturesque centre of the hinterland. Southport became not only a resort town, but the business centre of the South Coast. Hotels sprang up to accommodate the increasing number of visitors.

1903 The railway extension from Nerang to Coolangatta and Tweed Heads was completed.

1904 The first settlers were putting down roots on the hinterland plateau.

1911 The first school started at Springbrook, enrolling 15 children.

1915 The land that eventually becomes the central business district of Surfers Paradise was red for auction and at around the same time 19,000 hectares of rainforest hinterland was proclaimed as the Lamington National Park.

1925 Jim Cavill built the Surfers Paradise Hotel which ‘stood in four acres of garden with a private zoo’. This is the time when the real tourism boom began.

1933 Jim Cavill and Elston residents successfully lobbied to change the name of Elston to Surfers Paradise and Australia’s most famous beach resort was born.

1936 An emergency airport stip was created at Coolangatta for planes flying between Sydney and Brisbane, in the same location today which is Australia’s seventh busiest airport, Gold Coast Airport.

1940 The seaside towns of the South Coast (now Gold Coast) fast became known to thousands of Australian’s and US armed servicemen who came for recreational leave during the Second World War.  The late 1940’s Brisbane Journalists called the coast, south of Brisbane, ‘The Gold Coast’, it was the place to buy and sell land in the post war real estate boom.

1947 The first Australian Surf Championships in Queensland were held at Southport and Coolangatta beaches.

1949  Paula Stafford had launched her daring two-piece bathing suits that become known to the world as the bikini.

1958 Fast growing tourism plus local businesses began to adopt the name ‘Gold Coast’ in their advertising.  On 23rd October 1958 the South Coast Town Council was renamed ‘Gold Coast Council’, The Queensland State Government proclaimed the Gold Coast a City on May 16th 1959.

1959  This lucrative coastal strip was officially known as ‘Gold Coast City’.

1965 The Meter Maid scheme began, with Annette Welch being the first bikini-clad meter maid topping up the empty parking meters for visitors.

1970 The hi-rise boom continued in earnest during the 1970’s.

1972 Sea World opened as the first of the theme park (formerly Ski Gardens based at Carrara).  It was originally developed by Keith Williams now owned by Warner Brothers and Village Roadshow.

1980 Japanese property investment during this period continued to change the face of the Gold Coast with hi-rise development and golf resorts.

1981 Dreamworld Theme Park which was the original creation of John LongHurst opens at Coomera, its now owned by Macquarie Leisure Trust.

1982 Coolangatta Airport Terminal opens and the runway was upgraded for larger aircraft (B737 and A300).

1984 Cades County Water Park opens to be named later Wet ‘n’ Wild.

Late 1980’s –  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.

1991 Warner Brothers Movie World opens.

1994 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.

1995   Gold Coast City area has become the seventh largest city, and one of the fastest growing, in Australia.

2008  As a result of the Queensland Government’s local government reform those suburbs north of the Albert River became part of Logan City on 15 March 2008. The suburbs which transferred to Logan City include Bahrs Scrub, Bannockburn, Bethania, Beenleigh, Edens Landing, Eagleby, Holmview, Mt Warren Park, Windaroo and Wolffdene.

2005 Marked with the opening of the 322.5m ‘Worlds Tallest Residential Tower’ Q1, in Surfers Paradise.

Visitors to the Gold Coast can revisit the historic sites via the many sign posted routes and one of the best ways to do this is with a Gold Coast rental car.