Gold Coast History

Indigenous history

The Gold Coast was home to generations of indigenous peoples for thousands of years. The Aborigines knew the Gold Coast Area as Kurrungul, which 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. The Yugambeh people lived in Mt Cougal and Springbrook's valleys for at least 6,000 years. 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.

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, such as:- 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".

Industrial development and how the Gold Coast got its name

White settlers moved into the Gold Coast in the 1860s establishing large cattle stations. Later stations were divided to smaller sugar, cotton and dairy farms, timber getters hauled away towering rainforest trees in the hinterland. Over the next 100 years, agricultural industries included avocado, banana farms and cattle grazing to the south.

In 1925, Jim Cavill built the Surfers Paradise Hotel near a beautiful surf beach. In 1933, the town which had grown up around the hotel was named Surfers Paradise. Motor cars brought more people to the coast and the string of small beach towns formed stretching from Labrador to Coolangatta. By the 1940s these seaside towns became well-known to the thousands of Australian and US armed servicemen who came for recreational leave during the Second World War. By the late 1940s, the region had been named 'the Gold Coast' as a place to buy and sell land in post World War II's real estate boom. While the name was used to describe the boom, it also represented the golden sand, sunshine and the healthy living for which the area was famous.

The rise of Gold Coast tourism

In the 1950s development increased rapidly. Serviced holiday apartments and shopping arcades were built. The canal Estates of Paradise Island, Chevron Island and Isle of Capri were some of the first modern major land developments. The first high rise on the Gold Coast, Kinkabool, was built in 1959 at Surfers Paradise. Surfers Paradise had firmly established itself as the leading destination and the introduction of bikini clad 'Meter Maids' in 1965 to feed parking meters by the beach to prevent holiday makers from getting parking fines was a particularly popular innovation.

The high-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 almost all 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 such as Dreamworld and Sea World cemented the Gold Coast's reputation as an international tourist centre.

Gold Coast today

During the 1980s and 90s dodgy business deals and Government corruption tainted the Coast's reputation as a place of business, and property marketeering, but by the turn of the century the Gold Coast had shrugged of its shady past and fully-embraced the real estate boom. Now the Gold Coast retains its position as one of Australia's most popular tourist venues, and is considered to be the fastest growing region in Australia.

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