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Gold Coast History, Australia

Gold Coast history is pretty long; archaeological evidences have indicated that Aboriginals had inhabited the region long before its discovery by the famous English explorer, Captain James Cook in 1770. The area was then known as Kurrungul (a local aboriginal word, which alludes to the area’s abundant timber supply). The area, then, also happened to be an Aboriginal meeting ground/place.

Gold Coast History– Initial Europeans and European Settlement

As said, the region was first noticed by Captain Cook as he sailed by the coast during his first Pacific expedition in 1770. Captain Matthew Flinders was the second European explorer to sail by the coast in 1802. The first European to land in the soil here was John Oxley – in 1823, he anchored in the waters close to the Mermaid Beach.

The area saw initial European settlements only after it was charted by New South Wales government surveyor, Dixon, in 1840. Queensland was no separate state in those days (it was rather a part of New South Wales and was declared an independent state in 1859). The region was immediately opened for free settlement. (It was around the same time that settlements were coming up in regions like Ipswich, Toowoomba and Warwick).

The area’s red cedar forests attracted timber cutters in great numbers and by 1865, the township of Nerang was formed. Besides the thriving timber industry, a number of cattle, cotton and sugar farms also came up in the surrounding region. All these boosted the area’s population, leading to the establishment of the township of Southport in the mid-1870s.

Gold Coast History – As a Tourist Haven

The 1880s proved very vital in Gold Coast history as it saw the region’s emergence as an important tourism center. Things started taking a positive turn when Queensland Governor Musgrave had a holiday home erected close to the Southport area (a little northwards) in 1885. Soon the adjoining coastal region gained popularity as a tourism destination among Brisbane’s affluent populace, who started turning up for holidays. The credit for this goes to one J Meyer, who started a ferry-service between Brisbane and Southport. Meyer also established the Main Beach Hotel in 1888.

The railway linking of Brisbane and Southport (the line was extended in 1889) further helped the tourism industry; soon more hotels and guest-houses started coming up in the region.

All the while, the region’s permanent population was also adding up and when in 1925 the road-link between Brisbane and Southport was established, the region became a tourist haven. The famous Surfers Paradise hotel (a dream of entrepreneur Jim Cavill) in the Elston beach-area started its operations in the same year. The 1930s saw a building boom – housing estates as well as hotels were built in this period and by 1933 the Elston region was re-named Surfers Paradise.

Gold Coast History – After the 1950s

The 1950s were a period of change for Southport; first, the name of the region was changed to Gold Coast in 1958 and then it became a city in 1959.

Again, starting in the 1950s, the area experienced rapid population growth, which was matched by development of infrastructure and amenities. The 1970s saw hi-rise boom in Gold Coast and expansion of the city’s boundaries. Today, Gold Coast city is the seventh largest city in Australia. Gold Coast also happens to be the most-populous non-capital city and has more people living here than in the Australian Capital Territory of Canberra.

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