Surfers Paradise, Queensland
Gold Coast City, Queensland
Viewed from Broadwater
|Location||78 km (48 mi) from Brisbane|
|LGA(s)||Gold Coast City|
|State/territory electorate(s)||Surfers Paradise|
Colloquially known as 'Surfers', the suburb has many high-rise apartment buildings and a wide surf beach. The feature of the central business district is Cavill Mall, which runs through the shopping precinct. Cavill Avenue, named after Jim Cavill, an early hotel owner, is one of the busiest shopping strips in Queensland, and the centre of activity for night life.
Surfers Paradise is the Gold Coast's entertainment and tourism centre and the precinct's high-rise buildings are the best known feature of the city's skyline. Surfers Paradise is also one of Australia's iconic coastal tourist destinations, drawing visitors each year from New Zealand, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and around Australia.
James Beattie, a farmer, became the first European to settle in the area when he staked out an 80-acre (32 ha) farm on the northern bank of the Nerang River, close to present-day Cavill Avenue. The farm proved unsuccessful and was sold in 1877 to German immigrant Johan Meyer, who turned the land into a sugar farm and mill. Meyer also had little luck growing in the sandy soil and within a decade had auctioned the farm and started a ferry service and built the Main Beach hotel. By 1889, Meyer's hotel had become a post receiving office and subdivisions surrounding it were named Elston, named by the Southport postmaster after his wife's home in Southport, Lancashire, England. The Main Beach Hotel licence lapsed after Meyer's death in 1901 and for 16 years Elston was a tourist town without a hotel or post office.
In 1917, a land auction was held by Brisbane real estate company Arthur Blackwood to sell subdivided blocks in Elston as the 'Surfers' Paradise Estate', but the auction failed because access was difficult. This was the first recorded reference to Surfers Paradise, but like the Gold Coast, the title may already have been local vernacular.
Elston began to get more visitors after the opening of Jubilee Bridge and the extension of the South Coast Road in 1925; the area was serviced before then only by Meyer's Ferry at the Nerang River. Elston was no longer cut off by the river and speculators began buying land around Elston and Burleigh Heads. Estates down the coast were promoted and hotels opened to accommodate tourists and investors.
Brisbane hotelier Jim Cavill opened Surfers Paradise Hotel that year, and the town had its first landmark. Located between the ferry jetty and the white surf beach off the South Coast Road, it became popular and shops and services sprang up around it. In the following years Cavill pushed to have the name Elston changed to the more marketable Surfers' Paradise and in 1933 the town acquired its present name.
The boom of the 1950s and 1960s was centred on this area and the first of the tall apartment buildings were constructed in the decades that followed. Little remains of the early vegetation or natural features of the area and even the historical association of the beachfront development with the river is tenuous. The early subdivision pattern remains, although later reclamation of the islands in the Nerang River as housing estates, and the bridges to those islands, have created a contrast reflected in subdivision and building form. Some early remnants survived such as Budd's Beach — a low-scale open area on the river which even in the early history of the area was a centre for boating, fishing and swimming.
Some minor changes have occurred in extending the road along the beachfront since the early subdivision and The Esplanade road is now a focus of activity, with supporting shops and restaurants. The intensity of activity, centred on Cavill, Orchid and Elkhorn Avenues, is reflected in the density of development. Of all places on the Gold Coast the buildings in this area constitute a dominant and enduring image visible from as far south as Coolangatta and from the mountain resorts of the hinterland.
Surfers Paradise Foreshore
Surfers Paradise is fronted to the east by the Surfers Paradise Foreshore, a rejuvenated public space that fronts Surfers Paradise Beach and the Pacific Ocean. The Foreshore was completed in 2011 and feature contemporary coastal streetscaping that incorporates existing trees and vegetation, including about 95 pandanus trees. The masterplanned space hosts a full calendar of free public events such as the Surfers Paradise Festival and the Australian Sand Sculpting Championships.
Surfers Paradise hosts a calendar of free public events, largely targeting residents of the Gold Coast, visitors from southeast Queensland and interstate and international tourists.
Surfers Paradise Festival
Staged each March and April, the annual Surfers Paradise Festival is a celebration of local music, food, fashion, film and art and is a key driver of the Gold Coast's long-term cultural development. Across the four weekends of the festival, the Surfers Paradise precinct is transformed into a vibrant showcase of the Gold Coast’s emerging arts and cultural scene. The festival comprises an accessible mix of family events, exhibitions, live music, street markets and short film screenings.
Schoolies is the phenomenon in which high school leavers from around Australia book their end-of-year holiday in Queensland destinations including Surfers Paradise.
A dedicated Schoolies event zone, featuring live music and youth-themed activities, is established each year on Surfers Paradise Beach in order to provide a safe, fun environment for school leavers.
Surfers Paradise Beach is regarded as one of the best beaches on the east coast of Australia and has been recognised with numerous domestic and international awards:
Surfers Paradise in song
As an iconic holiday destination, Surfers Paradise has been namechecked in numerous popular Australian songs including:
- The Australian Crawl song "The Boys Light Up" also mentions the line "That flat in Surfers Paradise, with the ocean view"
- The Redgum song "Gladstone Pier", from their 1984 album Frontline, includes the line "From Surfers up to Townsville..."
- The Kev Carmody song "Elly" mentions the line "She gazed up at the tall glass and concrete walls at Main Street Surfers Paradise".
- Jaded Cadence has released a song about living in Kallangur and travelling upon the Bruce highway to destinations such as Redcliffe, Mooroochydore and Cavill Avenue (Surfers Paradise).
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Surfers Paradise (State Suburb)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2009-05-10.
- "Advertising.". The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933) (Qld.: National Library of Australia). 7 August 1917. p. 10. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
- "Surfers Paradise Festival". Surfers Paradise Alliance. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
- Travel Channel 6 December 2006
- "Gold Coast City Council". Early History of Surfers Paradise. Retrieved February 3, 2006.
- Surfers Paradise Alliance — The Official Site
- Gold Coast City Council - Early History of Surfers Paradise
- Official Gold Coast Tourism Website
- University of Queensland: Queensland Places: Surfers Paradise