Understanding the Gold Coast
THE GOLD Coast is a popular holiday destination and dynamic business environment – a city associated with fun, sun, surf, sand and high rises. A city physically defined by its beaches, rivers and canals, and by its sub-tropical green mountain hinterland.
The city today has a vibrant mix of tourists and locals with over 500,000 permanent residents and nearly 12 million visitors per year.
Often described as a teenager that is finding its feet, the Gold Coast is maturing, strengthening its place as the sixth largest city in Australia and looking forward to its future and the opportunity to shine brightly on the world stage when the city hosts the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The following links offer information and inspiration about the heritage and character of the Gold Coast.
- Office of the City Architect and Heritage
- Gold Coast Local Studies Library
- Gold Coast Cultural Online
- Picture Queensland
- Naked City Guide
A brief history of the city
When Captain Cook sailed past in 1770, the area was a stretch of long open beach, low lying coastal heath, sandy ridge lines, pockets of coastal rainforest and, further inland, an even denser rainforest backdrop.
Historical record provides an understanding of the population of the local Aboriginal community before the arrival of Europeans, their hunter-gatherer society, ceremonial activities, language and myths and legends unique to the area.
Surveyors first visited the region in the 1840s and shortly afterwards the area opened up for cedar logging, sugar cane plantations and cotton farming. Town settlements started with Nerang and Southport just after the mid-1800s with some holiday settlement beginning along the coastal strip. The main form of transport from Brisbane at the time was by Cobb and Co coach or boat and later by train to Southport. In 1887 Southport was the most populated town in the area with approximately 1000 people.
In 1925, Jim Cavill built the Surfers Paradise Hotel in Elston, which officially became known as Surfers Paradise in 1933. But it was not until the early 1950s, as Surfers Paradise became a popular holiday centre for World War II returned servicemen and families, that the city we recognise today really began to take shape. Tall building development started in 1959 with Kinkabool at 10 stories and has since grown decade by decade to create the distinctive skyline with one of the world’s tallest residential towers Q1.
For greater insight into the history of the Gold Coast, see the Gold Coast Urban Heritage and Character Study.
A brief history of Evandale
A cultural heritage assessment by Jabree Ltd provides insight to the pre-European contact history and indigenous cultural values of the Evandale site. This report is available to download here
The land was selected in 1860 as farmland for cotton, and then sugar cane, but later converted to dairying and other agricultural uses.
In the 1960s the Gold Coast Council purchased the farmland of Evandale for the development of an arts and civic centre. The administration centre opened in 1976 and the cultural centre, which is today known as The Arts Centre Gold Coast, opened in 1986.
The 16.9 hectare Evandale site is currently home to The Arts Centre Gold Coast, Council’s Civic Chambers and associated administrative buildings and popular parklands.
The first civic building at Evandale – Council’s Surfers Paradise Administration Centre – was officially opened on 11 September, 1976. With its distinctive ‘beehive’ foyer, draped with tiers of greenery, the building housed Council’s administration, the city’s Council Chambers and also hosted a wide array of functions, exhibitions, ceremonies and events. The first Arts Centre opened on 6 December, 1986.
Like many administration centres in growing cities, the original building has struggled to keep pace with the city’s phenomenal growth over the past four decades.
With Council now meeting in the new Chambers Building directly across the road, and the city’s administrative workforce relocated off-site, the original administration building will be demolished early in 2016 to make way for Stage 1 of Evandale’s next chapter – delivery of the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct.
Acknowledging that the administration building has been of civic and personal significance to many, the building’s place in our city’s development has been captured through:
- archival capture of building plans and a full photographic record
- adaptation of suitable fittings and equipment
- a digital Book of Stories titled Evolving Evandale - Farmland to the Future, featuring the genesis and fascinating working life of the city’s first Evandale Civic Building – a window on the development of the Gold Coast itself.
- and, working in partnership with The Arts Centre Gold Coast, a documentary, THE TRANSFORMATION (see video below) to provide a permanent, engaging historic account of the building and its role in Evandale’s evolution.
- Exhumation of the time capsule buried in the building’s foyer on 11 September 1976 and future exhibition of suitable contents.