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History of the Gold Coast

Geographical formation:

The Gold Coast  is situated south of  Brisbane in South East Queensland. It stretches from the Albert River in the North to  the Queensland border in the South approximately 56 km [35 miles], and extends from the coast to the foothills of the Great Dividing Range. [commonly referred to as the Gold Coast Hinterland].

23 million year old Wollumbin/Tweed volcano. exposed Volcanic rock
Just 30 km inland from the Gold Coast shoreline the land rises to 900 m above sea level. The Hinterland is part of the   cauldron of  these extinct volcanos centered around Mt Warning. This gives rise to some of the most diverse and protected fauna and Flora in the world. The two main National Parks in the area are Lamington and Springbrook.
The three main river systems that run through the Gold Coast -“Nerang River”, Albert River” and the “Coomera River” all have their source in the Lamington National Park.

The major river in the area is the Nerang River. Much of the land between the coastal strip and the hinterland was once wetlands drained by this river, but the swamps have been converted into man-made waterways (over 260 km , or over 9 times that of Venice, Italy) and artificial islands covered in upmarket homes. The heavily developed coastal strip sits on a narrow barrier sandbar between these waterways and the sea.

Population History of the Hinterland and Gold Coast.

For at least 6000 years, Aboriginal people lived in and visited these mountains. The vanished Wangerriburras and Nerangballum tribes claimed home to the plateau territory. Roughly 900 years ago the indigenous population began to decline.

Captain Patrick Logan and Allan Cunningham were the first European explorers in the area. The timber cutters soon followed, including the Lahey family who owned one of Queensland’s largest timber mills at the time.

Robert Martin Collins campaigned heavily for the protection of the area from logging from the 1890s.Later it was another local, Romeo Lahey who recognised the value of preserving the forests. He campaigned to make it one of the first protected areas in Queensland. The O’Reilly family established a guesthouse near the park in 1926, now named O’Reilly’s Rainforest Guest House, and founding members of the National Parks Association of Queensland built Binna Burra Lodge next to the park in the 1930s . BinnaBurra

The park was named after Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1902.

Bernard O’Reilly became a hero when he rescued the survivors from a crashed Stinson plane from the remote Lamington wilderness. In typical Aussie Bushman Fashion he embarked on his rescue mission taking only onions to eat. Only a small portion of the original wreck remains today, 10 km south from the Oreilly’s guesthouse.

Early European settlement in the area now known as the Gold Coast displaced many Aborigines from the traditional country. Among the Aborigines that remained on the Gold Coast several became well known to the European community and are recorded in historical documents. It is sometimes difficult to determine the specific region that was the traditional country of people featured in many of the early historical documents, due to the movement of individuals and family. Extensive research has enabled some very detailed accounts of the lives of a few of the Aborigines that lived in the Gold Coast region over 100 years ago. More……..

Captain James Cook became the first European to note the region when he sailed along the coast on May 16, 1770 in the HM Bark Endeavour.

Captain Matthew Flinders, an explorer charting the continent north from the colony of New South Wales, sailed past in 1802. Many escaped convicts from the Moreton Bay penal settlement hid in the region, the region remained largely uninhabited by Europeans until 1823 when explorer John Oxley landed at Mermaid Beach, which was named after his boat, a cutter named Mermaid.

The hinterland’s red cedar supply attracted large numbers of people to the area in the mid 1800s. The western suburb of Nerang was surveyed and established as a base for the industry. Later in 1875, Southport was surveyed and established and quickly grew a reputation as a secluded holiday destination for the upper class Brisbane residents.

In 1925, tourism to the area grew rapidly when Jim Cavill established the Surfers Paradise Hotel, which transformed to Circle on Cavill neighbouring with Towers of Chevron Renaissance shopping mall and resort apartment complex. The population grew steadily to support the tourism industry and by the 1940s, real estate speculators and journalists were referring to the area as the “Gold Coast.” The true origin of the name is still debatable. The name “Gold Coast” was officially proclaimed in 1958 when the South Coast Town Council was renamed “Gold Coast Town Council.”
Water Supply:
The Hinze Dam 15 km southwest of Nerang is the population’s main water supply. The Little Nerang Dam which feeds into Hinze Dam can supplement part of the city area’s water needs, and both are managed by the city council directorate Gold Coast Water. Reforms of the way in which the water industry is structured have been announced by the State Government, with transfer of ownership and management of water services from local government to the state occurring in 2008-09. Gold Coast City Council also sources water from Wivenhoe Dam, west of Brisbane for northern suburbs when the Hinze Dam, at one-tenth of Wivenhoe capacity, becomes low.
Water shortage and water restrictions have been current local issues, and a few new Gold Coast residential areas have recently included dual reticulation in their planning and development to supply water from a new water recycling plant being built concurrently. This will make available highly treated recycled water for use around the home in addition to potable water. The Gold Coast has received world recognition for this scheme in its Pimpama-Coomera suburbs. Gold Coast Water has also been recognised for its world leading HACCP water quality management system by the World Health Organisation which published Gold Coast Water’s system as a good model for managing water quality and safety from catchment to tap. A desalination plant is currently under construction at Tugun to supplement Southeast Queensland via a water grid.


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