Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is a coastal city of Australia located in South East Queensland, 94km south of the Queensland capital of Brisbane. With a population approximately 540,000 in 2010, it is the second most populous city in the state, the sixth most populous city in the country, and also the most populous non-capital city in Australia.

The Gold Coast is known as a major tourist destination with its sunny subtropical climate, surfing beaches, canal and waterway systems, its high-rise dominated skyline, nightlife, and rainforest hinterland. The Gold Coast is the host city for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

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History

Lieutenant James Cook became the first European to note the region when he sailed along the coast on 16 May 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. 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 people to the area in the mid-19th century. 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 Hard rock cafe and Paradise Towers a 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 was officially applied to the area in 1958, when the local government area covering Southport and Coolangatta was renamed "Gold Coast", although the urban area and the local government area have never had the same boundaries.

During the 1970s, real-estate developers gained a dominant role in local politics, and high-rises began to dominate the area now known as Surfers Paradise and later in 1981 the airport was established.

In 2007, Gold Coast overtook the population of Newcastle, New South Wales to become the sixth largest city in Australia and the largest non-capital city.

Geography

Gold Coast City is situated in the southeast corner of Queensland, to the south of Brisbane, the state capital. It is separated from Logan City, a suburban area of Brisbane by the Albert River. There the Gold Coast City stretches from Beenleigh and Russell Island to the border with New South Wales approximately 56 km (35 mi) south, and extends west to the foothills of the Great Dividing Range in World Heritage listed Lamington National Park.

The southernmost town of Gold Coast City is Coolangatta which includes Point Danger and its lighthouse. Coolangatta is a twin city with Tweed Heads located directly across the border. At 28.1667°S 153.55°E, this is the most easterly point on the Queensland mainland (Point Lookout on the offshore island of North Stradbroke is slightly further east).

From Coolangatta, approximately forty kilometres of holiday resorts and surfing beaches stretch north to the suburb of Main Beach, and then further on Stradbroke Island. The suburbs of Southport and Surfers Paradise form Gold Coast's commercial centre.

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.

To the west, the city is bordered by a part of the Great Dividing Range commonly referred to as the Gold Coast hinterland. A 206 km² (80 miles²) section of the mountain range is protected by Lamington National Park and has been listed as a World Heritage area in recognition of its "outstanding geological features displayed around shield volcanic craters and the high number of rare and threatened rainforest species." The area is popular among bushwalkers and day-trippers.

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