What you need to know about Gold Coast
GOLD COST- COUNTRY MAP
The Gold Coast is a city in the Australian state of Queensland, approximately 66 kilometres (41 mi) south-southeast of the state capital Brisbane and immediately north of the border with New South Wales. With a population of 494,501 in the 2011 Census, the Gold Coast is the sixth-largest city in Australia, making it the largest non-capital city, and the second-largest city in Queensland. The city is counted as part of the Gold Coast–Tweed Heads Significant Urban Area (pop. 624,918 -2015) and the larger South East Queensland Region
The first settlement in what is now South East Queensland was as a penal colony at Redcliffe. The Gold Coast region remained largely uninhabited by Europeans until 1823 when explorer John Oxley landed at Mermaid Beach. The hinterland’s red cedar supply attracted people to the area in the mid-19th century. Later in 1875, Southport was surveyed and established and grew a reputation as a secluded holiday destination for wealthy Brisbane residents.
The Gold Coast region grew significantly after the establishment of the Surfers Paradise hotel in the late 1920s. The area boomed in the 1980s as a leading tourist destination and in 1994, the City of Gold Coast local government area was expanded to encompass the majority of Gold Coast’s metropolitan area, becoming the second most populous local government area in Australia after the City of Brisbane. Gold Coast is today a major tourist destination with its sunny subtropical climate, surfing beaches, canal and waterway systems, its high-rise dominated skyline, theme parks, nightlife, and rainforest hinterland, making tourism one of its most significant industries. The Gold Coast will host the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
POPULATION: 624,918 (2015)
Just over one tenth (10.2 per cent) of Gold Coast residents speak a language other than English at home, compared to 9.8 per cent in Queensland as a whole.
After English, the most frequently spoken language is Japanese, followed by Mandarin, Korean, Cantonese, Italian, German and Spanish.
The Gold Cost’s currency is Australian Dollars (AUD)
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 seeing a cutter named Mermaid. The hinterland’s red cedar supply attracted people to the area in the mid-19th century.
A number of small townships developed along coast and in the hinterland. The western suburb of Nerang was surveyed and established as a base for the industry and by 1870 a town reserve had been set aside. By 1873, the town reserve of Burleigh Heads had also been surveyed and successful land sales had taken place. In 1875, the small settlement opposite the boat passage at the head of the Nerang River, known as Nerang Heads or Nerang Creek Heads, was surveyed, renamed Southport with the first land sales scheduled to take place in Beenleigh. Southport quickly grew a reputation as a secluded holiday destination for wealthy Brisbane residents.
Gold Coast was originally known as the South Coast (because it was south of Brisbane). However, inflated prices for real estate and other goods and services led to the nickname of “Gold Coast” from 1950. South Coast locals initially considered the name “Gold Coast” derogatory. However, soon the “Gold Coast” simply became a convenient way to refer to the holiday strip from Southport to Coolangatta. As the tourism industry grew into the 1950s, local businesses began to adopt the term in their names, and on 23 October 1958 the Town of South Coast was renamed Town of Gold Coast. The area was proclaimed a city less than one year later.
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.
The Gold Coast is approximately half covered by forests of various types. This includes small patches of near-pristine ancient rainforest, mangrove-covered islands, and patches of coastal heathlands and farmland with areas of uncleared eucalypt forest. Of the plantation pine forests that were planted in the 1950s and 1960s, when commercial forest planting for tax minimisation was encouraged by the Commonwealth government, tiny remnants remain.
Gold Coast City lies in the southeast corner of Queensland, to the south of Brisbane, the state capital. The Albert River separates Gold Coast from Logan City, a suburban area of Brisbane.
Gold Coast City stretches from Beenleigh and Russell Island to the border with New South Wales (NSW) approximately 56 km (35 mi) south, and extends from the coast west to the foothills of the Great Dividing Range in World Heritage listed Lamington National Park.
The southernmost town of Gold Coast City, Coolangatta, includes Point Danger and its lighthouse. Coolangatta is a twin city with Tweed Heads located directly across the NSW 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 were once wetlands drained by this river, but the swamps have been converted into man-made waterways (over 260 kilometres (160 mi) in length or over 9 times the length of the canals 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 borders a part of the Great Dividing Range commonly referred to as the Gold Coast hinterland. A 206 km2 (80 sq mi) 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 attracts bushwalkers and day-trippers.
Gold Coast experiences a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with warm winters and hot, humid summers. The city experiences substantial summer precipitation mostly concentrated in thunderstorms and heavy showers with rain events occasionally lasting up to a few weeks at time giving residents “the Summer blues”, while winter is pleasant and warm with little rain. In fact, it is this pleasant winter weather that both the city and the Sunshine Coast—the coastal region north of Brisbane— are internationally renowned for. Extreme temperatures recorded have ranged from 2.5 °C (36 °F) on 19 July 2007 to 40.5 °C (105 °F) on 22 February 2005, although the city rarely experiences temperatures above 35 °C (95 °F) in summer or below 5 °C (41 °F) in winter.
The most practiced religion on the Gold Coast is Christianity. A total of 313,083 people identified as being Christian at the time of the 2011 Census.
The other most common religions practiced within the city were Buddhism (7949 persons), Islam (4036 persons), and Hinduism (2570 persons).
The largest changes in the religious affiliation of the population in Gold Coast City between 2006 and 2011 were for those who nominated Western (Roman) Catholic (15,040 persons), Anglican (7251 persons), Christian, not further described (6179 persons), and Buddhism (2475).
In fifty years, Gold Coast City has grown from a small beachside holiday destination to Australia’s sixth largest city (and the country’s most populous non-capital city). Situated within South East Queensland’s growth corridor, the Gold Coast is one of Australia’s fastest growing large cities, with a 5-year annual average population growth rate to 2015 of 1.8%, compared to 1.5% nationally. Gross Regional Product has risen from A$9.7 billion in 2001, to A$15.6 billion in 2008, a rise of 61 percent. Tourism remains fundamental to Gold Coast City’s economy, with almost 10 million visitors a year to the area. In the past the economy was driven by the population derived industries of construction, tourism and retail. Some diversification has taken place, with the city now having an industrial base formed of marine, education, information communication and technology, food, tourism, creative, environment and sports industries. These nine industries have been identified as the key industries by the City of Gold Coast Council to deliver the city’s economic prosperity. Gold Coast City’s unemployment rate (5.6 per cent) is below the national level (5.9 per cent). The declaration of Southport as the Gold Coast central business district (CBD) and a Priority Development Area (PDA), as well as new investment into the CBD, is driving transformative change and creating new business and investment opportunities.
Around 10 million tourists visit the Gold Coast area every year: of 849,114 international visitors, 3,468,000 domestic overnight visitors and 5,366,000 daytrip visitors. Tourism is the region’s biggest industry, directly contributing more than $4.4 billion into the city economy every year and directly accounting for one in four jobs in the city There are approximately 65,000 beds, 60 kilometres (37 mi) of beach, 600 kilometres (370 mi) of canal, 100,000 hectares of nature reserve, 500 restaurants, 40 golf courses and 5 major theme parks in the city. There have been various prospects and proposals raised for even more theme parks than the current five.
Gold Coast Airport provides connection across Australia with airlines including Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Tiger Airways. International services from Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia also land at Gold Coast Airport with airlines including Flyscoot, Jetstar, Qantas, Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia and Airasia X. Brisbane Airport is less than one hour from the centre of Gold Coast, and direct trains operate.
Music groups in this region include the Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra and Operator Please. Musicians Casey Barnes, Cody Simpson and Ricki-Lee Coulter are from Gold Coast. Music events include Big Day Out, Good Vibrations Festival, Summafieldayze, and V Festival (2007–2009).
The Arts Centre Gold Coast is the Gold Coast’s premier cultural facility for visual and performing arts with a performance Theatre, two Cinemas and an underground venue. The Theatre has hosted performance by The Imperial Russian Ballet Company, the Australian Ballet Company and the Queensland Ballet. Musicals, Plays and a variety of performances are regularly scheduled. Film Festivals and the Comedy Club host international Artists. A redeveloped Gold Coast Cultural Precinct is in planned to be functioning when the city hosts the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The Gold Coast’s education infrastructure includes:
Universities – Two major university campuses – Bond University at Robina and Griffith University at Southport. Both of these universities are popular options for Americans to study abroad. Southern Cross University and Central Queensland University also operate smaller campuses on the Gold Coast.
TAFE – Five campuses at Southport, Ridgeway (Ashmore), Benowa, Coomera and Coolangatta
Schools – Over 100 primary and secondary schools, both public and private and of a variety of denominations, including the selective state high school Queensland Academy for Health Sciences and single-sex private schools The Southport School and St Hilda’s School. The longest established public school on the Gold Coast is Southport State High School, having originally opened in 1916.
The car is the dominant mode of transport in the Gold Coast, with over 70% of people using the car as their sole mode of travelling to work. A number of major roads connect the Gold Coast with Brisbane, New South Wales, and the surrounding areas. The Pacific Motorway (M1) is the main motorway in the area. Beginning at the Logan Motorway (M6) in Brisbane, it travels through the inland Gold Coast region and links with the Pacific Highway at the New South Wales/Queensland border near Tweed Heads. Before the Tugun Bypass was completed in 2008, the motorway ended at Tugun. The Gold Coast Highway services the coastal suburbs of the Gold Coast, including Surfers Paradise, Southport, and Burleigh Heads. Starting at the Pacific Motorway at Tweed Heads, it runs parallel to the coast until it reaches Labrador, where it turns inland to meet the Pacific Motorway again at Helensvale. Other arterial roads include the Smith Street Motorway, Reedy Creek Road, Nerang–Broadbeach Road and Bermuda Street.
Public transport modes in the Gold Coast include buses, heavy rail & the new light rail for commuting to work, visiting attractions, and travelling to other destinations. The two primary pieces of public transport infrastructure on the Gold Coast are a light rail line running along the coast and a heavy rail line running inland and providing a connection to Brisbane.
The Gold Coast’s light rail service is called G:link. A 13 km (8.1 mi) line between Gold Coast University Hospital and Broadbeach connecting the key activity centres of Southport and Surfers Paradise opened in 2014. A 7.3 km (4.5 mi) extension, from the current terminus at Gold Coast University Hospital to Helensvale railway station, was announced in October 2015. The extension is expected to open before the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Queensland Rail operates rail services from Brisbane to the Gold Coast along the Gold Coast railway line. The line follows the same route as Brisbane’s Beenleigh railway line, continuing on after reaching Beenleigh. It then follows a route similar to that of the Pacific Motorway, passing stations at Ormeau, Coomera, Helensvale, Nerang and Robina before terminating at Varsity Lakes. An extension to Coolangatta and the Gold Coast Airport is proposed.
The Gold Coast’s main provider of public bus services is Surfside Buslines. It is a part of the TransLink initiative by the Queensland Government, designed to coordinate the public transport providers in Brisbane and the surrounding areas. The majority of the bus routes that Surfside operates run along the Gold Coast Highway. Services are frequent during the day, with intervals being as little as 5 minutes between Southport and Burleigh Heads.
Gold Coast Airport is located at Coolangatta, approximately 22 kilometres (14 mi) south of Surfers Paradise. Services are provided to interstate capitals and major cities as well as to major New Zealand cities, Malaysia, Japan and Singapore.