Gold Coast Commonwealth Walkway
The Gold Coast was chosen to host the Commonwealth Games in 2018, the biggest sporting and cultural event ever to be held in Queensland, welcoming some 6500 athletes and team officials from 71 nations and territories, spreading the spirit of friendship and sharing the values of the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Walkway is a lasting legacy of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, comprising 37 bronze markers indicating the points of most significance along a 10km route. The route, the first of its kind outside the UK, offers an insight into the story of our modern city, nestled between picturesque coastline and world heritage-listed rainforests.
The Yugambeh people have lived in and around this coast, its rivers and hinterland for more than 23,000 years. European settlers judged the land as difficult to access and hard to farm. Cotton plantations failed but from 1866, the success of sugar cane determined much of the area’s life and landscape for the next 130 years.
The first hotels came in 1872, with the appropriately named Planters Rest in Nerang attracting visitors for fishing and shooting. Burleigh Heads was laid out as a watering place and Southport a marine township by George Pratten and flourished from a reasonable road
and a bone-rattling coach service link to Brisbane. The Gold Coast firmly met the 19th century requirement for a coastal resort with broad expanse of still water and beaches composed of sand of exquisite purity and whiteness.
In February 1884, Queensland’s Governor, Sir Anthony Musgrave, visited the thriving township and built a vice-regal residence, later becoming the nucleus of The Southport School. Within a year, Southport was known as the imperial watering place of the Colony.
By January 1889, Southport was linked to Brisbane by rail and a new influx of holiday-makers began to arrive - coal miners from Ipswich, government office workers on excursion and honeymooners. The South Coast became the resort for all classes.
By 1903, young people from across south-east Queensland were flocking to the open surf beaches. After the construction of the Pacific Highway in the 1920s, many Queensland families built beachfront holiday homes and during World War II, many allied service personnel visited the area for rest and recreation. Many returned in post-war years to visit, reside or invest in the region. By 1949, Surfers Paradise was flourishing with American-style hotels, caravan parks and trailer parks, and by 1960, it could boast its first high rise apartment block, Kinkabool. Within seven years, the now familiar skyline of apartment buildings was visible from a distance, growing higher and spreading over the next 30 years.
Canal estate subdivisions modelled on those in Florida, USA defined the development further. Within a decade, previous low tidal land and river islands had been reconstructed with sand pumped from the Nerang River, including Paradise Island, Chevron Island, Isle of Capri, Rio Vista and Miami Keys. By 1958, what had become the nickname for the area was officially adopted as the Gold Coast Town Council. A year later, the town became a city.
The coast’s permanent population grew quickly throughout the 1970s and 1980s, bolstered by retirees and increasingly, service workers catering for the construction and tourism industries or working in the retail sector. On any given day, around 80,000 tourists now visit the Gold Coast.