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Gold Coast history and heritage

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Mudgeeraba history

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Click to enlarge Sehmish's bullock teams, circa 1920. Photographer unknown.

Sehmish's bullock teams, circa 1920.
Photographer unknown.

Mudgeeraba Railway Station, circa 1916. Photographer unknown.

Mudgeeraba Railway Station, circa 1916.
Photographer unknown.

Mudgeeraba township, circa 1910. Photographer unknown.

Mudgeeraba township, circa 1910.
Photographer unknown.

  1. An Aboriginal word meaning place of infant's excrement (Allen, J., Grammar Vocabulary and notes of the Wangerriburra Tribe).
  2. An Aboriginal word meaning the place where someone told lies, Mudgeerabah (Hanlon, The early settlement of the Logan and Albert Districts).
  3. An Aboriginal word meaning place of sticky soil  (Watson, F. J., A list of Aboriginal place names and their derivation, a supplement to the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of Australia, Vol. 48, No. 34).

Murry Jerry Cattle Run

Back in 1856, William Duckett White, a squatter from Beaudesert, leased a cattle run called Murry Jerry from the New South Wales Government. (Queensland was administered by the New South Wales Government until separation in 1859).

Part of the 25 square miles of this cattle run included the town we know now as Mudgeeraba.

Timber and farming

In 1868, when Murry Jerry land was opened up for free selection, a disgruntled White wrote, "Squatters are ruined". Many of the early selectors of the area were timber getters, saw millers and eventually dairy farmers.

In 1871, the population of Mudgeeraba district was listed as 31. The settlers lived an isolated, hard existence and relied on the steamers and cutters which travelled up the Nerang River, six to ten miles away, for supplies and contact with the outside world.

In 1884, there was a good deal of activity in timber hauling form Mudgeeraba to Tweed Heads. Many of the roads probably evolved from the early timber tracks. A visitor to the area in 1884 remarked that he "met timber wagons at every turn".

Mudgeeraba community

As the population grew and the road network improved, it became only a matter of time before some enterprising soul opened a hotel. The Mudgeeraba Hotel opened on 21 December 1883. William Laver, the proprietor, advertised that the premises were only five miles from Burleigh Heads.

Ales and spirits of the best brands were available, along with good stabling and secure paddocks for the horses. The hotel was surrounded by excellent lagoons for ducks, swans and other wildlife.

In 1896, the hotel was rebuilt as the Hampshire Terrace Hotel. Post office facilities were established in the hotel around the same time.

  • H. Carmichael's blacksmith's shop operated near the hotel.
  • A Presbyterian Church (the present day Uniting Church) was built in 1890 near the hotel.
  • During the week, the little church "became" the Mudgeeraba Provisional School.
  • Around 1895, a local government hall, a meeting place for the Nerang Divisional Board, was built just over the road from the Hampshire Terrace Hotel.

The next important event was the opening of the railway line through to Tweed Heads in 1903. The Mudgeeraba Railway Station was located near the present day highway entrance to Mudgeeraba. Railways have always had an impact on the layout of a town.

In 1914, the Laver family commissioned the building of a new hotel Mudgeeraba Exchange Hotel opposite the railway station. In the 1950s, the Exchange was sold and eventually renamed the Wallaby Hotel.

The township around the hotel and railway station grew to include a bakery, butcher shop, bank and, after World War I, the Mudgeeraba and Springbrook Memorial School of Arts. At the time of opening in 1922, the new hall was claimed to be the largest public hall in the South Coast District.

It certainly was the centre of attention on an evening in September 1936, when they switched on the first electric light in Mudgeeraba. Mr Faine threw the switch. It connected Mudgeeraba permanently with the 24 hour electricity service generated in Southport.

Information and images provided by the City of Gold Coast Local Studies Library.

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