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Gold Coast history and heritage

Discover how the City of Gold Coast is working to conserve and celebrate the rich and unique heritage of the Gold Coast.

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Stories from the past

Each city has its own unique story of development. A city's places, spaces and stories enrich and enlighten its history. Experience the Gold Coast through stories and histories of larger than life characters, defining features and memorable moments.

Pioneering stories

Read stories about the everyday people who helped make the Gold Coast one of Australia’s premier places to live, work and play:

Wreck of the Cambus Wallace

Cambus WallaceWhile on its maiden voyage from Glasgow to Brisbane, on the morning of 3 September 1894, the barque Cambus Wallace was wrecked in heavy seas, with the loss of at least five men, in what is now the location of Jumpinpin Bar.

A consignment of explosives was collected from the wreck site and fired, some saying significantly destabilising that part of Stradbroke Island. Within a few years, subsequent heavy seas broke through the island at the same location, creating North and South Stradbroke Islands.

Recent attempts at relocating the wreck of the Cambus Wallace, along with the marker of the grave of four (perhaps five) seamen who perished while making for the shore, have been unsuccessful suggesting that rough seas and shifting sands may have reclaimed the final evidence of this wreck and the grave marker.

Read eye-witness accounts of these dramatic events:

South Sea islanders of the Gold Coast

Learn about the lives and contributions of these islanders, who were brought to the Gold Coast in the mid to late 1800s to work the cotton and sugar plantations of Southeast Queensland. They faced harsh conditions and treatment in this alien land but worked hard and adapted, contributing to the success of these industries.

World War II

Read transcripts, or listen to the recounts of these times by Deslie Dolan and Joyce Punch. Find out how The Southport School became the first operational United States Army hospital in Australia in early 1943 and how a large number of American and Australian soldiers spent their 'rest and recreation' on the Gold Coast.

Southport stories

Download Community Tales and read from a rich collection of stories from the community of Southport, or 'Early Southport' - a collection of paintings and recollections by Gladys Fedrick, who came to Southport in the 1950s.

Highway heritage  - stories from the 1930s to the 1970s

  • Multicultural entrepreneurs – download our booklet and find out about some of the multicultural settlers that helped to shape the identity of the Gold Coast
  • Video histories – stories that combine film footage, music, photos, sound effects with the interviewees’ voice to take you back to the time when tourism and development on the Gold Coast began to take off
  • Audio and oral histories – four transcripts and audio recounts, plus five transcripts from interviews, about what it was like to live on the Gold Coast in the mid-1900s

Maori showbands

Read about the Maori showbands that performed on the Gold Coast from the mid-1950s.

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