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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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Miami history

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Click to enlarge Hotel Miami, circa 1925. Photographer unknown.

Hotel Miami, circa 1925. Photographer unknown.

Looking south from North Nobby over Miami to Burleigh Heads, circa 1930. Photographer unknown.

Looking south from North Nobby over Miami to
Burleigh Heads, circa 1930. Photographer

Miami, looking north to Mermaid Beach, 1950. Photographer unknown.

Miami, looking north to Mermaid Beach, 1950.
Photographer unknown.

Back in the good times of the early 1920s, prospective investors were looking over plans for a new real estate development called Miami Shore at North Burleigh.

They built their wooden or fibro bungalows on estates such as Miami Shore, spent their holidays by the beach, or rented the cottages to other holiday makers.

Alternatively, they could stay at the up-to-date two-storey wooden hotel, the Hotel Miami opened by E. H. Berry in 1925.


The less well-heeled pitched their tents at Burleigh Heads and then walked and fished along the beautiful beach flanked by the two Nobbies.

The name Nobbies was a relic from the days when Burleigh local, timber getter and bullocky, Frederick Fowler, had grazed his head bullock, which he called Nobby, along the headlands.

Behind the dunes lay the great swamp, a vast wetland of ti-tree, heath and wallum. The native wildflowers, orchids and ferns flourished in the swamp and holiday makers often trekked into this wilderness, gathering armfuls of different specimens to display in their homes back in Brisbane.

Miami community

During the Depression in the 1930s, relief workers, employed as part of a government scheme, laboured to drain the swamp and slowly the great swamp diminished with future land reclamation.

In 1932, the recently formed Miami Progress Association approached the South Coast Town Council to plant the distinctive avenue of Norfolk Island Pine between the two Nobbies.

World War 2 also shaped and stimulated the commercial life of the area, beginning with the establishment of a large US military camp near Nobby's and the commencement of rutile mining along the beach.

Later, in 1944, two former army huts were used to construct the Miami Ice Works, a landmark of the area. Many of the postwar homes, shops and holiday flats were built from recycled military buildings.

Following the war, the Miami community developed with the founding of a Surf Life Saving Club, the construction of facilities such as tennis courts, the roller skating rink , the Miami Rollerdome and the Pizzey Park Sporting Complex.

In 1962, Page Newman built the Nobbys Beach chair lift which later formed part of the Magic Mountain entertainment park. A gamble which paid off, the chair lift carried 40,000 people in its first year of operation.

A building and tourism phenomena of the 1960s, local motels featured names such as the El Rancho Restel, the Florida Car-o-tel and the Pineapple Motel.

The first high school between Southport and border, Miami High, opened in 1963.

Like the distinctive sign Miami High on the scarp of the quarry, the school was both a landmark and symbol for a population growing up on the coast. Miami itself changed little during the dramatic development and expansion of the 1970s and 80s.

If you look carefully some of the those first bungalows constructed between the 1930s and '50s are hidden between the two Nobbys.

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

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