The Florida Gardens Estate was one of the first residential canal developments on the Gold Coast. The real estate venture was started by Savoy Hotels Ltd and approved by the Albert Shire Council. The area included approximately 200 acres of reclaimed land situated immediately to the west of Cascade Gardens. It was located at the junction of Little Tallebudgera Creek and the Nerang River on what had been a dairy property owned by Mr Platell of Merrimac.
Planning of the site began in February 1956 and the first block was sold in 1957. Planning and sales of the land was underway but, it was not until 1958 that the legislation covering the canals came into force with the Queensland Canals Act. Overseeing the development was Albert Shire Council engineer Mr Tom E Peters, after whom one of the main roads through the development is named. The engineering company was Cardno and Davies.
At the time, Florida Gardens Estate was the biggest land development in the state of Queensland and included 1000 residential blocks and parkland areas. The sand pumping to raise the height of the land reportedly cost £178,000. To mark the completion of stage one of the project, a bridge was opened to connect the development with the Pacific (Gold Coast) Highway on Monaco Street over Little Tallebudgera Creek. The bridge was engineered by Cardno and Davies and was opened by Mr E J Gaven MLA in August 1957.
By 1960, Savoy Hotels had sold the second stage of the development, approximately 120 acres, to Lois and Barry Cleland who had arrived on the Gold Coast from New Zealand the previous year. The new company was Diamond Head Pty Ltd and they progressively raised a section of land, before selling it, and moving onto the next section. Fill was sourced from the excavations of the high rises in Surfers Paradise and the site of the Oasis Shopping Centre in Broadbeach.
In 1966, the Clelands dredged their first canal and, in 1974, Lois purchased Barry’s interest in the companies making up Diamond Head and became a sole developer.
This early canal estate was located east of Broadbeach and, with increasing development in the surrounding area, Florida Gardens is now part of Broadbeach Waters. As a result of the success of the venture and the establishment of the Canals Act, other residential developments were built in the immediate vicinity of Florida Gardens, including Rio Vista, Rialto and Miami Keys.
Sources of information and further reading
- “Broadbeach Estate.” South Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.), 18 Apr 1956, p. 1.
- “Florida Gardens Estate.” South Coast Bulletin, (Southport, Qld.), 14 Nov 1956, p. 20.
- “Florida Gardens Estate.” South Coast Bulletin, (Southport, Qld.), 28 Aug 1957, p. 1.
- OBITUARY (1952, May 14). South Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld. : 1929 – 1954), p. 11. Retrieved February 7, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225643314
- Savoy Hotels Surfers’ plan (1956, May 1). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 11. Retrieved February 7, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71800293
- History of Florida Gardens by Isabelle Thatcher. Manuscript LHM 5746. Manuscript held at the City of Gold Coast Local Studies Library.