The land next to Miami State High School had been a busy quarry that supplied the base metal for the roads and streets of the Gold Coast but, in 1961, the rocky outcrop known as Nobby’s Bluff or Nobby’s Hill underwent a significant change after the Gold Coast City Council approved the development of a tourist attraction.
The year after Council gave the approval, Page Newman constructed a chairlift, look-out and cafeteria on the two hectare site. At the time popular Gold Coast attractions included David Fleay’s Wildlife Park, Currumbin Bird Sanctuary and Jack Evan’s Porpoise Pool, all with a focus on fauna. The Chairlift was one of the first tourist attractions on the Gold Coast to focus on amusements rides.
With fabulous 360 degree panoramic views from the top of the buff, the venture was a great success with the chairlift carrying 40,000 people in its first year of operation. For visitors not wishing to ascend the summit by chairlift, a tramway was available to transport people up and down the mountain. In 1976, a mock medieval castle was built on the summit with the site becoming an ever growing theme park known as Magic Mountain.
Illuminated at night, the castle was a well-loved feature of the Gold Coast for many residents and visitors with its bright orange turrets acting as a landmark for navigation and fishermen. In keeping with the magical theme, the General Manager Arthur Coghlan, an illusionist and escapologist, performed in the very popular and frequent magic shows.
Due to its success, intensive re-development of the site began in 1983 with $13.6 million spent to create an updated Magic Mountain Adventure Park designed by the Lark Company Pty Ltd from the United States. Attractions included strolling entertainers, a Parachute Tower, 40 metre high Wave Swinger ride, waterslides and an enlarged theatre to accommodate the growing audiences attending the magician shows throughout the day.
However, the growth of alternative theme parks with newer rides and attractions impacted on Magic Mountain, and in 1987 the theme park closed for refurbishment while its future was considered.
Magic Mountain never reopened and was advertised for sale. An auction took place selling the furnishings and fittings with a partial demolition of the site and the castle taking place in 1992. The following year the land was subdivided into two portions and sold for the development of apartments, restaurants and shops.
Despite the loss of the Gold Coast’s own castle by the sea, a little piece of Magic Mountain lived on in the Gold Coast skyline for some years. Some of the turrets were used on the roof of Dracula’s Theatre in Broadbeach and were a prominent feature of the theatre restaurant until they were removed in 2015.
Sources of information and further reading
- McRobbie, Alexander. The Fabulous Gold Coast: incorporating The Surfers Paradise Story, The Gold Coast Story in Color and Gold Coast People in Profile. Surfers Paradise: Pan News, 1984.
- “Castle on Top of the Hill Sold for $5 Million.” Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.) 5 Sep 1981, p. 7.
- “Coast to get Magic Mountain: New Attractions to top off Castle.” Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, QLD.) 20 Jan 1983, p. 2.
- “It’s Magic on the Mountain.” Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, QLD.) 1 Feb 1985, pp. 28-29.
- “Magic Mountain Future Hangs in the Balance.” Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, QLD.) 23 Dec 1987, p. 5.
- “The Mountain has Lost its Magic.” Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, QLD.) 11 Feb 1989.
- “Council Eyes Magic Mountain.” Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, QLD.) 3 Jul 1991, p. 1.
- “Sell-Off of Magic Mountain Land Parcels Underway.” Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, QLD.) 25 Jun 1993, p. 23.
- “Progress Saw the Magic Slide Away.” Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, QLD.) 22 Aug 2010, p. 71.
- “Nobbys Quarry.” South Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.) 25 Jan 1935, p. 5.
- “Greater Southport.” South Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.) 16 Sep 1932, p. 2.