The estuary area around Little Tallebudgera Creek and the superb stretch of beach to the east was a feasting ground for the Kombumerri people.
Apart from movable feasts, evident from the surviving eugarie shell middens, archaeologists in the 1960s uncovered an ancient aboriginal burial ground at Broadbeach. A reserve, known as Kombumerri Park, lies in the vicinity of this area.
In the 19th century, at the junction of Little Tallebudgera Creek and the Nerang River, timber getter, Ned Harper established an assembly point for the cedar, beech, ash, teak and mahogany logs which had been cut from the riverbanks upstream.
From the deep water frontage of Harpers Wharf, sailing vessels took aboard the roughly hewn timber destined for Sydney or Brisbane or rafted the timber to Brisbane. The area south of the original Harpers Wharf eventually formed part of the Cascade Gardens Reserve. In 1934, 280 acres of vacant crown land about one mile south of Surfers Paradise was released by the Department of Lands to form part of a new township along the Southport-Burleigh Road. The township was to be known as Broadbeach and be part of the Nerang Shire.
Road clearing commenced, land was set aside for recreation and the first section of the site was surveyed into 70 allotments and advertised for sale immediately after Easter in 1934. In 1938 tenders were called for the erection of a Surf Club, dressing room and amenities blocks at Broadbeach.
The Broadbeach sand dunes were a strategically important resource during World War Two. Southport Minerals mined the mineral sand rutile from the leased reserves and exported the concentrated mineral overseas for the production of special alloy steels and welding equipment.
By the mid-1950s, mining had ceased, the dunes were reconstructed, planted with grasses and trees and the land was auctioned for redevelopment. In November 1960 the Broadbeach State School opened on over seven acres of land facing the beach between Alexandra Avenue, Old Burleigh Road and Surf Parade. The commercial and housing development of the area was led by the construction of the Lennon’s Broadbeach Hotel which was completed in 1957. Built on a site which had been mined for mineral sand, the hotel was often promoted as an oasis in the desert and, following its demolition in 1987, became the site of the Oasis Shopping Centre.
On the western side of the Gold Coast Highway, was the site of the Broadbeach Island Caravan Park located on Broadbeach Island on the Little Tallebudgera Creek. The caravan park was removed in the early 1980s to make way for the establishment of Jupiters Hotel and Casino which was completed in 1986. Around the former site of Lennons Hotel, high rises developments grew and in 2004 the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre opened on the western side of the Gold Coast Highway on the former site of the Broadbeach Seniors Centre. The front of the centre features a sculpture of a seal and her pup by Len Shillam. This sculpture was originally located beside the pool of Lennons Hotel and acted as a filter. Upon the demolition of the hotel it was relocated to a nearby Japanese Restaurant before going missing. In 1997 it was recovered from the bottom of a canal and moved temporarily to the Broadbeach State School after restoration. It is listed on the Gold Coast Local Heritage Register.
In 2014 Broadbeach became the southern terminus of the Gold Coast light rail connecting the area directly to Surfers Paradise and Southport. In the same year Pacific Fair Shopping Centre commenced a major refurbishment.
Broadbeach is the home for a number of major events including the Broadbeach Jazz Festival, Blues on Broadbeach Music Festival and the Broadbeach Country Music Festival.
Further reading and sources of information
- McRobbie, Alexander. 20th Century Gold Coast People. The Gold Coast Arts Centre Press, 2000.
NERANG SHIRE COUNCIL. (1934, March 2). South Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.), p. 8. Retrieved June 29, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1337720788
- SOUTHPORT TOWN COUNCIL. (1938, January 14). South Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.), p. 10. Retrieved June 29, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1337625888
- GOVERNMENT LAND SALE. (1935, January 11). South Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.), p. 6. Retrieved September 8, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article133483709
- BROADBEACH SCHOOL OFFICIALLY OPENED. (1960, November 30). Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.), p. 55
- ARTWORK SEALS A FANTASTIC FIRST YEAR. (2005, 30 June). Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, Qld.), p. 2.