Lieutenant James Cook became the first European to note the region when he sailed along the coast on 16 May 1770 in the HM Bark Endeavour. Captain Matthew Flinders, an explorer charting the continent north from the colony of New South Wales, sailed past in 1802. Escaped convicts from the Moreton Bay penal settlement hid in the region. The region remained largely uninhabited by Europeans until 1823 when explorer John Oxley landed at Mermaid Beach, which was named after seeing a cutter named Mermaid. The hinterland's red cedar supply attracted people to the area in the mid-19th century. The western suburb of Nerang was surveyed and established as a base for the industry. Later in 1875, Southport was surveyed and established and quickly grew a reputation as a secluded holiday destination for the upper class Brisbane residents.
In 1925, tourism to the area grew rapidly when Jim Cavill established the Surfers Paradise Hotel, which transformed to Hard Rock cafe and Paradise Towers a resort apartment complex. The population grew steadily to support the tourism industry and by the 1940s, real estate speculators and journalists were referring to the area as the "Gold Coast." The true origin of the name is still debatable. The name was officially applied to the area in 1958, when the local government area covering Southport and Coolangatta was renamed "Gold Coast", although the urban area and the local government area have never had the same boundaries. During the 1970s, real-estate developers gained a dominant role in local politics, and high-rises began to dominate the area now known as Surfers Paradise and later in 1981 the airport was established.
In 2007, the Gold Coast overtook the population of Newcastle, New South Wales to become the sixth largest city in Australia and the largest non-capital city.
Read more about this topic: Gold Coast, Queensland
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