The Gold Coast is about to let its hair down for the party of a lifetime – literally.
If you see a grey or two in there, it’s no wonder – the South-East Queensland hub as we know it today turns 60 this year. To celebrate, the city is throwing a birthday bash, and everyone’s invited.
According to Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate (also about to become a sexagenarian), the party will be one of the biggest ever held in Goldie.
“We deserve it,” he says. “The Gold Coast’s lifestyle is an outdoor one and we will be doing something special to celebrate.”
The icing on the cake is a surprise performance by home-grown success story Amy Shark, who hopes to top her showstopper appearance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games closing ceremony.
“I can’t wait to celebrate,” the singer says. “We’re going to have a massive party, so get ready!”
The beaches that have become global ambassadors for both Queensland and Australia as a whole are much older than 60, of course, but they hide the years well.
Originally known as the less-glittering South Coast, the advent of high-rise apartments in and around Surfers Paradise in the late 1950s caused a surge in property prices that led to the golden handle.
In May of 1959, the Gold Coast became the city’s official name.
The nickname brought together a community that had been fractured by the Great Cyclone, which devastated the area in 1954. Up to 30 people died in the natural disaster, and its chaotic effects were felt as far south as Tasmania.
But the Gold Coast bounced back during the 60s, reinventing itself as a holiday hotspot for families. In 1962 the city’s first theme park opened in response to the tourism boom. Magic Mountain at Nobby Beach thrilled fun seekers of all ages until its closure in 1987, but it paved the way for the theme park portfolio that’s become a pillar of the Gold Coast.
The city took the world stage in 2018, when the Commonwealth Games showed global audiences the sights and delights of the Gold Coast. Hometown athletes went head-to-head with the world’s best against one of the most picturesque backdrops to ever host the event.
The success of the Games cemented the Gold Coast’s reputation as a sport centre. The Gold Coast Titans took the city into the NRL in 2007 and shot to the code’s finals in 2009.
For others, the Gold Coast is home. Shark was born and raised on the Gold Coast, and still resides there despite her phenomenal international success.
“The Gold Coast is home and always will be,” she says. “I love coming back here after touring the world. It’s an incredibly special place.”
In just six decades, the Gold Coast has transformed itself from a small beach town of 80,000 people to Australia’s sixth largest city – and there’s no sign of slowing down.
“We’ve come a long way,” says Destination Gold Coast chairman Paul Donovan.
“The Gold Coast is now Australia’s holiday playground, but we must focus on the vision of where we want to be and what further strings we can add to our bow as we grow.”
This article was originally published on AAP as Sexagenarian celebration for Gold Coast.