So What is the History of Coolangatta?
According to Wikipedia, the history of Coolangatta goes back to at least 1828 as being occupied by European settlers. In those early days there was a convict station and not much else. In the mid 1800’s selectors arrived and the area was finally surveyed in 1883. In 1884 there was a land auction for the new township of Coolangatta.
Coolangatta took its name in 1883 from the schooner Coolangatta which was wrecked at Kirra/Bilinga beach in a storm in 1846. The survivors from the ship found themselves walking for 6 days to cover 70 miles before they reached Amity Point and rescue!
Coolangatta was a sleepy border town and consisted of not much more than the border post, a customs office and the wharf which was run by the government. It was not until 1903 when the railway was extended that Coolangatta’s future was secured and it became a busy holiday town.
In the early days all the buildings were low-rise and built on sand. Hotels soon were added to the landscape along with small holiday shacks and guesthouses. The commercial centre of Coolangatta was gradually built up as more business people moved to the area to service the growing number of holiday makers.
The headland flourished as more and more people discovered this beach paradise. The border gates were in Coolangatta and all travellers needed to pass through these gates to move from Queensland to NSW or in the reverse.
Almost all of the original buildings are gone from the Coolangatta area and have been replaced with more modern housing and better hotels. The area is no longer the sleepy town it once was, though it is definitely more relaxed than say Broadbeach or Surfers Paradise.
The border gates have long been removed and have been replaced with a border marker, dividing the state border in the area known as the ‘Twin Towns’.
During summer there is a one hour time difference depending on which side of the marker you are standing on. NSW runs daylight saving during the summer months while Queensland does not. This can cause considerable difficulties for those who are not used to the time difference on opposite sides of the one street! If you have an appointment in Tweed Heads and you are staying in Coolangatta be sure to check whether the time is in daylight saving time or not. Many a concert or show has been missed by people mixing up the times!
Because of this time difference, visitors to Coolangatta can often be spotted photographing themselves undertaking “time travel” jumping from one side of the border marker to the other!
Those wanting to learn more about the history of Coolangatta can visit the headland where the lighthouse still stands. This is located at Point Danger and holds a memorial to Captain Cook who named the point and described the area during the Endeavour’s voyage in 1770.
Coolangatta has grown in popularity largely as a result of major surfing carnivals being held here over the years. As these carnivals were publicised the area became known as a surfing hot spot. Although surfing has been a major part of its history, Coolangatta still has a family feel and continues to be popular with local families as well as those visiting the area. Surf clubs have sprung up along the beachfront and offer a relaxed way to get a meal and spend time by the ocean.
With the Coolangatta Airport now taking international flights from budget carriers, Coolangatta is set to become more and more popular as a beach destination – going back to its roots as a great holiday destination but with a modern twist for today.