Surfers Paradise is a suburb within the local government area of City of Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. At the 2011 census, Surfers Paradise had a population of 19,668. Colloquially known as ‘Surfers’, the suburb has many high-rise apartment buildings and a wide surf beach. The feature of the heart of the suburb is Cavill Mall, which runs through the shopping and entertainment precinct. Cavill Avenue, named after Jim Cavill, an early hotel owner, is one of the busiest shopping strips in Queensland, and the centre of activity for night life. One of the features of the area is the Surfers Paradise Meter Maids designed to build goodwill with tourists.
Surfers Paradise is the Gold Coast’s entertainment and tourism centre and the suburbs high-rise buildings are the best known feature of the city’s skyline.
In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, Surfers Paradise was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as a “location”.
James Beattie, a farmer, became the first European to settle in the area when he staked out an 80-acre (32 ha) farm on the northern bank of the Nerang River, close to present-day Cavill Avenue. The farm proved unsuccessful and was sold in 1877 to German immigrant Johan Meyer, who turned the land into a sugar farm and mill. Meyer also had little luck growing in the sandy soil and within a decade had auctioned the farm and started a ferry service and built the Main Beach hotel. By 1889, Meyer’s hotel had become a post receiving office and subdivisions surrounding it were named Elston, named by the Southport postmaster after his wife’s home in Southport, Lancashire, England. The Main Beach Hotel licence lapsed after Meyer’s death in 1901 and for 16 years Elston was a tourist town without a hotel or post office.
In 1917, a land auction was held by Brisbane real estate company Arthur Blackwood to sell subdivided blocks in Elston as the ‘Surfers’ Paradise Estate’, but the auction failed because access was difficult. This was the first recorded reference to Surfers Paradise, but like the Gold Coast, the title may already have been local vernacular – surfing having been demonstrated in Sydney in 1915.
Elston began to get more visitors after the opening of Jubilee Bridge and the extension of the South Coast Road in 1925; the area was serviced before then only by Meyer’s Ferry at the Nerang River. Elston was no longer cut off by the river and speculators began buying land around Elston and Burleigh Heads. Estates down the coast were promoted and hotels opened to accommodate tourists and investors.
In 1925, Brisbane hotelier Jim Cavill opened the Surfers Paradise Hotel located on what would later become the site of the Surfers Paradise Centre which incorporates the Surfers Paradise Beer Garden and Hard Rock Cafe. In opening the hotel and neighbouring zoo, Cavill created the first attraction in the suburb. Located between the ferry jetty and the white surf beach off the South Coast Road, it became popular and shops and services sprang up around it. In the following years Cavill pushed to have the name Elston changed to Surfers’ Paradise. The suburb was officially renamed on 1 December 1933 after the local council felt the Surfers Paradise name was more marketable. In July 1936 Cavill’s timber hotel burnt to the ground and was rebuilt the following year.
A development boom followed in the 1950s and 1960s. The first highrise in Surfers Paradise was erected in 1959 and was named the Kinkabool. The Kinkabool stood 10-stories high and remains to this day in Hanlan Street. Many tall apartment buildings were constructed in the decades that followed, including the iconic buildings included the Iluka, St Tropez and The Pink Poodle. The boom later saw strong Japanese investment in the 1980s.
Surfers Paradise is fronted to the east by the Surfers Paradise Foreshore, a rejuvenated public space that fronts Surfers Paradise Beach and the Pacific Ocean. The Foreshore was completed in 2011 and feature contemporary coastal streetscaping that incorporates existing trees and vegetation, including about 95 pandanus trees. The masterplanned space hosts a full calendar of free public events such as the Surfers Paradise Festival and the Australian Sand Sculpting Championships. The area of Surfers Paradise east of Surfers Paradise Boulevard sprawling towards the beach tends to focus on family-friendly attractions such as Time Zone, Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum and Adrenalin Park; while the nightclubs and adult entertainment tend to be concentrated in the western part of the suburb.
To the East it is bordered by Esplanade along the Ocean. The Westward inland side is defined by the canal system and the Gold Coast Highway.
Night markets in Surfers Paradise
The “Gold Coast Nightlife Precinct” offers many after-dark activities for visitors. The precinct is considered Australia’s nightlife capital and attracts close to 20,000 visitors daily. The area also hosts the largest Schoolies week event in the country, attracting tens of thousands of school leavers to the precinct.
As a popular destination for beach-goers, Surfers Paradise is noted for its relatively steady warm climate throughout the year. Temperatures recorded at the nearest active weather station, Gold Coast Seaway, are milder than Brisbane in summer and warmer in winter. Extreme temperatures at the station have ranged from 40.5 °C (104.9 °F) on 22 February 2004 to 2.5 °C (36.5 °F) on 19 July 2007. The average temperature of the sea ranges from 21.5 °C (70.7 °F) in July and August to 27.1 °C (80.8 °F) in February. 
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