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Coolangatta is a suburb of the Gold Coast with a population of approximately 4000 people, located in the southernmost part of the Gold Coast, in Queensland, Australia. It is named after the schooner Coolangatta which was wrecked there in 1846.

Coolangatta and its immediate neighbouring "Twin Town" Tweed Heads in New South Wales have a shared economy. The Tweed River supports a thriving fishing fleet, and the seafood is a local specialty offered in the restaurants and clubs of the holiday and retirement region on both sides of the state border.

The Gold Coast Airport, formerly known as Coolangatta Airport, is located near Coolangatta.

Early settlement

Coolangatta was one of the earliest settlements at the Gold Coast. Once again focused on a steep headland at Point Danger the area was occupied by Europeans from at least 1828 by a convict station and redcedar getters soon followed. Selectors followed in the 1860s and a small settlement at Coolangatta was established. In 1883 a township was surveyed.

Border town

As a border town Coolangatta included a customs office, boatshed and government wharf. Extension of the railway from Nerang to Tweed Heads in 1903 guaranteed the success of Coolangatta as a holiday township and it flourished from that time forward. Guesthouses and hotels were erected and a commercial centre soon followed.

Little remains of the earliest buildings at Coolangatta but some evidence remains of subsequent development in the early years of the present century. The border fence and gates that until recently were a characteristic of the area have now been removed but the sense of the border remains at Boundary Street running along the ridge of the headland between Queensland and New South Wales. The headland itself is an important landmark and tourist destination. Coolangatta symbolises the terminus of the Gold Coast and the long strip of beach that begins at Main Beach forty kilometres to the north.

To commemorate the centenary of the town, in 1984 a stone from the Coolangatta Estate homestead was donated by the citizens of Coolangatta Historic Village near Berry, New South Wales and was mounted on a plinth of granite from Aberdeen, Scotland, the birthplace of Alexander Berry.


Schooner Coolangatta

A topsail schooner of 83 feet in length and 88 tons, Coolangatta was built by James Blinkcell in 1843 for Alexander Berry whose property, Coolangatta Estate, adjoined Coolangatta mountain located on the northern bank of the Shoalhaven River, New South Wales.

Coolangatta was wrecked on Kirra / Bilinga Beach adjacent to a creek during a storm on Wednesday 18 August 1846.

On 6 July 1846, the ship sailed under Captain Steele from Brisbane, carrying two convict prisoners (George Craig in irons, and William George Lewis), to load red cedar logs at the Tweed River for Sydney. Steele found the river entrance closed by silt forming a bar, so he anchored in the lee of Point Danger off Kirra Beach. Red cedar logs were then hauled overland from Terranora Inlet and rafted from the beach, but in six weeks less than half of the contracted 70,000 feet of red cedar had been loaded. Meanwhile, five ships loaded with red cedar were bar-bound inside the river.

On 18 August 1846, while Steel was ashore, a south-east gale blew up. Steele's boat was damaged while getting through the surf and he watched from the beach as the gale intensified. Eventually, the prisoners were freed and all hands abandoned ship and swam for shore as the anchors dragged. The ship parted its anchors and washed ashore near what was later called Coolangatta Creek.

The survivors walked 70 miles north to Amity Point in six days, fed each night by different groups of friendly indigenous Australians, and were taken into Brisbane onboard the Tamar.

Government surveyor Henry Schneider named the area Coolangatta while surveying in 1883 for the land auction in March 1884.

Wintersun Festival

Each June Coolangatta hosts the Wintersun Festival, a two-week 1950s and 1960s nostalgia festival with free entertainment and attractions, including hot rods, restored cars and revival bands playing music of the era. (Credit: Wikipedia).



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