Southport is a suburb and the central business district near the midpoint of the Gold Coast, Australia and has one of the city's largest communities. At the 2011 Census, Southport had a population of 28,315.
Originally known as Nerang Creek Heads it was named Southport because it was the southernmost port of the colony of Queensland. Southport is recognised as the central business district of the Gold Coast City. It has the city's largest area of office space at 103,818 m². In the past, Southport was the central entertainment location of the Gold Coast. In current times it is set apart from the normal tourist hub of the Gold Coast. However, it has still experienced tourist-driven development and extraordinary growth. Southport has 18 high-rise towers either completed, under construction or awaiting commencement.
The Gold Coast Broadwater at dawn
A settlement was first surveyed in 1874 and the name Southport decided the following year. Southport was once the site of timber mills. A port was established to ship logs to Brisbane. Cutting timber opened up the area for settlement. Early rural industries included sugar growing and livestock grazing.
In 1883, the first Southport Pier was built to allow steamships to bring cargo and passengers to Southport.
By 1901 Federation Southport had become a tourist seaside spot and had a permanent population of 1230. The South Coast railway ( Railway St ) from Beenleigh to Southport opened in 1889 and closed in 1964. A ferry service - the Myer's Ferry connection – ferried passengers to Main Beach , Queensland and a horse and buggy service linked the area to Surfers Paradise. Tourism continued to expand in the first half of the 20th century. The construction of the Jubilee Bridge in 1925 between Southport and Main Beach replaced the ferry service and facilitated further growth. A cement jetty was built in 1914 at Southport.
On 25 April 1922 (ANZAC Day) Southport War Memorial located at the foot of Nerang Street was dedicated by the Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly for Albert, John Appel, in a presence of many Southport people. In 2010, renovation of the parklands required the relocation of the memorial; it was re-dedicated on 11 November 2010.
In 1927, the Pier Theatre which included a cafe and indoor golf course was built on the jetty. A fire destroyed the structure in 1932 but it was rebuilt and open to the public for nearly forty years.
By the 1950s, Southport was the central entertainment location of the Gold Coast. It was also the administrative centre, with a central business district.
The area of coast facing Southport is known as the Broadwater. The Broadwater houses the Southport Yacht Club and a number of marinas. The area is used for fishing, boating, and watersports. It is fronted by park lands which are a popular area with locals. Located opposite Southport on the Broadwater is the theme park Sea World. Although the Broadwater water is suitable for swimming, it is only 6 minutes from Surfers Paradise which features high quality beaches and infrastructure including a permanent life guard station. Southport is also bordered by the Nerang River.
Australia Fair Shopping Centre, located in the old Southport CBD, is a large indoor shopping centre containing 233 stores and a Senstadium Cinema. It was established in 1983 on the site of the former milk factory and is home to the major northern bus interchange for the Gold Coast. The opening of the Southport strip mall (the old CBD, located adjacent to the shopping centre) to low-speed through traffic has been a controversial local decision.
The Gold Coast Hospital ( Gold Coast University Hospital ), the only public-only hospital on the Gold Coast, is located in Southport. The surrounding area has been substantially redeveloped, and now includes a number of private medical practices. In 2005, Griffith University commenced teaching dentistry and medicine at a new building on land adjacent to Gold Coast Hospital. The state government has announced that a new Gold Coast Hospital will be constructed opposite the main Griffith University campus at Parklands. Plans for the existing hospital site are not yet clear, but general speculation is that it will become a private hospital.
The Southport Branch Library is located on the Corner of Garden & Lawson Streets. It was previously located on the top floor of the Australia Fair Shopping Centre. The Southport Branch Library was completed in 2002 and is one of 14 branches of the City's library. Upstairs in the same building is the Local Studies library which includes the City's historical collection of materials including documents, photographs, films, advertising and iconic objects and memorabilia.
St Hilda's School, which was founded in 1911, is located opposite the Hospital and is the only all-girls school on the Gold Coast. Southport is home to The Southport School, which was once the largest boarding school in Queensland. The School was founded in 1901 and has a well-known clock tower and chapel. It is also one of the few schools in Australia where cadet service is mandatory.
In April 2009, the three tower Southport Central development was opened.