Embracing the Make-believe — The Making of Surfers Paradise

Moore, Keith (2005) Embracing the Make-believe — The Making of Surfers Paradise. Australian Studies, 18(1), pp. 187-210.


A name can create an image that can have a powerful determining effect on an eventual outcome. In 1917, Real Estate Agent Thor Jensen decided that the name 'Surfers Paradise' could conjure the image of a beachside 'Shangri-la' in the minds of Australians. Together with Arthur Blackwood, he bought virtually uninhabited coastal land overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Elston, to the south of Southport, and sold it as 'The Surfers Paradise Estate'. Opening a hotel a short distance from the foreshore eight years later, James Cavill embraced Jensen's vision by naming his establishment 'The Surfers Paradise Hotel'. Other entrepreneurs joined Cavill in catering for tourists and by the mid-1950s, the price of land at Surfers Paradise had gone 'sky high'. The excitement continued with high-rise apartments and international-standard tourist hotels replacing much of the low-set accommodation erected a decade earlier. In commenting in 1988 that envy existed over the way Surfers Paradise had triumphed over other Gold Coast locations by possessing such a 'promotable' title, historian Alexander McRobbie recognised the locality's unassailable position. Clearly, 'Elston' could not have captured the public's imagination as a tourist destination in the way that Surfers Paradise had.

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ID Code: 9572
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Gold Coast, Tourism, Beach, Semiotics
ISSN: 0954-0954
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2005 British Australian Studies Association
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Deposited On: 28 Sep 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:14

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