An older and less up-market area of the Gold Coast. The most southerly locality on the coast, it is a twin town with Tweed Heads, which is across the border in NSW. The Coolangatta airport, which serves the whole Gold Coast region, is located behind Bilinga Beach.

Location: 102 km south of Brisbane

Coolangatta Beach

Coolangatta Beach and Greenmount Beach form a continuous strand backed by some foreshore greenery with picnic tables, a public telephone and markets along the foreshore on the second Sunday of the month. Greenmount forms the eastern end of the beach and Coolangatta the west. However, both have their own surf lifesaving clubs: the Coolangatta Beach club is on the foreshore, off Marine Parade.

To the immediate east of Greenmount Beach is a small rocky elevated headland topped by Pat Fagan Parkwhich offers fine views and picnic tables.

On the eastern side of the headland is Rainbow Bay which is but a smallish cove, although it has a surf lifesaving club and toilets. On its eastern side is Snapper Rocks, at which point the coast veers southwards again, opening out to Duranbah Beach which is a noted surfing location. Behind the beach is a foreshore area atop the rugged headland of Point Danger (named by Captain Cook), on which sits a lighthouse (at the end of Boundary St which forms part of the state border) that lays claim to being the first in the world to experiment with laser technology but the experiment - carried out in 1971 - proved unsuccessful and it returned to the more conventional mirrors, magnifying glass and powerful electric lamps. There are picnic spots and a walk along the cliff-edge. Dolphins can sometimes be seen out to sea. There are views of the coastline from Surfers Paradise to Byron Bay.

Kirra Beach

At the western end of Coolangatta Beach is Kirra Point with its long breakwater forming a protective barrier for Coolangatta Beach. On the western side of the Kirra headland is Kirra Beach which is the district's most notable surfing area, offering challenges for the expert, and smaller waves closer in to shore for beginners who can hire a long board for the day.

From this point the coastline veers in a north-westerly direction. The beach is continuous between here and the small mouth of Flat Rock Creek, although its name changes from Kirra Beach to North Kirra Beach to Bilinga Beach to Tugun Beach. There is a narrow foreshore area which slims to a sliver then virtually disappears at Bilinga Beach.

Each of these four designated beaches has its own surf lifesaving club: the Kirra Beach club is adjacent Marine Parade in Coolangatta, with toilets and public telephones nearby; the North Kirra club is on Pacific Parade, in Bilinga, with toilets and picnic tables nearby; the Bilinga Beach club is next to Golden Four Drive, in Bilinga, and the Tugun club is on O'Connor St, in Tugun, with toilets and telephones adjacent.

Captain Cook Memorial Lighthouse, Point Danger

In The Area

Natural features: Coolangatta Beach; Snapper Rocks; Greenmount Beach; Rainbow Bay; Kirra Beach; Flat Rock Creek; North Kirra Beach; Tugun Beach; Bilinga Beach; Springbrook National Park (Mt. Cougal; Cougal's Cascades).

Built features: localities of Bilinga, Tugun and Currumbin; Currumbin Bird Sanctuary; Olson's Bird Gardens; Tandem Skydive.

Heritage features: Point Danger (named by Lieut. James Cook). A memorial to James Cook takes the form of a capstan moulded from cast-iron ballast jettisoned from the Endeavour and recovered in the 1960s. Point Danger lighthouse was the first lighthouse in the world to experiment with laser technology. The experiment was unsuccessful and it returned to conventional mechanicals.

Brief history

The area was first settled by whites in the 1880s as a holiday village,. The arrival of the railway in 1903 aided the town's growth and attractiveness to Southerners to whom Coolangatta became 'the' place to visit for a sun-filled holiday. Coolangatta began and remains a holiday destination geared towards families rather than young people who are more attracted to the bright lights of Surfers and Southport.

Origin of name: derived from Coolangatta Creek, which was named around September 1883, because the schooner Coolangatta, owned by Alexander Berry (1781-1873) merchant and settler, Shoalhaven River area (NSW), was wrecked off the creek mouth on 18th August 1846. The Creek was probably named by surveyor Alexander Schneider, but the name originated in the Aboriginal "culingatty", or "koolangutta", Murrin-jari language, which identified a mountain near the entrance of the Shoalhaven River and after which Berry's schooner was named.