Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 29, 2016

Beach shacks

I grew up at the beach at Main Beach, near Surfers Paradise in Queensland. When we moved there in the 1950s the houses reallly were shacks made of fibro or timber.

Highrise buildings eventually made their way to Main Beach. A few were built on the beach side of the street, but at one point the local government decreed that nothing over 3 levels could be built, a good idea.

Recently the wife of a millionaire retail business man decided to build an 8 storey building on beside the beach. Local residents, including us, put up money to fight the request.

Needless to say, we lost and madam got to build her building. It is the big one on the right. The little white one is possibly one of the original shacks with a makeover.

Main Beach

I think it looks like an 8 storey toilet block.

Main Beach

Very few of the original buildings are left. This one is opposite where we used to live. It is a rejig of the one that was there then.

Main Beach

My father built the one below in 1968 for his friend George. My little brother used to go to work with Dad occasionally and mostly got into mischief. He was only 2.

George's house

I remember the timber house that was George’s old house. We had barbecues there every Sunday afternoon when Dad, George and their mates would return from fishing with a boatload of snapper and other local fish.

I also remember the cyclones in the 1960s when huge seas took away several metres of George’s backyard. As kids we thought it was great fun to watch a wave come in and crack a big chunk of land. The next few waves would carry it away.

That all seems to be forgotten now, even though big seas still threaten the coastline regularly.

This morning this was the front page of the local paper.

Gold Coast Bulletin

I can’t believe the council would be so stupid as to allow a 50 storey building to be built so close to the beach. It appears a precedent has been set by our retail millionaire. I won’t be stepping into one of their shops any time soon.

The 2 houses the 50 storey building may replace are old and tired and clearly need to be updated,  but not by a monster that will cast a shadow over the beach by early afternoon.

Old houses Main Beach

At least the council can’t stuff up the beach…or can they? There are plans to develop the spit, which would be criminal. This is the last bit of relatively building free land on the coast…leave it alone.

The spit Main Beach

We don’t want it all to look like this.

Surfers Paradise

Fortunately some things stay the same. I ran into Col the wormer this morning. He has been collecting worms for bait for about 50 years. He must have been scouring the shore when I used to swim there as a 12 year old, but I don’t recall seeing him.

I see him  regularly now and he has many tales to tell. I wonder if there will be a wormer to take his place when he finally gives up. (See more about Col here)

Col the wormer

I hope the council sees sense and stops this ridiculous building from going up. What do you think?


  1. I hate what property developers are allowed to get away with and the stupid, prating reasons given by Councils for allowing developers to rape and pillage for the benefit of their bank accounts. We Lilliputians have no hope against the might of the developers and Council. We have had a house built in our street that must surely qualify for the prize of the most concrete and steel ever poured into a residential site – the house is a tasteless citadel. I also think Councils are astonishingly short sighted when it comes to matters of the environment – and, for that matter, harmony in the community.

    • I agree. It makes you wonder what they are thinking sometimes.

  2. I am afraid that the real culprit is the high cost of those blocks of land. The shacks cannot survive and individual homes or smallish apartment blocks are not economically viable. I don’t mind high rise buildings providing they are surrounded by gardens and I think that the Gold Coast City Council has nowadays some sound building by-laws that should prevent the mistakes made in the past…hopefully…

    • I don’t have a problem with highrise buildings, but if the council regulations say no buildings above 3 storeys are to be built on the waterfront I think they should stick to it, not give in to those with money. The current council seems to want development without thinking of the consequences. The fifty storey building will be built on a relatively small block. I don’t see much room for gardens. I hope it doesn’t go ahead along with the double tower casino and cruise terminal on the Spit.

  3. It’s all about money unfortunately. One of my least favourite places in the world is Surfers Paradise. What a pity about Main Beach; now there’s no stopping them.

    • The beach at Surfers Paradise is looking great. The esplanade is planted with trees and looks fabulous. I would be happy if they bulldozed the city centre and started again.

      • Me too!

  4. Money talks… Behemoths line many a beachfront in the US. In addition to the obvious damage to the environment and quality of life for those around them, when disaster strikes, as it inevitably will, everyone pays for their selfishness through higher insurance premiums. Then, more cash flows into their pockets for the next monstrosity.

    • It is about money and greed. I hope the project doesn’t go ahead.

  5. Those two dear sweet houses left on the shore are so much nicer than the concrete box beside them! Another example of where money does not equal good taste and common sense.
    My father’s company owned a couple of fibro beach shacks at Broadbeach in the 50’s and 60’s and what fiun it was to stay there for the holidays! The srip between Main Beach and The Spit is the last vestige of a natural area on the Gold Coast and if the council allows that development to go ahead …….?!!
    Thank goodness that some old timers such as Col still exist!

    • I hope development doesn’t go ahead on the Spit. The current administration seems hellbent on growth at any cost.

  6. The things you sacrifice in the name of progress and development. Sad.

    • This area should be left alone.

  7. Palm Beach is my favourite spot on the Gold Coast – largely low to medium rise away from the beachfront with the exception of 19th Ave apartments which us taller and a couple of eight storey ones. The beachfront homes are quite tastefully done for the most part.

    • I haven’t been to Palm Beach for years. I still like Main Beach despite the highrise. The beach is still good.

  8. I was at school in Southport in the ’60s and Main Beach was my go-to beach. I well remember the erosion crises. It’s incomprehensible that a 50-storey block of apartments would be given approval for construction on the beachfront. As for the proposals for The Spit, they are heartbreaking. My dad used to fish for tailor along there.

    • We lived on the corner of Main Beach Pde and Aloha Lane, now the site of Bouganvillia apartments. We definitely had the best of Main Beach in the 50s and 60s. It was a great place to grow up.

  9. Unfortunately, money & good taste don’t always go together. The same thing is happening in the little coastal town my mother lives in – although the new houses are limited to 2 stories. When I was there a couple of weeks ago I saw that some of the original sea front houses are being carefully restored instead of being replaced. An encouraging sign.

    • There isn’t much hope that the old houses will be renovated at Main Beach. The land is very valuable and sought after by developers.

  10. That building is an eyesore. I’m just assuming that money changed hands in order for that to happen!

    • It wouldn’t surprise me.

  11. Comimo luxury living, Mum and Dad called it. I remember those days well. My sister Julie and I used to come down the coast every weekend when we were young. Used to hang around with Greg and Julie (George’s kids), and the Wolfie kids down the road. BBQ’s at Lewis’ and Perrin’s were great even when you were only 6 yrs old. Those days were simpler.

    • I know Julie and Greg well. I was a little older than them, but my sister played with Julie. I remember the Wolfe kids very fondly. Paul Perrin was one of Dad’s fishing mates. They were excellent times.

  12. Out of control by the sound of it, Debra.

    • I would like to see more thought put into the development.

  13. Although many coastal communities in the US suffer from hi-rise ugliness, many other communities rigidly enforce a 35 foot maximum height and have held steady to that rule. They are the richer for it.

    • I think there should be height restrictions along the beachfront.

  14. Oh no!!! A 50-storied monstrosity on the Main Beach front? Definitely not! And development on that lovely pristine piece of land on the Spit? A sacrilegious idea! Surely, enough people around Southport and Main Beach will kick up a huge stink to keep those last pockets of land pristine and skyscraper-free for future generations? Surfers Paradise was horribly mangled by greedy developers, and I certainly do not want Main Beach and The Spit to face the same fate. Some of the lovely old buildings on the beach front that remain, including George’s home built by your father, still hold a certain charm that concrete ‘toilet blocks’ definitely lack. I’d rather see some of those doubled-storied old castle have a makeover to keep the Main Beachfronts lovely. I’m well aware money talks, but, surely, there are some environmentally conscious councillors on board to stop this 50-storied building happening on THIS beach front? Maybe, I’m dreamin’ of keeping my own little castle by the sea?

    • Main Beach has lots of highrise, but to put a 50 storey building on the beach side if the highway is ridiculous.

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