Broadbeach, a Gold Coast suburb immediately south of Surfers Paradise, lies approximately between the Gold Coast Highway and the beach. To its west is Broadbeach Waters, a larger residential area consisting of mainly canal estates - Miami Keys, Florida Gardens and Rio Vista chief among several.
At the north-east corner of Broadbeach the Little Tallebudgera Creek joins the Nerang River, and it was near here that a wharf was built in the 1840s to transport cedar and other valuable timber harvested from the inland ranges. Timber transport aside, activity in the area was limited. The significant coastal towns of the early twentieth century were Southport and Coolangatta, linked by rail (1889, 1903) along a line which kept to the more useful inland agricultural country rather than the coastal dunes of the Broadbeach area.
The locality of Broadbeach did not emerge until 1934 when a new township of the same name was surveyed. Sand-mining of local dunes began in this period, Southport Minerals extracting rutile for export to foreign markets for use in steel production. The Queensland Post Office Directory recorded a storekeeper and five other persons at Broadbeach in 1949. In 1954 the Lennons Hotel Group acquired a former sand-mine site, apparently with the expectation that they could replicate Jim Cavill's success story at Surfers Paradise. The five-storey Lennons Broadbeach Hotel was opened in 1956, adjoining Charles Avenue. The Gold Coast's tallest building, the hotel was pitched as an oasis in the desert, sited as it was in the arid setting of an exhausted sand-mine.
Sand mining demonstrated the malleability of the Broadbeach dunes and in 1956 the Savoy Corporation created the Florida Gardens estate on former dairying country near the mouth of the Little Tallebudgera Creek. Although not a canal estate, Florida Gardens was inspired by canal developments seen by Alfred Grant in Florida, USA. Miami Keys, south of Florida Gardens, was the Gold Coast's first canal development. Each of these residential projects was in Albert Shire, and later formed part of Broadbeach Waters.
Apart from Lennons Hotel, Broadbeach remained relatively undeveloped until the 1970s. By then Surfers Paradise and surrounding areas were ready for a regional drive-in shopping centre and a site at the extreme south-east of Broadbeach Waters was chosen for the Pacific Fair shopping centre, opened in 1977 with a gross lettable area of over 90,000 sq metres. The choice of site reflected the shortage of large areas in Surfers Paradise. Some years later Broadbeach's limited supply of open space was again in demand, when land was required for casino development; the Broadbeach caravan park was acquired by Jennings Industries for the Jupiters Hotel and Hilton Hotel complex (1985).
Never a financial success, Lennon's Hotel was demolished in 1987 and replaced by the Oasis shopping centre, completed in 1989.
Broadbeach today is substantially a continuation of Surfers Paradise. In 2001 it was estimated that 42% of its census count was visitors and tourists at the many resorts and apartments around the Oasis shopping centre. Residents can shop at the Oasis and Pacific Fair centres, while other facilities include a primary school (1960), bowling club and two surf life-saving clubs. As well as the beach, visitors have the choice of reserves next to the Pacific Highway and the foreshore for picnics. There are also large reserves in the north of Broadbeach, Cascades Water Gardens beside Little Tallebudgera Creek, a group of playing fields next to Broadbeach life-saving club, and open space around the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition centre.
Broadbeach's census populations have been:
Alexander McRobbie, The fabulous Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise, Pan News, 1984
Alexander McRobbie, The real Surfers Paradise!: from seaside village to international resort, Brisbane, Pan News, 1988
John Vader, The Gold Coast book: an illustrated history, Milton, Jacaranda Press, 1980