Broadbeach Waters, a residential suburb on the Gold Coast, is immediately south-west of Surfers Paradise and west of Broadbeach. It consists almost entirely of canal estates and re-contoured land developments, including the first of that type of development, Florida Gardens.
Situated at the junction of the Nerang River and the Little Tallebudgera Creek, the site of Florida Gardens was in the former Albert Shire. The Council was willing to embrace the prospect of increased rates from a residential development amounting to 1000 allotments, and enthusiastically announced the Florida Gardens project in 1956. Funded by the Savoy Corporation under the direction of the Melbourne hotelier, Mick Ress, the project involved the pumping of about 225,000 cubic metres of sand on to the low lying land. The result was an island with a peripheral thoroughfare and several internal streets. Shortly afterwards work began on forming the first two genuine canal estates Rio Vista (35 ha) and Miami Keys (60 ha), guided by the Canals Act 1958 which had been drafted with technical guidance from the engineers of Albert Shire and Gold Coast town council and a hydrological engineer, Harold Davies. A minimum land height of 8.5 feet above the river level was fixed, insufficient as it turned out in the 1974 Nerang River flood.
During the late 1960s the Coral Gardens section of Miami Keys was built, a project with allotments averaging 800 sq metres instead of 550 in Florida Gardens and with larger houses and wider canals. In the next decade the prestigious Rialto, west of Rio Vista, was formed: an island with a peripheral thoroughfare, its interior is a parkland and lake. Cypress Gardens, west along the Nerang River, was completed in the early 1980s, again with larger blocks.
The Broadbeach caravan park, west of Little Tallebudgera Creek and Lennons Broadbeach Hotel, was chosen in 1982 as the site of the Gold Coast casino and resort hotel (Conrad International). Immediately south of the casino and Coral Gables, undeveloped land lay between the creek and a drain from the former Stephens Swamp dairy-grazing area (west of Miami). The site had been bought and sold by Stanley Korman in the 1950s. Twenty years later the Hooker Corporation built the Gold Coast's largest drive-in shopping centre, Pacific Fair, on Korman's land. With a department store (two, when Daimaru was later added), Pacific Fair was strategically located to impose a severe strain on retailing in Surfers Paradise.
Broadbeach Waters' canal-based design probably makes it impregnable to broad acre consolidation and redevelopment. Any changes will be bigger and more luxurious houses or units on the existing allotments. Rio Vista's somewhat modest real estate prices and properties showed distinct upward movement in the early 2000s. The age profile of Broadbeach Waters in 2001 tended to be elderly (median age 45 years compared with 38 for Gold Coast generally) and with correspondingly fewer families with children (44% compared with 58%).
The census populations of Broadbeach Waters have been: