Currumbin, a residential suburb on the Gold Coast, is 85 km south-east of central Brisbane. It adjoins the south side of the Currumbin Creek which was identified by the surveyor Robert Dixon in 1840 who named it Anson Creek. The re-naming as Currumbin Creek was probably at the behest of the New South Wales Surveyor-General, Thomas Mitchell, who had a preference for Aboriginal names: it is thought that the name is possibly a reference to the kangaroo.
The railway from Nerang to Tweed Heads (1903) had a station on the south bank of Currumbin Creek, about a kilometre in from the beach. Small settlements developed at Currumbin Beach, near the station and at Currumbin Creek, about 8 km upstream. The railway brought excursionists and holiday-makers, offering them the choice of the surf beach, beach and creek fishing, oystering and boating. The double-storied Hotel Nicholl overlooked the creek and had an unobstructed view of the ocean. Furnished cottages and a store (c1917) were additional facilities. Upstream there were banana growing, citrus, dairying and timber-getting.
By the late 1930s there were also two guest houses (one each at Currumbin and Currumbin Beach), a Presbyterian church and half a dozen stores. Banana growing had replaced most other farming at Currumbin Creek. A road bridge over the creek (1927) stimulated increased motor traffic, and by 1948 Currumbin also had a service station. The creek's shallows provided safe bathing for families, one of the coast's few such facilities for children. Another point of appeal for children was the bird sanctuary: a commercial flower grower and apiarist near Flat Rock Creek (south of the Currumbin Creek) found that his crops were being damaged by Lorikeets, and tried honey-soaked bread to lure them away. It simply brought more birds, and in the late 1940s he turned the site into a bird sanctuary for tourists. It became the Gold Coast's best known attraction.
Wave action was removing beach sand and in 1948 rock walling was built at Currumbin Point, the south bank of the creek's mouth. Erosion was arrested, the sand partly engulfing the lower part of Elephant Rock. The Vikings surf life-saving club (1919) built its club house on the sheltered northern side of the rock. Currumbin Hill Conservation Park occupied a large part of the elevated slope west of the Gold Coast Highway, and the rest of the slope hosts steep house allotments.
In common with most Gold Coast waterways Currumbin Creek was used to build a canal estate. The estate, together with another residential area extending to the NSW border, is known as Currumbin Waters (see separate entry). Its population is about four times that of Currumbin. The State primary school (1909) is at Currumbin, and residents travel across the creek to find the Palm Beach-Currumbin high school and the drive-in shopping centre.
Currumbin is popular with beachgoers but is not a major resort town: in 2001 under 9% of the census count was estimated to be tourists and visitors.
Census populations have been:
Anne Noren, From the valley to the alley, Currumbin, Gecko, The Gold Coast and Hinterland Environment Council, c2001