Palm Beach, a coastal suburb with a large population of retirees, is immediately north of Currumbin Creek, Gold Coast, and 85 km south of central Brisbane.
The area was occupied for farming and grazing in the 1870s, but settlement was concentrated around better inland agricultural areas and at Southport. The South Coast railway was opened in 1889, but it was not until 1922 that a stopping place was installed at Palm Beach, at that time known as Elanora. The stopping place was where Palm Beach Avenue and the Pacific Highway presently intersect. At about the same time the local landowner sold most of Elanora to a developer, the Palm Beach Company Ltd, Brisbane, and subdivided allotments in partly cleared heath land and bush were put up for sale. The subdivision (1923) was known as Palm Beach.
The nearest settlement was Currumbin, with a hotel and stores, just over the Currumbin Creek about two kilometres south. Currumbin and Tallebudgera Creeks were bridged for road traffic in 1926. When the Elanora post office was opened at Palm Beach in 1927 there were a store, the Palm Beach Hotel (1926), 50 houses (30 permanently occupied), and a boarding house in the course of construction. Because of the possibility of confusion with Palm Beach, New South Wales, the Post Office kept the name Elanora until 1961. Nearly everything else, however, was known as Palm Beach, including the surf life-saving club (1930) and the hotel. The railway station also kept the old name until the line was closed in 1964.
Palm Beach had a census population of under 1500 people in 1961, but within 20 years it was fully enclosed by the development of the Gold Coast. The northern part, known in the 1960s as Pacific Beach, had a low-lying inlet running from the Tallebudgera Creek, which by the middle of that decade had been formed into lakes Awonga and Waidup, preparatory to creating a canal estate. Palm Beach State primary was opened nearby in 1974. Anson Shallows, on the north side of the mouth of the Currumbin Creek were in the course of land reclamation where the recreation reserve would be extended and the Gold Coast Highway rerouted to cross the creek mouth. The Palm Beach-Currumbin high school (1972) was later built there.
There is considerable joint Palm Beach-Currumbin activity, with three combined sports clubs located at the Palm Beach reserve. In addition to the Palm Beach surf life-saving club there are also the Pacific and the Tallebudgera (1946) life-saving clubs. The last-mentioned is near Palm Beach's northern boundary, the mouth of Tallebudgera Creek, where there are also the Tallebudgera recreation camp, the womens' Neptune Royal Life Saving Club (1930) and a tourist park.
The median age of Palm Beach residents was 43 years, with 24% over 65 years, in 2001. With a median weekly income per person of $307, 17.6% below the median for the Gold Coast, the demographic profile is slanted towards retirees. In recent years the clean beach and open views have attracted younger, high-salaried people who renovate or rebuild. About one-third of the housing stock is units, nearly half detached houses and the rest town houses or other types of dwellings. Holiday visitors constituted a relatively minor proportion (9.5%) of the census count in 2001. There are local shops in Palm Beach Avenue and Gold Coast Highway, and drive-in centres at The Pines in neighbouring Elanora and at Burleigh Heads across the Tallebudgera Creek.
Palm Beach's census populations have been:
Jim Lightfoot, Palm Beach, Brisbane, Australia Post, 1978