Greenmount and Coolangatta beaches from Kirra Hill

The following images show the historical evolution of Greenmount and Coolangatta beaches over the last 100 years.


1910s - The shallow lagoons that can be seen in this image have always been a periodic feature at Greenmount/Coolangatta, and were even shown on the earliest survey plans of the area in 1883-84. [From 'Tallebudgera to the Tweed' by Robert Longhurst, 1996].

501212

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


Believed to be 1910s - A crescent shaped bay can bee seen, with swimmers grouped together on a shallow sand bank 20 m or so from the shoreline.

Greenmount has been a popular swimming spot since the 1880s. The long history of surf lifesaving at Greenmount/Coolangatta began with the rescue reported below:

"four girls and a male...swam at Greenmount Beach on February 21, 1909, and found themselves in trouble. A group of local men interested in lifesaving had been doing drills during the morning and were preparing to go home for lunch when they saw the group of swimmers in trouble and mounted the first rescue." [From the Gold Coast Bulletin, 13 February, 2009]

501273

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1914 - Beach widths have always fluctuated naturally over time at Greenmount/Coolangatta, as can be seen by comparing this image with the one above.

The changing sheds that can be seen along the base of Greenmount Hill were built in the early 1910s to discourage immodest swimming practices.

Greenmount 1914 

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


Ca 1915 - More bathing boxes can be seen.

During the 1910s, Coolangatta grew as a town and became a popular camping spot. Sanitation facilities were not available at the time and private arrangements involved the dumping of rubbish on the beach about 2.5 km north of Kirra! [From 'Tallebudgera to the Tweed' by Robert Longhurst, 1996]

501214

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1920s - A crescent shaped bay can be seen inside Greenmount Hill, whilst at the Kirra Hill end, the beach is wide and the shoreline bows out.

A period of frequent severe storms occurred at the end of the 1920s, as detailed below:

On 2 April 1927, a severe tropical cyclone caused flash flooding and severe erosion at Coolangatta when it arrived during a period of king tides.

On 14 February 1928, gale force winds uprooted trees on Greenmount Hill and lifted a house off its stumps on Dixon Street.

On 28-29 February 1929, another tropical cyclone caused damage to Coolangatta's roads and buildings.

501215

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1930s - The beach was wide and the shoreline fairly regular.  It is likely that a period of fairly calm weather had occurred leading up to this time.

501216

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1934 - The entire length of the beach had been severely eroded as can be seen by the narrow beach width and the small waves breaking close to the dunes in the centre of the beach.

501238

Photo: Unknown photographer, LPMA archives


1936 - Greenmount/Coolangatta was wide. A lagoon stretched almost the whole length of the beach, entrapped by a very large shoal of sand that had migrated around the point at Greenmount.

Timber walls (not shown) were built at Coolangatta following severe erosion by a tropcial cyclone that occurred on 22 March 1936.

501242

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1939 - Greenmount/Coolangatta recovered from the March 1936 erosion over time and remained a popular holiday spot.

501243

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1940 - At the time of this image, the beach was very wide. People can be seen bathing in shallow water at the Kirra Hill end of the beach.

On 23 January 1947, a tropical cyclone caused severe beach erosion (not shown).

501244

Photo: Unknown photographer, LPMA archives (old postcard image)


Believed to be 1950s - The Greenmount end of the beach was fairly narrow but the Kirra Hill end of the beach was fairly wide.  Dune grasses were growing forward indicating that the beach had not suffered erosion in recent times.

During the 1950s, beach widths at Greenmount/Coolangatta fluctuated naturally  in response to erosive storms, calm periods of beach rebuilding and variations in natural longshore flow.

501270

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1955 - Surfing became popular at Greenmount/Coolangatta during the 1950s, a long old-fashioned surf board can be seen

501245

Photo: C.G. Simpson, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1958 - Some sort of beach event can be seen, possibly associated with the formation of the Coolangatta Surf Life Saving Club in 1958. 

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Coolangatta Beach 'had a bad reputation for sharks and a strong northerly sweep.' [Coolangatta Surf Life Saving Club website]

501247

Photo: Ray Sharpe, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1958 - The significant natural variation in beach shape at Greenmount/Coolangatta, even within a year, can be seen clearly by comparing this image with the previous 1958 image.

501246

Photo: Arthur Leebold, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1959 - The beach appeared wide at low tide, but the wet sand on the beach face indicates that the Kirra Hill end could have been fairly narrow at high tide.

501249

Photo: Ray Sharpe, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1959 - Waves can be seen breaking over offshore bars and shoals.

501250

Photo: Laurie Holmes, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1960 - The shoreline was fairly regular and there was plenty of sand along the length of the beach.

During the 1960s, beach widths at Greenmount/Coolangatta fluctuated naturally in response to erosive storms, calm periods of beach rebuilding and variations in natural longshore flow

501251

Photo: Unknown photographer, LPMA archives (old postcard image)


August 1961 - The migration of large sand shoals around Snapper Rocks headland into Rainbow Bay and then around Greenmount headland contributes to the formation of lagoons and significant changes in beach width along Greenmount/Coolangatta.

The buildup and migration of sand is irregular. There is no sign of shoal migration at Greenmount headland in this image, compared to the next image taken about a year later, where waves can be seen breaking on a shallow sand bar.

501262

Photo: William Prince, Courtesy of the Australian Heritage Library (DEWHA)


9 September 1962 - Construction of the Tweed River entrance training walls commenced around this time of this image. The training walls reduced the northward longshore flow of sand from NSW to the Gold Coast beaches.

However, it took some years for this disruption to the coastal sand supply to impact on beach conditions at Greenmount/Coolangatta. It was not until 1967 when the Gold Coast experienced several cyclones that sand supply problems became apparent.

501263

Photo: D Finlay, courtesy of the State Library of Queensland (image no. Lbp00195)


1963 - The irregular shoreline that can be seen is likely to have been associated with the northward migration of sand shoals arriving from around Greenmount Hill.

A year later, in1964, a major coastal engineering study of the Southern Gold Coast commenced, focussing on the issue of longshore sand supply and prolonged retreat of Southern Gold Coast beaches.

501255

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of the National Archives of Australia: A1200, L44341


1960s - A large sand shoal migrating around Greenmount Hill can be seen.  It is possible that this was the sand shoal that entrapped the lagoon shown in the images below.

501254

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1960s - At the time of this image, a large lagoon had formed at Greenmount, entrapped by a sand spit that was wide enough for people to sunbathe and picnic on.

501252

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1960s - The large lagoon can be seen again in this image.

501253

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


Believed to be 1960s - Greenmount/Coolangatta started to become narrower for longer periods of time due to the combination of ocean storms and the disruption to coastal sand supply from the extension of the Tweed River entrance training walls in 1962.

501273

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1967 - On 22 February 1967, Tropical Cyclone Barbara occurred. It knocked over trees, destroyed tents, ripped roofing iron from houses and caused major power cuts at Coolangatta.

Due to the extension of the Tweed River entrance training walls in 1962, there was insufficient sand for beaches to fully rebuild following storms. This contributed to loss of the beach and foreshore damage in subsequent storms.

In 1968, a rock seawall was built along the foreshore to combat storm erosion and protect Marine Parade, the surf club building and beach amenities from loss or damage.

501256

Photo: Unknown photographer, LPMA archives


Believed to be 1970s - The seawalls put in place in 1968 to combat severe beach erosion can be seen.

501271

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1972 - Greenmount/Coolangatta suffered some of the worst erosion that had ever been recorded for the area during cyclones in 1972 and 1974.

Coastal protection measures were put in place to combat further storm erosion.

501257

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


5 May 1972 - Erosion was a major problem at Greenmount/Coolangatta in the early 1970s.  in 1972, the Kirra Point 'Big Groyne' was built to help hold more sand on Coolangatta Beach.

In 1974-75, about 760,000 cubic metres of sand was pumped from the lower reach of the Tweed River to nourish Greenmount/Coolangatta and Kirra beaches.

501264

Photo: Unknown photographer, LPMA archive.


1980s - The Greenmount end of the beach was a crescent shaped bay at the time of this image, with waves breaking right up against the sea walls at the base of Greenmount Hill.

In 1980, Cyclone Ruth caused extensive foreshore erosion along the Gold Coast.

501259

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


1980s - A large lagoon was present inshore of Greenmount Hill. 

A few years later, in 1984, Cyclone Lance lifted the rooves off 250 houses on the Gold Coast and caused coastal erosion to Gold Coast beaches.

501258

Photo: Unknown photographer, courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


25 April 1995 - Greenmount/Coolangatta continued to suffer severe beach erosion up to 1995 due to the ongoing interruption of coastal sand supplies.

501265

Photo: TRESBP

14 May 1995 - In May/June 1995, about 240,000 cubic metres of sand was pumped onto Coolangatta beach using sand that was dredge from the Tweed River offshore bar. Sand was pumped from the dredge through a pipeline that was laid from an offshore hook-up running onshore and along the beach.

The laying out of pipework in preparation for pumping can be seen.

501266

Photo: TRESBP


7 January 1996 - Greenmount/Coolangatta about six months after beach nourishment.

Greenmount Beach January 1996 

Photo: TRESBP


23 January 1998 - The beach retained its crescent shape throughout the last 1990s into 2000.

 Greenmount January 1998

Photo: TRESBP


18 January 2000 - This image shows Greenmount/Coolangatta just over a year before the Tweed River Entrance Sand Bypassing System commenced operations.

 Greenmount Beach January 2000

Photo: TRESBP

Page last updated/reviewed: 25 Feb 2014