Benowa’s History

Benowa’s History

The suburb of Benowa is located 6km to the west of Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, in South East Queensland, bordered by the Nerang River and Carrara to the south, the suburb of Bundall to its East, Southport to its North, and Ashmore to its North/West.

Benowa’s Name

The name Benowa is thought to come from the Bundjalung word “Boonow”, which means “red bloodwood”. Red bloodwoods are native to the area and their distinctive red bark is said to have inspired the name.

Another possible meaning for Benowa is “silver water”. This was suggested by a local resident in the early 1900s, who noted that the area is home to many creeks and rivers that flow with clear, silvery water.

The true meaning of Benowa is still debated, but both interpretations are beautiful and evocative of the natural beauty of the area.

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Camp at Gladfield, Queensland. A Pencil drawing by Conrad Martens (1801–78) dated December 29th 1851

The Beauty of Benowa

A newspaper columnist (B.J.S) wrote in ‘The Brisbane Courier newspaper on Saturday, September 14, 1907’: “The pleasure seeker’s delight makes the gaze wonder why so few in the metropolis are acquainted with the beauty alone of Benowa. Without a doubt, the view can hold pride of place in the district.

Robert Muir, Benowa Pioneer

In 1866 Robert Muir, formally of Scotland, pioneered the first major land purchase of 1100 acres along the northern bank of the Nerang Creek (later to be renamed the Nerang River), which was to become Benowa.

The creek was known for its impenetrable scrub, however, a labour of men formed what would become “The Springwood group”, one of the many such groups of men and women, who would incessantly carve away at clearing the scrub, to form a future for this “Land of the Great White Queen.”

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Robert Muir, circa 1870s
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Cotton Regulated to Obscurity

Robert Muir initially grew cotton, which was processed at the local Bundall mill owned by the Manchester Cotton Company. However, by 1869, cotton was no longer the predominant crop in the area. In fact, it had become so obscure that it was being burned for fuel.

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Sketch of the Nerang River with the Manchester Cotton Company holdings, Robert Muir holdings and Morris Pardoe holdings, South Coast, Queensland, 1880-1889.

Manchester Cotton Company Estate for Sale

Published by the Darling Downs Gazette Wednesday 22 November 1882

Mr. R. Muir’s celebrated Sugar Plantation.  To say that the soil of these Farms is ‘rich’ is simply to use a ‘hackneyed’ term, which, to many persons, means nothing.  The word, as applied to the foregoing properties is inadequate to express the fertility of the land. It may seem like hyperbole to say there, is NOT IN THE WORLD RICHER SOIL, but nevertheless, it is the Auctioneer’s belief that there is not.

This is what the correspondent of the Brisbane Courier says about the property in his letter of the 9th instant: — ‘That paragon of farming properties, the Manchester Cotton Company’s Estate will be sold by John Cameron on the 4th of next month [December, 1882].

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Darling Downs Gazette Wednesday 22 Nov 1882

I’m here to make the selling process as easy and stress-free as possible. So you are searching for a local Real Estate Agent in Benowa, let’s start with a coffee and I’ll show you how I can help.

As Gold Coast real estate agents, together we can get your property SOLD for the Best possible Price.

Craig-Douglas Your Local Gold Coast Real Estate Agent 0418-189-963
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Success came with Sugar Cane

This region was once referred to as Sugaropolis, it is from here that Australia’s sugar industry was created.

Robert had experience with sugar cane while living in the West Indies, and would end up managing the nearby Bundall Sugar Plantation and Mill, ‘Mort, Holland and Co.’ formed in 1870 and owned by John Mort, Julius Holland, and William Miskin.

So changing his property over to sugar cane, with assistance from Kanakas (workers from various Pacific Islands) was a natural progression away from cotton.

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Bundall Sugar Mill 1872

1870 First Sugar Crushing

1870 was the first sugar cane crushing season for Robert; sugar works were contained on his property in a neat building with a [concrete] slab, consisting of a four-horse horizontal mill, an open pan battery, with direct fire, and curing boxes, where the sugar was drained in the ordinary way; separated in long triangular-shaped drainage boxes, perforated with small augur or gimlet holes (he was yet to make use of a superior centrifugal process).

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1872, Robert Muir’s sugar plantation and mill, Benowa, Queensland

Adelaide Post, Wednesday, 9 August 1871, Page 10

“The plant cost [Robert Muir] about £500, and turns out daily 15 cwt. of dry sugar, the quality of which has the reputation of being the best Queensland sugar that has gone into either the Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne markets. In Melbourne, a sample forwarded to William Muir was valued by several of the leading merchants at from £35 to £40 per ton.

At the Brisbane Agricultural Show in January last, it was acknowledged to be the best exhibited (but unfortunately it was not in time to compete for a prize), beating that boiled by improved steam processes and drained by centrifuges.  In the course of another year, Mr Muir intends to erect more extensive works to meet his increase in cultivation.”

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1887 catastrophic floods

On Sunday, 23 January 1887, catastrophic flooding would cause the end of Robert’s successful Benowa Plantation and in fact his very life, this came about through a tragic choice to journey to Brisbane in a horse-drawn buggy with flooding occurring.

Published by The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld.: 1866 – 1939), Saturday, 29 January 1887, Page 185:

Mr Robert Muir of Benowa, accompanied by his son, Peter, arrived shortly after 7 p.m. on Sunday, at a place about a mile south of Yatala, near the turn-off to Ageston.  Apparently misjudging the depth of the water he drove in; both he and his son drowned.

At this spot, the water at one time was over the telegraph post, but had fallen considerably when Mr Muir was drowned. Their bodies were recovered on Monday. They were buried in the cemetery the same night.

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The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 – 1939), Saturday 29 January 1887, Page 185

Division of the Property

By September 1887 Robert’s plantation was up for sale, selling to Charles Parbury of Sydney.  Charles had in mind division of the land into smaller 20 to 30-acre farms for use by sugar cane growers.

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Charles Parbury’s yacht Xarifa c1863, by Frederick Garling. From the collections of the State Library of New South Wales.

I know how stressful it can be to sell a property, but I’m here to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible. So you are searching for a local Real Estate Agent in Benowa, let’s chat over coffee and I’ll answer any questions you have.

As Gold Coast real estate agents, together we can get your property SOLD for the Best possible Price.

Craig-Douglas Your Local Gold Coast Real Estate Agent 0418-189-963
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Benowa State School Beginnings

Charles donated land for the establishment of the ‘Bundall Provisional School’, which was opened on 21st September 1885. In November 1900 the school would be renamed to Benowa Provisional School. Then in 1909 the school was relocated to the corner of Ashmore Road and Carrara Street, Benowa, and changed its name to Benowa State School.

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Pupils of Benowa State School, Queensland, 1929.

More Flooding

As time passed history would show that these smaller farms were not financially viable; farmers moved from sugar cane to grow alternative crops, such as potatoes, maize, lucerne and oats.  After a series of floods in the early 1890s, the new crops were also found to be unprofitable.

Nerang River Sugar Company Limited

In late 1895, a cooperative venture involving farmers from the South Coast region formed the ‘Nerang River Sugar Company Limited’; it would go on to be the first company registered under the new Sugar Works Guarantee Act of 1893.

With history on their side, the State Government urged farmers to not limit themselves to a single crop; instead, they were encouraged to diversify.

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Growth

By 1896 the mill site had expanded to cover 17 acres, the company invested heavily in new machinery, built a wharf on the Nerang River (in time it would be known as the Carrara Ferry), constructed new buildings, established a new mill, laid tramway lines connecting outlying cane fields as well as the local Government railway station in Molendinar.

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Benowa Plantation, Queensland, 1896
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Foreclosure and Renaming

By January 1905, the mill was facing foreclosure; this had the Queensland State Government decide to step in and take control.

In spite of experts advising that sugar production in the district was in a rapid decline, the Government decided to continue with support for the sugar cane industry.  The mill continued and would go on to be renamed ‘Nerang Creek Central Mill’.

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Cane cutting for the Nerang Central Sugar Mill in Benowa, Queensland

Benowa Village

In 1909 the mill was located on an elevated site at the centre of Benowa Village, overlooking a large lake that was surrounded by pockets of bamboo.  The village contained houses for the mill employees and their families, together with a post office that included a general store with an accommodation house.

Benowa Post Office and its Relocation

In 1915 a new Post Office was constructed, this would continue to function until it was relocated to 173 Ashmore Rd, Benowa where it was restored, and repurposed as the ‘Gold Coast Potters Association’ gallery.

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Heritage listed 1915 Benowa Post Office, now transformed into an Art Gallery and Gift Shop.

Nerang Creek Central Mill Closure

With the cane supply only averaging 7,000 tons per annum, the viability of the mill was no longer sustainable.  With this being the case, the State Government gave notice to local growers, that its intention was to close the Benowa mill after the 1918 harvest season.

I know that selling your property can be a daunting task. That’s why I’m here to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible. I’ll handle everything from marketing your property to negotiating the sale. All you have to do is sit back and relax. So you are searching for a local Real Estate Agent in Benowa, let’s chat over coffee and I’ll answer any questions you have.

As Gold Coast real estate agents, together we can get your property SOLD for the Best possible Price.

Craig-Douglas Your Local Gold Coast Real Estate Agent 0418-189-963
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Relocation to Rocky Point

In 1919 the ‘Nerang Creek Central Mill’ was finally closed, it was sold to Wilhelm Heinrich Heck (1871 to 1944, with the onset of World War 1 and 2, he would become known as William Henry) of Pimpama Island, owner of Rocky Point Expansion/Sugar Mill.

Wilhelm arranged deconstruction of the mill and its relocation to his own property, where it was reassembled; this would increase the Heck Group’s sugar cane crushing capacity, from 800 tons annually to 40,000 tons.

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Rocky Point Sugar Mill, 124 Mill Road, Woongoolba, Queensland, 4207.

950 acres go up for Sale

In 1922 the largest regional land sale of the time (950 acres) was arranged.  The land was divided into 23 agricultural and dairy farms, as well as a number of housing lots.  The farms were purchased by local families, such as: Gooding, Huth, Rosser, Skelton and Stanfield.

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Western view from the Rosser family property, Benowa, Queensland 1940-1949

Benowa and The Carrara Ferry

Early on, the Carrara Ferry formed a significant connection by linking Benowa, Carrara, Merrimac, Mudgeeraba, Nerang and Southport.  It came to be known as “The Carrara Road”, and some maps in the 1960s would detail Benowa Road as Carrara Road or Carrara Ferry Road.

The road from the Carrara Ferry south was still marked as Carrara Ferry Road in 1983 street maps and was changed to Carrara Road on 2013 maps.

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Carrara Ferry with a load of sugar cane on its way to the Nerang Central Mill, Benowa, Queensland, 1897
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The Formation of Rosser Park

In 1969 the patriarch of the Rosser family; John Rosser, donated over two hectares of land for use as a local park, this would be opened in 1975 and named Rosser Park.

Rosser Park would go on to be selected by Gold Coast City Council in late 1999, as the most suitable site for a proposed “Regional Botanic Gardens”.

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Rosser family, Benowa, Queensland 1940-1949

Gold Coast Regional Botanical Gardens

The development of a Master Plan was completed in 2002, and since 2003 more than 20,000 local Australian natives have been planted by Friends of the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens, with community support.

In 2004, Gene Rosser (daughter of John and Esse Rosser) was appointed as Patron for the gardens.

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Gold Coast Regional Botanical Gardens, 230 Ashmore Road, Benowa, Queensland, 4217.

Sensory and Horticultural Display Gardens

In 2006, Gold Coast City Council, Rotary International and Friends of the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens, established the Sensory and Horticultural Display Gardens around the lagoon.

The Gardens are now established on 31 hectares of public land, a short 10-minute drive from central Surfers Paradise.

Three Distinctive Regions in Benowa

Benowa encompasses three characteristic regions; Benowa, Benowa Hills and Benowa Waters.  With the suburbs’ population growth came new schools, such as St Kevin’s Primary School in 1979, Benowa High School in 1980, and the opening of Benowa Gardens Shopping Centre in 1992.

I know that selling your property can be stressful, but I’m here to make the process as enjoyable as possible. So you are searching for a local Real Estate Agent in Benowa, let’s start with a coffee and see how I can help.

As Gold Coast real estate agents, together we can get your property SOLD for the Best possible Price.

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Let’s chat over a coffee… Craig Douglas, Your Local Benowa Real Estate Agent: 0418 189 963
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Craig Douglas Gold Coast Real Estate Agent 0418 189 963
Craig Douglas 0418 189 963, Real Estate Agent at Canford Estate Agents, Your Local Independant Gold Coast Real Estate Agents.

I’d love to learn more about your property and how I can help you sell it for the best price. So you are searching for a local Real Estate Agent in Benowa., would you be free for a brief chat over coffee?

As Gold Coast real estate agents, together we can get your property SOLD for the Best possible Price.

Craig Douglas 0418 189 963
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This page was proudly created by Craig Douglas, your local independent Gold Coast real estate agent, working for Canford Estate Agents. Selling residential and commercial properties, from those that are awe-inspiring, through to a diamond-in-the-rough, otherwise known as a “renovator’s delight”.

I negotiate and sell on behalf of property owners who want to get the best possible price, with the least amount of hassle. Let’s talk about the process of selling your property over a coffee to get you started – 0418 189 963