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Nerang, Queensland, Australia History

Nerang: Tracking time through Queensland’s heartland

Nestled in the picturesque landscapes of Queensland’s Gold Coast region, the charming town of Nerang stands as a testament to the rich tapestry of history that has woven its way through the heartland of this Australian state. From its early Aboriginal inhabitants to its emergence as a vibrant centre of commerce and culture, Nerang’s history is a fascinating journey through time. In this article, we embark on a journey of discovery to uncover the layers of history that have shaped Nerang into the vibrant community it is today.

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1871, Mrs Veivers with family at Boowaggan Cottage, Nerang District, Queensland

Aboriginal roots and early settlement
Long before European settlers arrived, the land on which Nerang now stands was inhabited by the indigenous Yugambeh people. These traditional custodians thrived in harmony with nature, living off the land’s abundant resources. The Nerang River, a lifeline for transport and food, played a crucial role in the Yugambeh’s way of life.

European exploration
As European exploration gained momentum, the region attracted the attention of pioneers seeking new opportunities in the untamed Australian frontier. In the mid-19th century, Nerang saw its first waves of European settlers, attracted by the fertile land and the promise of a new beginning. The interaction between these early settlers and the Aboriginal people marked the beginning of a transformative era for Nerang.

1885, Paddle steamer SS Iris tied at Nerang Wharf on the Nerang River, Queensland

“The ‘Iris’ also sailed on the Logan River. The SS Iris was a small wooden paddle steamer used as a general purpose vessel and it was built in Brisbane in 1878.”

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The development of a settlement
The establishment of Nerang as a formal settlement can be traced back to the 1860s. The allure of the land’s natural beauty, combined with its proximity to the Nerang River, made it an attractive place for pioneers to rebuild their lives.

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1890, Plan of the Town of Nerang, Parish of Nerang, County of Ward, Beenleigh Land Agents District

The meaning of Nerang

Nerang was named after the Nerang River, which is thought to mean “small river” in the Yugambeh language or “shovel-nosed shark” in the Bundjalung language. The area was originally inhabited by the Kombumerri and Wanggeriburra clans of the Yugambeh people.

Martin Lavelle – Surveyor

The township was surveyed in June 1865 by Martin Lavelle. Lavelle named a street after himself and others after local pioneers. Nerang was initially centred around the river crossing and the head of navigation. Land was first sold in 1871, the same year Cobb & Co. started a daily coach service from Brisbane.

The opening of the Southern Cross and Royal Mail hotels was prompted by a thrice-weekly coach service from Cobb & Co. The population of Nerang was too small to be included in the 1871 census. Timber was the first industry to flourish in the area due to the abundance of red cedar (Toona ciliata).

Benjamin Cockerill – Nerang Hotel

The Nerang Hotel, built by Benjamin Cockerill, is often regarded as the cornerstone of the town’s development. With the first liquor licence granted in 1872, the Nerang Hotel not only provided hospitality to travellers but also marked a significant milestone in Nerang’s growth.

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1872, Benjamin Cockerill’s Nerang Hotel, Benowa, Queensland.

Benjamin Cockerill, known as the Father of Nerang, applied for the district’s first liquor license in April 1872. The licence was granted for his bush inn, the Nerang Hotel, built on Robert Muir’s land at Benowa. Cockerill applied for a new licence in February 1873 for a building on his land in Price Street, Nerang, named the Royal Mail Hotel.

In the years that followed the town saw the establishment of churches, schools and essential infrastructure that laid the foundations for a thriving community. The Royal Mail Hotel, another of Cockerill’s ventures in 1873, added to the cultural and social fabric of the town.

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1890, Cobb and Co coaches at Weedon’s Crossing Nerang, Queensland.

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Before the railway was built from Nerang to Tweed Heads in 1902, Cobb & Co. was the only public transport. The coaches stopped at Lane’s Hotel in Mudgeeraba and then changed horses at Tallebudgera. A few miles outside Mudgeeraba, a horn would sound to let the people at the stop-off point know it was time to start preparing a meal for the passengers. One of the drivers was Jim Jarvis. It is said that groom Joe Gooding was so proud of his teams and worked so hard on them that he could put a silk handkerchief over each horse and not mark them.

Agriculture and commerce
As Nerang developed, agriculture became an important economic mainstay. The fertile land surrounding the town was used to grow a variety of crops, including sugar cane, bananas and citrus fruits. The Nerang River served as a conduit for transporting produce to wider markets, facilitating the town’s integration into the regional economy.

The development of the South Coast Railway in the late 1800s greatly improved Nerang’s accessibility, boosting trade and connectivity. The railway linked Nerang to both Brisbane and the coastal region, further cementing its role as a major trading hub.

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1910, Smith’s gang of cane cutters with a stand of Malabar sugar cane, Nerang,

Changing landscapes and urban growth
The 20th century brought a period of urban growth and modernisation. Nerang’s transformation from a small settlement to a burgeoning town was marked by the development of infrastructure, including roads, bridges and public facilities. While maintaining its historic charm, Nerang embraced progress with a growing population and the emergence of new industries.

The development of Nerang’s urban landscape was complemented by the growth of cultural and recreational spaces. Parks, community centres and local events provided residents with opportunities for leisure and engagement, fostering a sense of community cohesion.

Nerang today: A vibrant heritage
On the threshold of the 21st century, Nerang is a town that bridges its rich history with its dynamic present. Its heritage is embodied in its historic landmarks, its diverse population and its role as a central hub in the Gold Coast region. The town’s ability to preserve its historic essence while embracing contemporary progress is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of its people.

Nerang’s history is a compelling narrative that weaves together the threads of Aboriginal heritage, European exploration and the development of a vibrant community. From its origins as a meeting place on the Nerang River to its current status as a cultural and commercial centre, Nerang’s journey through time reflects the broader Australian story. As we explore Nerang’s history, we honour the stories of those who have shaped its destiny and celebrate the vibrant spirit that continues to thrive within its boundaries.

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Bullock team in bushland with houses possibly in the eastern Nerang area (Lawrence Drive), Queensland.

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Let’s chat over a coffee… Craig Douglas, Your Local Nerang Real Estate Agent: 0418 189 963

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Craig Douglas 0418 189 963, Real Estate Agent at Canford Estate Agents, Your Local Independant Gold Coast Real Estate Agents.

I know how stressful it can be to sell a property, but I can take the stress out of the process and make it as smooth as possible. You looked for a Nerang Real Estate Agent Gold Coast, let’s chat over coffee and I’ll answer any questions you have.

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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”.

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