Revealed: Goldie's boldest tourist attraction plans


THE Gold Coast is a city which is constantly looking out for new tourist attractions.

It's no surprise given that tourism is our biggest industry and was worth more than $6 billion before the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Destination Gold Coast chief executive Patricia O'Callaghan and Mayor Tom Tate both say the city needs new attractions if it is to thrive post-COVID.

While many theme parks and novelties have been built in the past 60 years, there are plenty more which were proposed but never eventuated.

Here are four of the most memorable concepts which never eventuated:


A proposed
A proposed "geyser" off Surfers Paradise beach proposed by Bill Ross in 2012.

Proposed in February 2012 by Gold Coast teacher Bill Ross, it was to be the world's largest offshore water jet.

It was expected to be built 300m off Surfers Paradise and would shoot water more than 150m into the air.

It was conceived as a clock of sorts which would grow in size for short periods every 15 minutes, reaching its maximum height on the hour every daylight hour.

It was expected to cost $15 million and had the backing of then-mayor Ron Clarke.

However the Gold Coast City Council 2014 ultimately chose to not investigate the project any further.


Artist impression of a Polynesian theme park proposed for Southport on the Gold Coast in February 1986.
Artist impression of a Polynesian theme park proposed for Southport on the Gold Coast in February 1986.

Dreamworld bosses hoped to capture lightning in a bottle twice less than five years after the theme park opened.

Plans were unveiled in February 1986 for a $12 million Polynesian-style entertainment and commercial development earmarked for a 1.6ha site on the Nerang River off Southport's Brighton Parade.

The two-storey complex was house two licensed restaurants, bars, a nightclub, specialty shops, offices, marina, and manager's residence.

It was to have a South Sea island theme, with a wide boardwalk and marina on to the river.

But the Gold Coast city Council was flooded with objections from locals who insisted that any kind of tourism infrastructure would have damaged the residential character of Southport.

The project ultimately failed to gain the support of either the State Government or council


Lloyd Bond with his proposed statue.
Lloyd Bond with his proposed statue.

The Big Clubbie of Wavebreak Island was proposed as the Gold Coast's next major tourist attraction in one of the more bizarre ideas the city has seen.

The $180 million, 109-metre colossus would include a recreation of Uluru, measuring 200m long, 140m wide and 55m tall.

On top would be a 54m high bronze surf lifesaver planned to revolve three times a day and act as a barometer by way of his lifesaver's cap and briefs.

Inside the lifesaver's reel was to be the Reel Restaurant, accessible by a central lift, chairlift and four separate walkways up the rock.

The rock structure was to be 15 storeys high and house a 6000-seat amphitheatre, a 500-roon hotel, a recreated rainforest with revolving barges over a coral reef floor and a casino or conference room with restraints, shops, museum and observatory.


Brian 'Shep' Shepherd. Picture: Paul Riley
Brian 'Shep' Shepherd. Picture: Paul Riley

Surfers Paradise Chamber of Commerce boss and perpetual mayoral candidate Brian Shepherd was never short of an idea.

But in the late 1980s he spun his tallest tale with a proposal which raised plenty of eyebrows.

He announced plans to build the world's tallest bikini girl statue.

Like the colossus of Rhodes, it was meant to stand across the Gold Coast Highway, with motorists to drive underneath it on their way into Surfers Paradise.

Understandably the Gold Coast City Council under then-mayor Lex Bell was not keen to proceed.



Originally published as Revealed: Coast's biggest and boldest tourist attraction plans