Uncovering the City behind the Masks: The Gold Coast Identity Crisis
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The city of Gold Coast, Australia is larger than the state capital of Tasmania as well as the Australian Capital Territory with a population of half a million people. Yet, it has not been taken seriously as a city and is usually overlooked in urban research that mostly focuses on the capital cities. While viewed solely as a resort town and the playground of the country by outsiders, its residents view the city in an entirely different way. Gold Coast has been described as 'a sunny place for shady people', 'the most heterogeneous region in Australia' and a city experiencing 'adolescence'. This paper argues that theme parks, fancy resorts, gold lam頢ikinis and skyscrapers tell only part of the story of the Gold Coast's identity. In fact, behind this glittering mask, there is a multiplicity of faces and the city is in a state of identity crisis. The continued fast pace of growth the city has experienced transformed it from a series of small coastal resort towns into a mature city of its own right and Australia's 6th largest urban centre. But in the minds of outsiders it remained the same resulting in tourists and residents perceiving different identities of the same city. The objective of this paper is to examine these many and varied faces that the Gold Coast presents to the world and the tension between these identities. This will be accomplished through a historical analysis of the Gold Coast.
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