Jim Cavill’s Surfers Paradise Hotel

surfers paradise hotel southport qld 1928

The Surfers Paradise Hotel, Qld, 1928. Picture: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.


surfers paradise hotel fire 1936 a

What was left of the Surfers Paradise Hotel after the 1936 fire.


surfers paradise hotel fire 1936 publican J Cavill

Mr. J. Cavill, the owner of the Surfers’ Paradise Hotel, looks through some of his zoo records which were salvaged from the fire.


Damage Estimated at £30,000


Brisbane, Monday: The well known Surfers Paradise Hotel near Southport was destroyed by fire early this morning. The hotel was destroyed, with the exception of a number of detached living cabins and a comprehensive private zoo. The damage is estimated at £30,000. The cries of terror-stricken bears, monkeys, leopards and birds were heard; over the roar of the fire. The fusing of electric wires is blamed for the fire.

– The Horsham Times Tuesday 7 July 1936. 

surfers paradise hotel fire 1936 b

The aftermath of the fire that destroyed the Surfers Paradise Hotel

The Surfers Paradise Hotel 1955. Picture: State Library of Queensland

James Freeman Cavill established the first Surfers Paradise Hotel at Elston in 1925. The hotel was located at the corner of what is today Cavill Avenue and Surfers Paradise Boulevard. The Queensland Times reported on May 16 1925:

This excellent estate, situated close to Southport, is absolutely the last piece of freehold Main Ocean Beach land on the South Coast of Queensland. Already the area is the scene of much building activity. One of the finest sea-side hotels, the Surfers’ Paradise, has just been completed, while many private residences have been built or are in course of construction. Undoubtedly the area bids fair to become the most important sea-side resort in the State.

In 1933 Cavill was one of many businessmen who lobbied successfully to have Elston’s name changed to the more glamorous Surfers Paradise.

In 1936 Cavill’s original building was destroyed by fire. He then had built a new brick hotel with an accommodation tower on the site, featuring sophisticated entertainment, which attracted visitors from interstate and overseas. In 1945 the main thoroughfare of Surfers Paradise, which passed the hotel, was named Cavill Avenue. The hotel continued operating until 1982 when it was demolished. The corner site where the original Surfers Paradise Hotel once stood is now home to Hard Rock Cafe and the Surfers Paradise Beergarden.

For more visit The Time Gents story: The mysterious Jim Cavill and the Surfers Paradise Hotel


Would you like to make a small donation towards the publication of The Time Gents website? If you would like to support my work, you can leave a $2 donation here with your credit card, or you can increase the amount after clicking or tapping into the icon below. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs and research.


YOU can also make a small donation towards the running of The Time Gents website through Paypal. If you would like to support my work, you can leave a small tip here of $2, or several small tips, just increase the amount as you like. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs.


Categories: Queensland hotels

Tags: , , ,

2 replies

  1. Great Article. Where can I find this ‘Horsham Times’ article archive (Tuesday 7 July 1936) to leanr more about the fire at the Surfers Paradise Hotel. And the zoo- how odd!

What's Your Thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: