Carrara and Merrimac, adjoining residential suburbs on the Gold Coast, are south-east of the Nerang River. Carrara adjoins the township of Nerang. Benowa Waters and Clear Island Waters (canal estates) are on the other (coastal) side of the Nerang River. It is thought that the name 'Carrara' derives from an Aboriginal word describing flat land. There was a Carrara pastoral run (1868-97).
Both suburbs have wetlands, which have been made into lakes rather than canals. The original wetlands were extensive, and through them ran the Gin House, Boobegan and Mudgeeraba Creeks. The whole area was acquired by Thomas Stephens in 1873, after his career which included a term as the Mayor of Brisbane (1862), a Queensland parliamentarian and the proprietor of a fellmongery on the Ekibin creek, Tarragindi. Stephens used the area for grazing, and improved the pasture areas by building drains. His wife reputedly named the locality Merrimac. When the Stephens family's area was subdivided for farming in the early twentieth century it was used for dairying and banana growing.
The name Carrara appears to have prevailed over Merrimac in early directories, but dairying was centred around a milk storage and distribution centre at Merrimac. The Merrimac primary school was opened in 1917. Queensland Archives record a Carrara primary school, c1902-26.
Residential development began in the early 1980s in the north of Carrara, with a small golf course (since enlarged as the Emerald Lakes golf club), playing fields between the Nerang-Broadbeach Road and the river, and an airstrip with a motor racing circuit. Emmanuel College (1985) was next door. The airstrip has been replaced by the Emerald Lakes residential development with a proposed 1400 or more dwellings.
Until the 2000s Merrimac was less intensively developed, with rural/residential subdivisions, horse paddocks and plant nurseries. Both suburbs have golf courses on flood-prone or river catchment areas. Between them, the two suburbs have four golf courses and another, Paradise Springs, adjoins Merrimac's border with Robina. Palm Meadows Resort golf course is very extensive, enclosing several lakes.
In Carrara, the playing fields have been augmented with an indoor sports centre, an outdoor stadium and a polocrosse field; across the Nerang-Broadbeach road is the Gold Coast entertainment centre. Recreation is well catered for, but shopping is limited. Residents travel to Nerang, Robina Town Centre or Pacific Fair in Broadbeach Waters. Curiously, Merrimac State high school (1979) is in Mermaid Waters, near Pacific Fair. The suburbs are well off for private schools: Emmanuel College (Carrara) and St Michael's Catholic Colleges (1985), All Saints Anglican P-12 college (1987) and King Solomon Jewish primary school (Merrimac). They are less well off for railway stations and full-range shopping centres, those facilities being beyond their borders or, in the case of Carrara Markets, just inside.
Roughly 60% of dwellings are detached houses, 30% are townhouses and almost 5% are units (mostly next to Nerang River, Carrara).
The census populations of Carrara-Merrimac have been:
The census boundary between Carrara and Merrimac was Goodings Road, not the irregular postcode boundary.