Being a port city, Gladstone's local commerce is primarily industrial-based and include large-scale industrial plants include alumina refineries, aluminium smelting, heavy chemicals and shale oil. Due to its close proximity to the Southern Great Barrier Reef and the Capricorn Bunker group of Islands, Gladstone has also become a popular destination for holiday makers and sea changers alike.
Gladstone is the grain port for Central Queensland and globally exports wheat, sorghum, maize and oil seeds from Biloela and Emerald areas to India, Iran, Japan, New Guinea, South Africa and South Yemen.
Where is it?: Queensland: Capricorn Coast. Gladstone is 532 km north of Brisbane and and 100km south-east of Rockhampton, via Bruce Highway.
Auckland Hill Lookout, at the end of Auckland Street, has panoramic views over the mouth of the Colliope River, the port area and Curtis Channel. Location: Bishops Drive, Gladstone.
The Gladstone Marina is the centre of the city s recreational foreshore development. Commissioned and developed in 1987, the Marina complex is the departure point for Heron Island and outer reef islands. The Gladstone Marina provides visitors and residents with greater access to the waterfront through the provision of world-class recreational waterfront facilities.
Gladstone is a major stop on the North Coast railway line, with many long-distance passenger trains operated by QR TravelTrain stopping in the area. Freight trains also pass through the region. Gladstone is serviced by the Gladstone Airport with daily flights to the state's capital city Brisbane and other locations around the state. A train station is serviced by the famous QR Tilt Train and other state trains.
In the past few years the city has experienced major growth booms with industries setting up and expanding, new services have been provided to cope but are not doing quite well. The city centre is being re-developed (and currently open) to attract visitors back to the city instead of outer suburban malls.
The Gladstone Art gallery and Museum is housed in a beautiful old building that was originally the Town hall and features beautiful silky oak timber work in the foyer and classical moldings on the outside. The museum display changes often and is always good to check out even on a quick visit. The collection is interesting and varied. The staff, volunteers, and the GRC are all to be commended for their efforts in keeping culture alive in Gladstone. 136-144 Goondoon St, Gladstone. Ph (07) 4976 6766
The Tondoon Botanic Gardens in a beautiful Botanic Garden that is different to other Botanic Gardens because it relies on many native plants to produce an quiet, relaxing and cool atmosphere. The presence of a creek and lagoon filled with fish and tortoises is a bonus. The cafe where visitors can grab a delicious meal or just an ice cream or coffee is always popular. There are also some barbeques available for public use. Remember to bring your insect repellent as mosquitoes can be very abundant. This garden is well worth a visit and a perfect place for just a walk, a picnic or a barbeque. You will be surprised.
HMAS GladstonePerched above the water in her permanent dock at East Shores, ex-Royal Australian Navy Patrol Boat HMAS Gladstone comes alive with stories of how the sailors lived and worked on the ship. This museum ship from the Fremantle Class Patrol Boats has a fascinating history. Come and meet Oscar! Required - Shoes with a heel strap as a minimum - no thongs. Open each Saturday and Sunday from 10.00am until 4.00pm. Location: Gladstone Maritime Museum, 1 Francis Ward Drive, Auckland Point, Gladstone. Ph (07) 4972 0810
Lake Awoonga (25km south) draws many visitors, with free barbecues, swimming, landscaped walking trails, as well as a cafe and caravan park. The lake has been stocked with several fish species since 1996, and over 2 million barramundi have been released, with the largest caught at the end of 2005 weighing in at a hefty 30.3kg. Lake Awoonga is the primary source of Gladstone's water supply.
Capricorn Bunker groupGladstone is the set-off point for dive trips to the Capricorn Bunker group, snorkelling in deepwater coral lagoons, personalised reef fishing tours, or the simple pleasure of watching turtle hatchlings enter the water for the first time. Island destinations include Fitzroy Reef, Heron Island, Lady Musgrave Island, North West Island, Boyne Island and Wilson Island.
Heron IslandAt 800m long and only 300m wide, Heron Island is a coral cay at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, 72km from Gladstone, and the only isle in Australia which has two time zones. As one of only a few resort islands that shares its sand and sea with a nature research centre, staff have to be mindful of the loss or gain of an hour when they cross between the two. The eastern half of the island is protected and forms part of the Capricornia Cays National Park, with a permanent ranger's station onsite. Heron Island has been chosen as one of the best snorkelling sites in Australia by the Australian Geographic Magazine. The island has a holiday resort.
BenarabyWith its location at the southern entrance to Gladstone, you really cannot miss Benaraby. It is a small community and fairly well known to anglers, being the gateway to Lake Awoonga, which has a pile of Barramundi waiting to be caught. The Lake is one beautiful place which must not be overlooked.
But back to Benaraby. The town has fuel, food outlets, accommodation and general supplies for the traveller. There is also a small fresh Fruit and Vege Market located at the Benaraby Junction turn-off. Benaraby is also home to the popular and well-known Benaraby Raceway, where visitors can enjoy motorbike, drag and street racing.
CalliopeCalliope is a growing community, about 20 minutes drive west of Gladstone. With a relaxed rural atmosphere, Calliope is surrounded by farms and a beautiful hinterland landscape. The area boasts a national park of rainforests and native bush, horse riding trails, bush camps, historical homesteads and lookouts with spectacular views over the entire Port Curtis area.
With a population of over 4,000 the town of Calliope has country pubs, an 18-hole Country Club with a challenging golf course, and the newly constructed Calliope Central Shopping Village. Just north along the highway is the Calliope River Historical Village, taking you back many years to capture some of the early history of the Port Curtis area.
Fishing enthusiasts are well catered for with boat ramps provided at Boyne Island, Tannum Sands, Calliope River and Lake Awoonga. Choice mud crabs and fish such as bream, salmon, whiting, cod and flathead can be caught from the Boyne and Calliope Rivers and the many estuaries running from these rivers. Lake Awoonga is a prime location for catching barramundi, with the bonus of being able to fish for these well-known angler prizes all year round.
Calliope River Historical VillageCalliope is a vibrant rural community, about 20 minutes drive west of Gladstone near the cross-roads of the Bruce Highway and the Dawson Highway. Just north along the highway is the Calliope River Historical Village, which captures some of the early history of the Port Curtis area.
At the age of 30, Portugese navigator Pedro Fernandez De Quiros (born 1565) had sailed as chief pilot with Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana, in order to colonize the Solomon Islands, which Mendana had previously discovered. By 1600 he had come to believe that he was divinely chosen as the one to bring the inhabitants of the southern land into the 'true fold' of the Holy Catholic church. Three years later De Quiros obtained royal approval to search for the southern land and set sail for Callao, Peru on 21st December 1605 in the service of the King of Spain. De Quiros sailed west until he reached a fertile island in May 1606 that he named Austrialia del Espiritu Santo.
Until recent times the opinion generally prevailed that the Island of Santo - the chief island of the New Hebrides - was the Great Land discovered by De Quiros, and that Espiritu Santo's Big Bay was where De Quiros set up camp. A map drawn by cartographer Don Diego de Prado of 'The Great Bay of St Philip and St James in Espiritu Santo', published in 1608, is a reasonably accurate representation of Big Bay, however most descriptions of the locality found in many narratives of the expedition are inconsistent with the Island of Santo and its Big Bay. On the other hand these descriptions are found to support the claim of Port Curtis, Gladstone and the adjoining Queensland coast, being where De Quiros landed and claimed it for the King of Spain.