History of the
At present Gladstone, Queensland represents a booming industrial town which asserts economic growth and
development. This was not always the case for Gladstone, which began as an isolated port on a tropical coast, far
from the bustling city of Brisbane. In the past thirty years, Gladstone has produced a successful hub of ports
The Gladstone region was stumbled upon by Captain Cook in 1770 who founded and named Bustard
Head to the south. In 1802, Matthew Flinders explored the harbour and was followed by John Oxley in 1823. The
Gladstone region was home of several Aboriginal tribes, Indigenous Australians prior to the European settlement.
Australia has an influential Indigenous heritage and cultural history.
Gladstone’s first settlement was in 1847 and was renamed from Port Curtis to Gladstone after the British
Colonial Secretary of the time, William Ewart Gladstone. It started as a colony of about 200 convicts who resided
in the region for a year or so. Free settlers didn’t arrive until 1854, and within two years the population had
grown to 200 people.
In 1885, Gladstone’s first wharf was built at Auckland Point and became a stop off point on the Brisbane rail
system in 1897. The population growth by 1960 was 7200, and the economy depended on the weight of the port serving
the local cattle industry. In 1961, coal began to be exported which boosted the local economy. Ten years on, the
population was doubled and the port was dealing 10 million tonnes per year. A major power station was established
during 1970-1990 as well as a coal facility and the Boyne Aluminum Smelter. Gladstone is now known as the ‘Port
City to the World’ with a global presence in major industries.
If you are interested in discovering more about Gladstone Harbour’s history and development, visit the Gladstone
Maritime Museum which is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 10.00am- 4.00pm. The Museum was created in
1989 to preserve Gladstone regions’ maritime history and make collections available for viewing by residents and
visitors. It also aims to be an educational facility for school children who are learning about the local history.
Collections include naval items and recreational boating and focus on exploration, settlement and port development
in recent decades. There is a small fee for adults AUD6 and children AUD3, with discounted prices for seniors and
The Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum is another source of information on the local culture and history.
It was established in 1985 and is dedicated to art and heritage promotion for Gladstone communities with a focal
theme of ‘waves of settlement.’ It is located at the old Gladstone Town Hall, which can be reached by the glass
bridge walkway that has been built to hold the marble statue of William Ewart Gladstone (mentioned above). The
Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum is open on Mondays- Saturdays from 10.00am to 5.00pm.
Gladstone, Qld has an interesting history from early port development to the current
global foundation of Gladstone Harbour and Marina. This industrial town has a lot to offer the tourist or those
considering moving to the region.