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History of Gladstone

Most people assume that like most of the east coast of Australia, Captain James Cook was the first European to explore Gladstone. In fact he sailed past Gladstone during the night and did not discover Gladstone’s sheltered deep water harbour of Port Curtis.

It wasn’t until 1802 that Matthew Flinders, as part of his epic circumnavigation of Australia, first explored the Gladstone area. He named Port Curtis and Curtis Island, which forms the northern each of the harbour, after his boss in South Africa Admiral Sir Roger Curtis. To make sure that he was really in the good books of his boss, he also name the entry to Port Curtis, Gatcombe Head, after Sir Roger’s ancestral home in England.

John Oxley, who was looking for a location for a new convict settlement, was next to further explore the Gladstone area in 1823. Like some people since, he took an instant dislike to Gladstone. He thought the gum trees were too small to build ships and the area was too dry. The good thing about this was that Gladstone did not become a convict colony.

Regardless of John Oxley’s opinion, from 1847 settlers began to arrive in Gladstone looking for grazing land and later gold. From 1853 Gladstone become a permanent settlement and for a time Gladstone was gazetted as the capital of Northern Australia.

In 1893 a meat works was built to support the local grazing industry and a fishing industry also became established in Port Curtis.

When the meat works was scheduled for closure in the 1950s the town fathers lobbied the Queensland Government for a planned alumina refinery to be built in Gladstone rather than in Brisbane. Their success not only provided Gladstone with secure employment from the 1960s onwards, it was also the catalyst for the subsequent industrialisation of Gladstone.

For more information you can read this Wikipedia article.

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