Gladstone Ports Corporation (GPC) has a proud history of creating and facilitating prosperity for Queensland. Our formal history began in 1914 with the first meeting of the Gladstone Harbour Board. A series of history books were produced to celebrate the Port of Gladstone’s 100-year journey, with each book reflecting on a 20-year period of GPC’s stewardship of the port.
History Book 1 — The Dreaming to 1934
The first edition explores life prior to white settlement, from the early encounters between the first Australians and European settlers, through to the beginnings of Gladstone Ports Corporation, then known as the Gladstone Harbour Board.
History Book 2 — 1935 to 1954
This edition chronicles the first serious development of coal in Queensland in the Callide Valley. Thanks to intense lobbying by the port's Board of Directors, Gladstone experienced the first of what would become regular bursts of growth and became the port of choice for coal exports.
History Book 3 — 1955 to 1974
The third book documents the commencement of Queensland’s massive coal trade to Japan and the birth of Gladstone as a major industrial centre.
History Book 4 — 1975 to 1994
This edition reflects on the visionary economic infrastructure decisions that propelled the Port of Gladstone into a major world class port that facilitated and attracted large scale resource processing industry and a rapid expansion in coal exports.
History Book 5 — 1995 to 2014
The final instalment of the series focuses on the coal export boom, developmental milestones and how our community engagement activities have played an instrumental role in forming the sustainable port we have today.
History of our wharf centres
Port Alma Shipping Terminal
Port activities first commenced in Rockhampton in the early 1800s. The geographical position of the port enabled a railway to be built to the west through a gap in the Great Dividing Range. It was the gold strike at Canoona that facilitated the declaration on 8 October 1858, proclaiming Rockhampton as a port of entry with customs and harbour authorities.
The building of wharves and a shed at Port Alma commenced in 1883. The wharves were not connected to the land meaning a row boat was required to reach the shore, which resulted in very few ships berthing at the Port Alma wharf. The cost of building the first wharf was approximately £36,869. The wharf had the ability to accommodate two ships, one on each side of the wharf.
On 6 June 1911, after 27 years of isolation, the Port Alma to Bajool railway line was completed. The first railway engine entered the Port Alma Wharf exactly one year later on 6 June 1912 in the presence of the Governor, Sir William MacGregor and 300 guests. The original wharf had been widened by 4 metres and 162 metres added to the length.
In the first year of operation, 22,467 tonnes of cargo were carried on the Bajool-Port Alma railway. Grain, cattle, sheep, gold, copper, hides and tallow were just some of the cargoes handled by the port in its early years.
On Saturday 11 October 1969, 2000 people assembled at Port Alma to celebrate the completion of a massive redevelopment and expansion of the port. This took 10 years to complete at a cost of $4 million. It embraced an entire new wharf complex and was described as 'the most important milestone in the history of the Port of Rockhampton'.
In 2015, GPC sponsored Rockhampton Art Gallery's exhibition Rockhampton: The Forgotten Port City through the Community Investment Program. Today, Port Alma Shipping Terminal handles approximately 230,000 tonnes of cargo annually.
Shipping in Gladstone began at Auckland Point in the 1880s. Live horse exports were the main cargo first handled at the then timber Auckland Point Jetty. The trade was an important part of Gladstone’s economy for 50 years until freezing works and refrigerated shipping became common.
The facility has undergone numerous expansions and today consists of four wharves handling more than 2 million tonnes (Mt) of cargo annually. Gladstone’s exciting new cruise industry commenced in March 2016, berthing at Auckland Point.
In 1963, Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) announced plans to construct the largest alumina plant in the world at Gladstone. Comalco (the Australian member of the consortium) purchased a prized site at Parsons Point, which previously housed Swift’s Meatworks.
Phase one of the project involved the construction of a causeway and bridge connecting Parsons Point to South Trees Island. This was then followed by the construction of the 396-metre wharf and finally, the construction of the $114 million plant. The plant was officially opened on 3 August 1967.
Today, QAL’s two-berth South Trees Wharf handles more than 14Mt of cargo a year, including bauxite, alumina, caustic soda and bunker fuel oil.
Thiess Peabody Mitsui Coal Pty Ltd expressed interest in utilising port land at Barney Point to export Moura coal. The first shipment of 1,600 tonnes of Moura coal exported on 9 August 1967 aboard MV Sangoh Maru. The facility was officially opened on 9 March 1968.
Gladstone Ports Corporation, then Gladstone Port Authority, became owners and operators of the facility in November 1998, and set about diversifying the list of cargoes handled at the terminal.
Barney Point exported approximately 4.5Mt of coal annually until 20 May 2016, when the terminal exported its final coal vessel and subsequently ceased coal operations. It is envisaged that several products such as calcite and woodchip will be transferred from our Auckland Point Terminal to Barney Point.
Following Comalco Ltd’s decision to establish a two-potline aluminium smelter at Boyne Island, construction of the Boyne Wharf commenced in 1975-76. MV Borgnes was the first vessel to use the wharf, discharging 16,451 tonnes of petroleum coke for Boyne Smelters Limited (BSL) on 27 April 1982 and was officially opened by the then Premier of Queensland, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen on 20 August 1982.
Today, Boyne Wharf handles more than 650,000 tonnes of cargo annually for BSL.
RG Tanna Coal Terminal
Approval for the construction of Clinton Coal Facility — now RG Tanna Coal Terminal — was given in 1976-77 once BHP Co Ltd advised it had secured long term contracts for the sale of coking coal to Japanese steel mills. Construction began almost immediately with stage one reaching completion in 1980.
The first vessel to berth at the terminal was the MV Iron Capricorn which set sail on 24 April 1980 loaded with 26,196 tonnes of Gregory coal. Clinton Coal Facility was officially opened by BHP Chairman Sir James McNeill, in the presence of former Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, on 7 May 1980. In its first full year of operation in 1980-81, the terminal exported 4.3Mt of coal.
Clinton Coal Facility was later renamed the RG Tanna Coal Terminal (RGTCT) in 1994 in recognition of the efforts of the port’s then General Manager Mr Reg Tanna (1933-2000).
Today, RG Tanna Coal Terminal is the port’s major coal export terminal, with a current throughput capacity in excess of 60Mt annually.
Queensland Cement Ltd expressed interest in establishing a clinker plant at Fisherman’s Landing in the late 1970s. Construction of the single-berth wharf was then completed during 1980-81.
Reclamation work in the area continued and a second berth at Fisherman’s Landing was completed in the late 1990s. The third berth was completed in 2003 for Comalco’s Alumina Refinery, now referred to as Rio Tinto Yarwun Alumina Refinery.
Today, Fisherman's Landing handles over 14.5Mt of cargo each year, including bauxite, alumina, caustic soda, liquid ammonia, sulphuric acid and cement products.
The City of Bundaberg was established to serve as a vital link to the surrounding agricultural district when navigators proved the Burnett River offered the best commercial means of transport to and from the area.
The port was moved from the town reach of the Burnett River to the river mouth at Burnett Heads where the new port was built in 1958. The new port was able to handle the much larger bulk ships being introduced to the coastal and export trade.
Timber, maize and copper quickly gave way to sugar as the district's principal export. Bundaberg is home to the famous Bundaberg sugar and rum. On 1 October 2007, the Port of Bundaberg was transferred from the Bundaberg Port Authority to the Bundaberg Ports Corporation Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Port of Brisbane Corporation.
On 1 November 2009, the Port of Bundaberg was transferred to Gladstone Ports Corporation and operates as a business unit of GPC trading under the business name Port of Bundaberg.
Today, the Port of Bundaberg handles in excess of 500,000 tonnes of cargo annually.
The South Eastern end of Curtis Island is Gladstone's Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) precinct. Each plant, Australia Pacific LNG, Gladstone LNG and Queensland Curtis LNG, has one berth.
LNG exports commenced in December 2014. Current throughput is over 12Mt annually.
Wiggins Island Coal Terminal
The Wiggins Island Coal Terminal (WICT) is located at Golding Point, to the west of the existing RG Tanna Coal Terminal. Once fully commissioned, the multi-billion dollar industry-owned and privately funded terminal will see over 80Mt of coal exported, effectively doubling the capacity of the Port of Gladstone.
WICET currently handles 8Mt of coal a year.