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 of our wharf centres
Shipping in Gladstone began at Auckland Point in the 1880s. Live horse exports were the main cargo first handled. 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 two million tonnes (Mt) of cargo annually. Gladstone’s exciting new cruise industry commenced in March 2016, berthing at Auckland Point.
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 was exported on 9 August 1967 aboard MV Sangoh Maru. The facility was officially opened on 9 March 1968.
The then Gladstone Port Authority became the owners and operators of the facility in November 1998 and set about diversifying the list of cargoes handled at the terminal.
Barney Point Terminal exported approximately 4.5Mt of coal annually until 20 May 2016, when the terminal exported its final coal vessel and subsequently ceased coal operations.
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.
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.
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 Ltd’s Alumina Refinery, now referred to as Rio Tinto Yarwun Alumina Refinery.
Today, Fisherman’s Landing handles bauxite, alumina, caustic soda, liquid ammonia, sulphuric acid and cement products.
Port of Bundaberg
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 could 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 GPC and continues to operate as a business unit of GPC trading under the business name Port of Bundaberg.
Port of Maryborough
On 1 March 2022, management of the Port of Maryborough (PoM) was transferred to GPC, bringing benefits through geographic proximity of GPC’s existing ports and aligning the port and maritime responsibilities with Maritime Safety Queensland. As a non-trading Port, GPC undertakes limited responsibilities associated with managing the PoM.
Port of Rockhampton
Port activities first commenced at the Port of Rockhampton, known then as Port Alma, in the early 1800s. Situated on the outskirts of Rockhampton, 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 commenced in 1883. The wharf had the ability to accommodate two ships, one on each side of the wharf. On 6 June 1911, 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 with 162 metres added to the length. 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, 2,000 people assembled at the port to celebrate the completion of a major redevelopment and expansion. This took 10 years to complete at a cost of $4 million. It embraced an entirely new wharf complex and was described as ‘the most important milestone in the history of the Port of Rockhampton.
RG Tanna Coal Terminal
Approval for the construction of Clinton Coal Facility — now RG Tanna Coal Terminal (RGTCT) — 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 the then Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen on 7 May 1980.
Clinton Coal Facility was later renamed the RG Tanna Coal Terminal in 1994 in recognition of the efforts of the port’s then General Manager Mr Reg Tanna (1933-2000).
In 1963, Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) announced plans to construct the largest alumina plant in the world at Gladstone. Comalco Ltd (the Australian member of the consortium) purchased a 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.
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. Now fully commissioned, the multi-billion-dollar industry-owned and privately funded terminal sees over 8Mt of coal exported.