Black Jack heading for the finish line in the 2017 Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race.
Black Jack heading for the finish line in the 2017 Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race. Mike Richards GLA150417BLACKJACK

We're committed to Gladstone ... and to you

WE ALL love a birthday celebration, and Gladstone has two major ones this year.

It's the 70th anniversary of the iconic Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race, and it happens in the year of the 150th birthday of your local paper, The Observer.

It's fitting the milestones come up in the same year, as the paper is intricately tied to the success of the yacht race.

We're for Gladstone, and the Harbour Festival is as Gladstone as it gets.

It was on April 10, 1966, when the southern hemisphere's deepest natural harbour was celebrated for the very first time with a festival of its own.

Organisers of the Gladstone Harbour Festival took their inspiration from the relatively young Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race.


It was The Observer that was instrumental in agitating for the event that's continued to grow alongside Australia's second biggest ocean yacht race.

This paper began calling for an event like the Harbour Festival in 1962.

"Gladstone, which has more to offer than any other town, has been slow to capitalise on its potential," the March 10 editorial read.

"Why not a Harbour Festival? What a wonderful festival it could be."

The Harbour Festival, held every Easter, is still the highlight on the social calendar.

The Gladstone Harbour Festival.
The Gladstone Harbour Festival. Mike Richards GLA120417FEST

The first festival coincided with the influx of 1800 new men and their families who had arrived in Gladstone to construct what would become the world's largest aluminium refinery.

Through boom and bust, through celebration, disaster, tragedy and back again, The Observer has covered it all - from the devastating floods of 1911, the deadly polio epidemic of 1932, the great cyclone of 1949 and the royal fever that hit the town in 1951 when it was announced that King George and Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret would visit Gladstone.

The Observer reported all the details, including the collective disappointment when the king died, just two months before the highly anticipated visit.

The 1960s were undoubtedly the decade that changed Gladstone forever and set the future direction.

We're for change for good, and we covered it every step of the way.

When the first shipment of alumina left Gladstone Harbour for America's west coast in 1967, a new era had begun, but it didn't end with QAL.

Gladstone power station was the next major construction project.

Then in 1974, Mayor Swenson stoked public desires for a new industry and began lobbying for an aluminium smelter.

We joined the clamour. We're for ourcity's advancement.

The boom and bust economy of recent decades has brought phenomenal wealth to the blue-collar population but it also brought the challenges the city still struggles with today.

The Observer's editor Christine McKee.
The Observer's editor Christine McKee. Mike Richards GLA250817CMCE

In July 1981, The Observer reported on a mass meeting of more than 3500 workers at the showgrounds demanding more from the industries they worked for.

The struggle to deal with the industrials had come to a dramatic head.

The meeting voted to ban any future major projects in the city unless the State Government funded adequate infrastructure and addressed problems with lack of health services, housing, roads, schools and public transport.

"Their action is believed to be unprecedented in the construction industry and is bound to have nationwide ramifications for Australia's resources boom," The Observer reported at the time.

During the 1990s, the city finally received two long-awaited visits from royalty, the first from the Duchess of Kent in 1992 and then from Prince Charles in 1994.

As history continued to unfold, Gladstone continued to grow until an announcement in 2007 would almost dwarf the booms of past years.

Curtis Island in Gladstone Harbour was chosen as the site for the first of three liquified natural gas projects.

It consumed acres of newsprint.

It sparked the biggest influx of workers in history and now, in 2018 as the plants settle from the construction boom into production and export, the city is once again looking to reidentify itself with a more long-term and stable economy, less reliant on major industrial construction.

The Observer continues to cover the stories and record history.

But we're also for the future.

Over the next couple of weeks, we'll take a closer look at some of the people and events that have shaped the region that 60,000 people now call home.

Of course, you'll read about that on your laptop, tablet or phone. We're 24/7 now.

We're on social media, we have a drone to record from the skies the events that unfold underneath, and video plays as big a part as words these days.

You'll see us on the waterfront, the sports fields, our schools and our hospital. We're for the people.

Watch out for us at Tannum, at 1770 and at Calliope.

We're for the lifestyle we're so lucky to have in this piece of Queensland paradise.

We're for the Business Awards, the sports successes, the acts of Gladstone bravery and kindness.

Boyne Smelter GM is on the move

premium_icon Boyne Smelter GM is on the move

Rio Tinto creates new role for smelter GM.

Skies expected to clear for a good start to school holidays

premium_icon Skies expected to clear for a good start to school holidays

The coastal areas will see some possible showers today and tomorrow

Endeavour to berth into Gladstone harbour next week

premium_icon Endeavour to berth into Gladstone harbour next week

The crew will host a free open public day on July 7 from 10am-1pm