Welcome to one of Australia’s best-kept secrets – a launch pad for visitors with a love of the water: boating, fishing, beaches, snorkelling, diving, island exploring and a whole lot more. The burgeoning economy of recent years, balancing tourism with the industry buzz of one of the nation’s largest natural deep water harbours, has put Gladstone firmly on the visitor map.
The fact the region boasts one of the biggest boat-owning communities in Australia with access to the waters and islands of the Southern Great Barrier Reef, as well as inland lakes teeming with fish, speaks volumes for Gladstone as a perfect base for recreation and adventure.
People love the Gladstone region for:
- Year-round boating, fishing and island exploring
- Four-wheel driving, hiking and camping
- Beachside adventure meets country hospitality
Gladstone is the gateway to delightful Heron Island, one of the gems of the Great Barrier Reef – a true coral cay and a haven for divers, snorkellers and nature lovers in general. The island resort, two hours from Gladstone by ferry, is popular year round. Much closer to ‘home’, island adventurers can enjoy Curtis, Facing and Quoin Islands – all linked by a short ferry trip from the city marina.
Boyne Island and Tannum Sands are key foreshore communities close to the city with plenty of opportunities for beach lovers to catch a wave, while further south, beautiful Agnes Water and nearby Seventeen Seventy offer even more adventures for beach goers and anglers. From Seventeen Seventy you can catch a ferry to dive, snorkel, walk or whale watch on Lady Musgrave Island.
Gladstone region is also tops for:
- The spectacular Expedition, Isla Gorge and Kroombit Tops National Parks
- Hinterland hospitality in Calliope and the Calliope River Historical village
- Scenic country drives through Banana Shire and the Callide Valley
Eat & Drink
With such an abundant harvest delivered straight off the local trawler fleet, seafood has to top the list. Look out for the Gladstone mud crab, which has earned a top reputation nationwide. Back it up with succulent prawns, sensational shellfish and – of course – first-class reef fish.
Meat lovers are well catered for, with some of the best steak in Australia from the beef-growing heartland of Central Queensland. You will also find restaurants and fast-food outlets catering to more global tastes. Some of the best meal deals can be found in rural pubs, many with a long history, while Gladstone also boasts its share of more modern wine bars and taverns.
Top taste tips:
- Mariners meet menus at the award-winning Gladstone Yacht Club
- A true flavour of the region’s history at The Grand Hotel, Many Peaks
- Temptations with a tipple at the Gecko Valley Winery
Where to Stay
As you might expect from a regional centre with a decades-long history of growth as an economic powerhouse, Gladstone offers everything from upmarket hotels to apartments and more humble caravan parks and camp sites. You will also find holiday homes and B&Bs in Tannum Sands.
Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy offer apartments and holiday homes, as well as holiday parks with camp sites and cabins. Inland from Gladstone, expect rural pub hotels, motels and holiday parks. Look out, too, for a chance to sample life on the land with a farm stay.
Where to stay for what:
- Gladstone as a base for regional exploration
- Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy for ‘life’s a beach’
- Biloela for adventures in nearby national parks
In Gladstone, the major shopping centre is Stockland in the suburb of Kin Kora, where you will find more than 50 outlets, including department stores, a supermarket, banks and a range of specialty shops. The CBD closer to the harbour also has its share of specialty shops and this is also the heart of the city’s dining and entertainment precinct.
Further afield you will find shopping in Boyne Island and Tannum Sands, and in the regional centres, such as Biloela and Calliope. Don’t miss the regional markets, such as the Library Square markets in the CBD, the regular Calliope Historical Village Markets, the Biloela Markets in the Park (third Saturdays of the month) and the Discovery Coast Markets (Agnes Water – second and fourth Sundays).
Gladstone shopping secrets:
- Art, craft and food meets music at Beach, Arts, Music, Tannum Sands
- Pop-up arts, crafts and food at East Shores parkland (when cruise ships dock)
- Satisfy your inner angler at Tackle World, the region’s biggest tackle shop
Gladstone Like a Local
Gladstone celebrates its ability to balance its industrial might with the wonders of a spectacular aquatic playground. The Curtis Island ferry service is a unique way to experience the harbour, with stops at Facing Island and Curtis Island before returning. Multiple trips mean you can spend the day – even a night – on either island before catching the ferry back.
Meantime, families with children will love the latest leisure addition – the East Shores Maritime Precinct, with its water-play features, boardwalk, barbecues and green space. It’s already a hit with locals and visitors alike.
Gladstone locals know:
- You can catch a barra all year in nearby Lake Awoonga
- The scenic Boyne River Turtle Way Bikeway is not to be missed
- The Tondoon Botanic Gardens are a wonderful natural haven