Gladstone is a city in Queensland, Australia, with a long history and several heritage sites. There is actually a lot more to discover about the city than many people realise at first. The Harbour Festival has been going for more than 50 years, and has really grown into something special over that time. Today it’s an action-packed social and cultural event that draws visitors from all over the country.

A Little Bit of History

The first Yacht Race from Brisbane to Gladstone, over a distance of 309 nautical miles, was held in 1949 and has been sailed annually ever since. A plumber by the name of Douglas Norris suggested that there should be a celebration at the end of the Race. A committee of interested locals was eventually formed, with Norris as the President, in 1962.

The first Harbour Festival, held in 1963, was a one-day event at the end of the Race and was staged on the back of a truck at the entrance to the town’s Central Park. The week before was a full programme of Back to Gladstone activities. The Festival has grown in popularity every year, and today it is a full long weekend event, held in late March or early April from the Wednesday before Good Friday when the Race begins to Easter Sunday, with something to appeal to everyone. It is now held at the Gladstone Ports Corporation (GPC) Marina Stage and Parklands – a long way from the back of a truck! Its convenors always pay attention to what local and visiting festival-goers have to say, and often reinvent old amusements or introduce new ones based on their feedback.

What to do at the Harbour Festival

The festival is a great drawcard for visitors, and really boosts the spirits of the Gladstone community as well. The activities on offer include a food court with several tasty treats to sample, incredible firework displays to watch, fun rides for children, a variety of entertainments on the GPC Marina Stage and several other novelty attractions and events. The Raft Race and Talent Quest in particular always draw big crowds.

Other Attractions

Many visitors come to the city with the Harbour Festival in mind, but expand their stay to include some of the other drawcards on offer. For example, the Turf Club is also nearby, so punting enthusiasts can incorporate a visit to the track into their weekend’s activities. There’s generally something interesting happening on the course, and putting money on smaller events can be a helpful and pressure-free way to develop insights into larger events. Bringing some of this action in is often the perfect way to round off the festivities.

The East Shores Water Park is also fun for the whole family, and the Tondoon Botanic Gardens should also not be missed. The Several accommodation options are available, and the Golf Course and Winery ensure that there really is something for everyone who visits the city, no matter what the time of year is. Of course, coming during the Harbour Festival makes things better than ever!