The 1960s and 1970s
It is unclear when exactly the area started to take on an industrial ‘use’ but the early businesses were predominantly based around the beef cattle industry with livestock transport businesses such as Cooks Livestock Transport. The late S.J. Cook, known as Cookie, moved his livestock transport business from Elphinstone Street, North Rockhampton to Somerset Road in 1966 having seen the obvious advantage in being close to the Sale Yards and the western grazing areas. Arthur Shepherd set up his cattle livestock transport in Macquarie Street after operating out of his home in Dawson Road, Rockhampton and Ray Hopkins moved into Middle Road with his livestock carrying company. Another cattle transport operator, Keehn’s Livestock Transport, first occupied the land where part of Emerald Carrying (ECC) are located today and as ECC expanded in the mid 2000’s, they also occupied land where Drakes Sand & Gravel had run their business from land on the corner of Macquarie and Douglas Street.
In 2012 Hopkins Livestock Transport are still operating from Middle Road and the Shepherds still reside in Macquarie Street.
It is known that blocks of land which now span some of both Precinct K and Precinct B were zoned medium industry for 33 years before the zoning was changed. A map from 1972 and incorporated in the Fitzroy Shire Council Plan of 1982 and in place until 2005, shows land from Capricorn Street to Oxley Street and part of Somerset Road right up to Middle Road had a Medium Industrial zoning. This medium zoning was to allow the livestock transport industry 24 hour access to their businesses which at that time was the major industry in the area, servicing their rural clients to the west.
With the construction of the Stanwell Power Station in the mid 1980’s, came a new wave of business and industry. Bus transport for Stanwell workers was met by Biloela Coaches later to become Rockhampton City Coaches on the block now owned by Fraser’s Livestock . At some stage this was block also was the address of Hills Furniture Removalists.
In 1989 Zebra Wreckers started the Zebra Group in Somerset Road. Much earlier this land had been a cattle feed lot and business.
In the 1990s, businesses in this area comprised still predominantly cattle transport and a bus company.
Bill Deacon Transport started up in Douglas Street with his general transport business in 1992.
Centre Link Transport, operated by Peter Schuback, had a transport depot in Macquarie Street in the very early 1990’s.
In 1993, CQ Dozer Services bought the land of SJ Cook Livestock after his retirement.
Porters Livestock with their traditional yellow B-doubles selected land on the corner of Macquarie & Foster Streets in the early 1990’s. Curtis Livestock located in Foster Street and were followed by Frasers Livestock in Macquarie Street in the early 2000 timeframe. Newer livestock businesses such as Weicks livestock are based on the corner of Somerset Road and Macquarie Street.
Bradshaws Haulage, who carried coal to the Yarraboldy briquette factory until it stopped production, moved in on the corner of Macquarie Street and Middle Road. Bradshaws later began transporting Magnetite, which is used at the Mines in the wash plants, collecting it at the Port of Gladstone and delivering it to the various mines west of Rockhampton.
Up until approximately 2009, there was a period of slow growth, however, many of the earlier businesses established in the area, still remained.
Korn’s Transport from Dysart set up a depot in 2003 for servicing of their transport and mining equipment. This business was sold to Toll Mining who leased the Korn premises and continued in transport operations and mining equipment repairs and servicing. In 2015 Toll Fleet established their workshop and a new office facility on this site.
Carriers such as Easyhaul and Degunst provide transport services for the resources industry, and, along with Emerald Carrying, transport fuel in B-doubles from Gladstone to Gracemere. They have a drivers’ shift-change and depot facility on the corner of Maquarie and Douglas Streets.
When Col Porter retired, Crawfords Transport from NSW leased the depot at Macquarie and Foster Streets and provide transport services to Port Alma and DuPont and mines in the west. Degunst Transport purchased this site from Porters in 2014 and Crawfords Transport purchased and moved to an adjoining property to run their large transport company.
Vince and Margaret McQuillan had faith in the area and built the Arcadia Valley Storage Sheds in Somerset Road. These were extended by the new owners, the O’Neills, and today are a showcase of a passive but in demand business, as people on the move require storage.
Middle Road has been home to several butcher and meat processing companies. What is now Dairy Farmers was originally Norcos’ cold-rooms back in the early 1990s.
Anvil Engineering moved from Douglas Street to Middle Road and operates a busy engineering workshop.
Larsens Air Conditioning Hire operate from premises in Middle Road and service a wide area from Rockhampton to the west and down to the SE Corner of Queensland.
Fitzroy Mechanical Services (FMS) built a workshop on land on the corner of Macquarie & Foster Streets as a base for their coal mining and salt mining equipment repair. In mid 2012 their workshop and adjoining land was sold and leased to NPM Constructions who serviced rail electrification and signalling business. In early 2015 Multi-Mach opened their mechanical and auto-electrical repair business servicing the transport business.
Paradise Coaches ran a bus service on land in Foster Street. They ran a bus service which included moving workers to the mines with a BIBO (bus in / bus out) service.
Temporary Fencing Hire purchased Trevor Elliot Backhoe Hire’s land in Foster Street and with an expanding customer base and great demand soon filled the entire block with temporary fencing to be provided all over Central Queensland. TFH has been on-sold.
Michael Corones of CQ Fuels had tremendous foresight to build and operate the 24-hr Caltex unmanned service station which was purpose built for B-doubles and has been a huge success for the region. Caltex have taken over CQP’s unmanned service station.
From 2010 on ….
Earthworx Australia Wide (telecommunications cable-layers) could see the potential of being on the western side of Rockhampton and opened their machinery depot in early 2012 in Somerset Road.
Sunstate Group Qld (SGQ) set up in late 2011 with their road construction headquarters being a branch of their Hervey Bay business.
New to Macquarie Street were SSS who work within the mining and industrial sector with recycling services. CQ Tilt & Tray now operate from this site also.
Leighton Contractors and QR National moved into the area in June 2012 to undertake the $80 million Wiggins Island Rail Project (WIRP) carrying out the duplication of the rail track from Rocklands to Stanwell. This was completed within 15 months.
Pickapart and Paddy’s Bins, part of the Zebra Group are out on the Capricorn Highway where Mr. Barnicoat had a wrecking yard on a large block of land adjoining what was the access to Langley Rail Crossing. For a short time builder Scott Kilpatrick used the land to display his transportable homes. Eventually the land was amalgamated and three workshops were built which now service the transport and mining industry.
Also on the Capricorn Highway is a spray painter/panel beater and a pet shop -plant nursery along diesel and fabrication businesses. A signwriting business Art Seduxion has recently set up in this precinct. Former occupants of the Pet Shop were a furniture recycler and an engine reconditioner.
Pre-fab (formerly Panelfab) has occupied land on Kelly’s Road for nearly 20 years and meets a high demand for transportable dongas and portable site offices etc.
The Gateway Estate, built by enterprising owners, was ahead of its time and had a long period lying in waiting for the start of a new boom. The Estate lay undeveloped for several years and languished with long grass and multiple agents trying to sell the blocks.
When the demand for medium industrial land came in early 2012, it was only a matter of months and the blocks were sold. Development happened quickly with a mix of industry servicing, in one way or another, the resources sector, be it to do with the gas pipeline industry or hydraulics and hoses for machinery. Pacific National, who move coal by rail, established their head office on Somerset Road. Transport businesses with short-term use of land within the GIA has included Heavy Haulage Australia, Crane Trucks R-Us, Mountain Industries and Hilliers Heavy Equipment (Hyundai Machinery).
Cement Australia has been operating for a long time in the Gateway Estate.
By August 2012 demand for industrial land exceeded supply which saw buyers gazumped in their need for places to set up their businesses. This was a far cry from 12 months earlier and was caused directly by the mining boom to the west and the massive development in the Gladstone region.
MacNevin Investments demonstrated its confidence by building two substantial industrial premises on Somerset Road and in Capricorn Street. One of these premises was occupied by world leader in hydraulics, Eaton who supported the mining industry. Kurtz Transport utilizes a substantial area with warehouse and depot facilities.
Kele Property Group developed Link Gracemere and currently have Aurizon as their lead tenant. Further blocks of land are ready to cater for the ever increasing industrial demand.
Hassalls Auctions bought 5 blocks of land fronting Somerset Road to enable them to bring in the largest of mining equipment and surplus stock from mining and construction projects. By 2016 Hassalls had become a significant auction centre within Central Qld and had leased adjoining land in Foster Street to store and carry out monthly auctions disposing of the construction equipment and supplies from the completed LNG plants at Gladstone. Hassalls footprint in the GIA demonstrates the advantage of not having to transport large over-sized equipment through Rockhampton City’s road network.
Pickles Auctions, the largest auction company in Australia, identified the GIA as being a strategic location in the further growth of their business. They set up an auction centre in Somerset Road in early 2016 to intend to carry out auctions of motor vehicles and equipment.
Rhomberg Rail set up a depot in Middle Road for their rail servicing and maintenance business in 2014.
The eastern end of Somerset Road filled quickly with increased demand from transport and transport-servicing businesses. Ezibore, Tibbs Fleet & Mechanical, Easyhaul and Big Wheels Australia established sizable premises and depots between 2014 -15.
The Corbetts Group became involved in the transport of logs out of the Byfield Forestry area following Cyclone Marcia in February 2015 and operate from a transport depot in Foster Street working between Byfield, the GIA and Gladstone.
IOR a fuel transport company understood the potential of being located central between Gladstone and their western contracts and in 2016 moved into a depot at the eastern end of Foster Street.
The Gibb Group began work on establishing Gracemere Industry Park in 2013. Toll NQX engaged the Gibb Group to build them flood-free premises with road train access after they suffered repeated flooding issues in Port Curtis. Their 27,506 sq m block of land and large freight distribution centre operates on a block on the corner of Somerset Road and Enterprise Drive, adjacent to the GIA Overpass.
Also showing confidence in the economy and in the GIA is Schwarz Excavations who opened a state of the art workshop and depot for their rail servicing business and excavation hire in 2015.
Showing further confidence in the Gracemere-Stanwell Corridor are two businesses currently under construction in the Kabra / Boongary Road area.
J & S Drilling purchased the land formerly owned by Bill Deacon Transport in Douglas Street and will operate. This is their first branch opened on the east coast following branches opened in Perth and Darwin.