Prone to bursting her banks and inclined to drastic tides, the intricate channels of the Fitzroy River made her notoriously difficult to navigate by boat. And yet from the 1850s onwards ships of all sizes and types traversed the Fitzroy from the mouth at Keppel Bay to 40 kilometres upstream to the wharves of Rockhampton. The elegant architecture lining Quay Street on the southern side of the Fitzroy hints at a by-gone era of prosperity and trade, for the city of Rockhampton was once a thriving port.
The rich port history of Rockhampton may be little known, but as Rockhampton Art Gallery’s exhibition, Rockhampton: the forgotten port city shows, the vitality and growth of the city can be traced through exploring its relationship with the Fitzroy River. On display at Rockhampton Art Gallery from 11 July to 25 October 2015, the exhibition is complemented by this interactive website. Offering a unique 'then and now' perspective, these scenes of Rockhampton’s river life showcase our picturesque past and present. Rockhampton: the forgotten port city is additionally accompanied by a 96-page exhibition catalogue.
Many of the photographs, drawings and maps have come from various regional collections including Rockhampton Art Gallery; CQ Capricornia Collection at CQUniversity Australia; the Rockhampton Regional Library History Centre; and the Rockhampton & District Historical Society. The wealth of material held by the Queensland State Archives, and significant images at the State Library of Queensland have also assisted in developing this project. Many passionate local collectors have also allowed their treasures to be displayed, and members of Rockhampton Fitzroy Rowing Club kindly assisted with re-creating one photograph. The contemporary photographs have been taken by Gallery staff member, Thomas Degotardi.
Rockhampton Art Gallery is grateful to Arts Queensland for their financial support and to the Gladstone Ports Corporation for sponsoring this project. The operational support of Rockhampton Regional Council ensures the Gallery can continue to develop substantial exhibitions that explore the history of our region.