Fitzroy Shire, an area of 5905 sq km west and south of Rockhampton, was amalgamated with Livingstone Shire, Mount Morgan Town and Rockhampton City in 2008 to form Rockhampton Regional Council. It had a common boundary with Rockhampton City and its largest township, Gracemere, was treated as part of metropolitan Rockhampton for statistical purposes. In 2001 metropolitan Rockhampton included 47% of the shire's population of 9579 people.
The Fitzroy River, named after the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Charles FitzRoy, in 1853 by Charles and William Archer, flows through the western part of the shire and along its northern boundary to Point Alma on Keppel Bay. The Port is in the former shire, along with the small towns of Bajool and Marmor on the Bruce Highway, south of Rockhampton. The region's first European settlers were the Archer brothers who took up the Gracemere pastoral station in 1855. It was during their northwards expedition that the Archers encountered the river, first viewing it from the Dee Range escarpment north-west of Mount Morgan.
The Archers used the Fitzroy River to transport wool from their Gracemere pastoral station, and in 1858 the town of Rockhampton was proclaimed as the river port. By then many other pastoralists were taking up land in the areas of the Fitzroy River and Dawson River (a tributary of the Fitzroy). Rockhampton, alarmed at the slowness of the extension of the coastal railway from the south, opened an inland line which reached Westwood in 1867 and Gogango in 1874. Gogango, near the border between Fitzroy Shire and its westerly neighbour, Duaringa Shire, was the name of the local government division (1879) which initially comprised both shires. In 1898 the Fitzroy division was excised from Gogango, and became a shire five years later.
Because of Rockhampton's proximity, Fitzroy Shire did not establish a strong commercial centre, and its offices were in Rockhampton until the early 1990s. It did, however, develop a strong farm sector with dairying, poultry, orchards and vegetable growing for Rockhampton and Mount Morgan. The district's first agricultural show (1874) was held at Gracemere. The strength of that sector was evident in the shire's census figures between 1911 and 1933 (averaging 4600 people), but there was a loss of nearly 1000 people by 1954, a position that altered little for the next 20 or so years. The first sign of a spillover of activity from Rockhampton was the opening of a new regional saleyard at Gracemere in 1953. In the 1980s-90s the construction of a power station at Stanwell contributed to the urbanisation of Gracemere as a dormitory township. The shire's land-use plan defined industrial corridors along Gracemere-Stanwell and Bajool-Port Alma axes.
Fitzroy Shire's census populations were:
Grace Johansen, Pioneers to prosperity: a history of Fitzroy Shire, Rockhampton, CQU Press, 2003
Bouldercombe and Gracemere entries