Rockhampton Regional Council was formed in 2008 by the amalgamation of Rockhampton City and Fitzroy, Livingstone and Mount Morgan Shires. Former residents of the Livingstone Shire voted for de-amalgamation in 2013.
Rockhampton is on the Fitzroy River and is 640 km north-west of Brisbane. It was named by reference to a rocky ford in the river where a wharf was established to transport livestock to southern markets. The 'hampton' was added to signify a town (Old English derivation) and the full name was first used in 1856.
Mount Morgan is in the south of the regional council area. From there the regional council extends northwards for 180 km to Broad Sound. From Keppel Bay (Yeppoon), the council area extends 110 km inland. Its area is 18,361 sq km, mainly cattle-grazing land apart from a few minor ranges. The largest range is around Mount Morgan, where wealth came from metals rather than beef.
There were several minerals finds around Rockhampton in the 1860s, more spectacular for their population influxes than their yields, but they brought settlement to the Fitzroy River district. Mount Morgan (1882) achieved both. In about 1910 it had about 10,000 people and Rockhampton had about 18,000. Seventy years later Mount Morgan had 3000 people and sultry Rockhampton's watering place, Yeppoon, had 6500. Rockhampton's population was 50,000.
Rockhampton had its own railway nearly 40 years before it was on the North Coast line. In 1867 lines were built inland to Westwood and down to the Stanley Street Wharf. The inland line was pushed as far as Blackwater by 1877. Eager beach-goers had lines to Emu Park and Yeppoon (1888, 1909). Another line connected Mount Morgan to Rockhampton in 1898, and by 1927 it had reached south to Theodore. A short line connected the North Coast railway to Port Alma in 1912. With such a massive network, Rockhampton had substantial railway and locomotive workshops, an important employer.
A short distance to the south-west of Rockhampton, Gracemere (Fitzroy shire) became an agricultural and saleyard centre. Its population was boosted in the 1980s with the Stanwell power station.
Livingstone Shire included the Yeppoon/Keppel Bay areas. In 2009 the coastal towns and settlements extending from Yeppoon to Emu Park accounted for 55% of the shire's population. Retirement living is responsible for some of that: the median age of Livingstone Shire's population in 2006 was 40 years, compared with 37 for Australia. The medians in Fitzroy Shire and Rockhampton were 35 years. The strongest claim for retirement living, however, was from Mount Morgan with a median age of 44 years.
The contributions of the four municipalities to the Rockhampton Regional Council were:
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Livingstone Shire (64% of Rockhampton Regional Council's area) occupied the north, touching Rockhampton and including the Keppel Bay coastline. Council offices are maintained at the four former centres.
The leading employment sector in the council's jurisdiction is wholesale and retail distribution (Rockhampton 22.7% of total employment, Fitzroy Shire 22%, Livingstone Shire 17.9%). Agriculture accounted for 10.7% of employment in Fitzroy Shire and 7% in Livingstone. Above-average employment figures were found in Livingstone Shire: education 11.4%, accommodation and hospitality 8.5% and property and business services 7.2%. All figures are from the 2001 census.
In March 2013 more than 56% of voters in the former Livingstone Shire opted to leave the Rockhampton Regional Council in a de-amalgamation vote. From April 2013 transition committees and interim CEOs would be in place in the Livingstone Shire leading to elections in late 2013 and a separate Livingstone Shire council from 1 January 2014.
Rockhampton, Keppel Bay Area, Fitzroy, Livingstone and Mount Morgan Shire entries