Yeppoon, a coastal town, is 30 km north east of Rockhampton. It is thought that the name was derived from an Aboriginal word describing a place where waters join, perhaps a reference to the mouth of Ross Creek and Yeppoon inlet.
During the early 1860s much of the coastal country around Yeppoon was acquired by the Ross Family, including the Taranganba pastoral run taken up by Robert Ross, now a 'southern suburb' of Yeppoon. Twenty miles inland, in land-locked Rockhampton, citizens seeking relief from the heat looked to the coast. Emu Park and Spring Head (a natural spring near the Yeppoon railway station) were proclaimed the town of Bald Hills in 1868, and later renamed Yeppoon. Township lots were put up for sale until 1872, but pastoralists and farmers continued to dominate the area. By 1882 there were just seven buildings in Yeppoon, mostly holiday cottages and a hotel. The hotel stimulated travel and local business. With expanding farm settlement and mining activity at Mount Chalmers and Carwarral (between Rockhampton and Yeppoon), the nascent town's popularity began to increase. A provisional school opened in 1885, and the town's first state school in 1889 (the buildings of which are listed on the Queensland Heritage Register). Later in the 1880s there was a telegraph connection, a second hotel and the Yeppoon Progress Association was formed. The association published a local guide in 1891, mentioning three hotels, a school, a church and several storekeepers. By the 1900s Yeppoon had emerged as a service town, a dormitory for miners and farm workers and a holiday resort. A railway line from Rockhampton opened in 1909.
A Methodist-Presbyterian Church was established in Yeppoon in 1889, followed by a Church of England in 1912. The Catholic community relied on visiting priests until a church was erected in 1918. Two years earlier, the church had opened a primary school and St Ursula's College. Not to be outdone, the Church of England opened St. Faith's girls' school (1923-1968). Pugh's Queensland Directory (1924) recorded four hotels, a railway station (1909), four cafes and refreshment rooms, numerous storekeepers, an ice works and Yeppoon Fruit Growers Ltd. The Yeppoon Fruitgrowers and Local Producers' Association was formed in 1923.
Early fruit produce, often apples or strawberries, was marketed locally or sold to mining communities. In the early 1940s tentative steps were taken to develop a tropical fruit industry, and in the 1950s pineapple growing expanded with direct supply to the Northgate cannery in Brisbane. Tropical fruit growing, promoted by a Cairns-based industry body, expanded rapidly in the 1970s and 1980s. It had been known for years that the hillside soils, accessible once the scrub was cleared, were fertile, and postwar mechanical clearing aided the task.
Railway travel to Yeppoon fostered a local tourist industry. Sunday outings ensured regular patronage of refreshment rooms and beach facilities. Off shore, North and Great Keppel Islands had basic cabin facilities, and in 1945 the Great Keppel Island Tourist Company set about developing the island's tourism potential. By the 1970s Yeppoon could be described as the largest of several small tourist settlements on the Capricorn coast, 'dependent on fishing, tourism, some pineapple farming and federal government benefits ... a small backwater in need of paint in parts' (Viviani et al., 1980). Passenger rail services ceased in the 1970s. Pineapples have been transported by truck since 2004 and in 2007-08 the branch line was dismantled.
In 1971 it was announced that a Japanese syndicate headed by Yohachiro Iwasaki was acquiring hundreds of hectares of beachfront land at Farnborough, just north of Yeppoon, for a resort. Farnborough was a community of farms and orchards, where sugar growing had been tried in the 1880s until the Yeppoon Sugar Company's mill had gone into liquidation in 1895. The Iwasaki project caused great controversy, with an anti-Japanese display mounted in the front yard of the local RSL to coincide with the offical beginning of construction in June 1979. Perceived State Government connivance in the scheme fuelled discontent. On Saturday 29 November 1980, the day of the state election, a bomb exploded at the Iwasaki Resort. Two men were charged (and subsequently acquitted). Nevertheless, the project proceeded, and local landholders savoured windfall gains by selling sites overlooking or near the resort. The end result was the Capricorn International Resort, owned by Iwasaki but managed by Rydges, which although scaled down from the original proposal, had a golf course, wetlands tourist attraction and an outsize freshwater swimming pool.
The Capricorn Tourist Development Organisation at Rockhampton undertook general tourist promotion for Yeppoon, and a more mature tourist industry emerged when the Organisation opened a separate information centre in Yeppoon in 1988. The town's proximity to the Keppel Islands bolstered its tourist industry.
During the 1990s Yeppoon's population grew by over 40%. Residential housing expanded northwards along the coast and northwest around the Catholic St Brendan's College (1939). Taranganba, Robert Ross' former fiefdom south of Yeppoon Inlet, became a suburb, with many residents commuting to employment in Rockhampton. Yeppoon has a comprehensive shopping area, including a drive-in plaza, public and private hospitals, and the headquarters of the Livingstone Shire until 2008. In addition to the Catholic girls' and boy's boarding colleges and primary school mentioned, Yeppoon is served by the original State primary school, Yeppoon State high school (1969) and Taranganba State primary school (1993) . There are also golf and bowling facilities, a surf-saving club (1926) and a racecourse (hosting 12 meetings a year). Primary producers are represented by a fruitgrowers' association and a show society.
Yeppoon's railway station (1909) and the war memorial in Normanby Street are listed on the Queensland heritage register, together with the first primary school (1889) in Queen Street, now used as a hall.
Tropical cyclone Marcia crossed the coast at Shoalwater Bay in February 2015 as a Category 5 cyclone, having escalated from Category 1 in just a few hours. As it progressed southwards it was downgraded but caused widespread damage and subsequent flooding in Yeppoon and towns to its south. The destructive winds and rain cut power, water, phones and damaged residences and businesses and agricultural crops.
Memorabilia at the Champions Brock Experience was damaged by floodwater from Cyclone Marcia. The museum had been opened in 2007 to honour the life of racing legend Peter Brock, before closing to the public in 2013.
Yeppoon's census populations have been:
Leo Carpenter, ed, Livingstone: a history of the Shire of Livingstone, Brisbane, Boolarong Publications, 1991
Nancy Vivani, The Iwasaki tourist development at Yeppoon, Brisbane, Griffith University, 1980
Livingstone History Book Editorial Committee, From the bush to the bays: a pictorial history of Livingstone Shire, Rockhampton, Central Queensland University Press, 2005
Cooee Bay and Taranganba entries