Livingstone Shire, an area of 11,150 sq km and immediately north and north-west of Rockhampton, was amalgamated with Rockhampton City, Mount Morgan Shire and Fitzroy Shire in 2008 to form Rockhampton Regional Council. In 2013 former residents of Livingston Shire voted for de-amalgamation.

Its main population centre was in the east, where there are Yeppoon and Emu Park. Its northern limit approaches St Lawrence (Broadsound Shire) and its western limit is the Mackenzie River. The name was derived from the county of Livingstone, which was named by the New South Wales Surveyor-General in 1855.

The shire was originally the Gogango divisional board (1879). Gogango is a small town on the Capricorn Highway, south-west of Rockhampton, and whilst it was not in Livingstone Shire it was originally in the divisional board's area. It was in this direction that most of Gogango's population lay, where there were numerous mining settlements. Mount Morgan (1882) was chief among those. It was at Canoona, however, 40 km north-west of Rockhampton, that Queensland's first payable gold was found. Later gold and copper-mining towns were Cawarral (1863), Mount Wheeler (1868) and Mount Chalmers (1869), all between Rockhampton and Yeppoon.

Yeppoon was scarcely a gleam in a developer's eye in 1868 when Rockhampton, wanting a cool watering place away from its inland heat, had a town approved at a spot known as Spring Head. For the same reason, Emu Park was approved as a township in 1869. A railway line was opened from Rockhampton to Emu Park in 1888. In the long run Yeppoon, with fertile hills as its backdrop, overtook Emu Park, particularly after it had a railway connection in 1908.

The other railway from Rockhampton through Livingstone Shire was the North Coast line. It reached Rockhampton from Gladstone in 1903, and was extended northwards during 1913-20. The line facilitated the exploitation of guano deposits at Mount Etna. Settlement long preceded the railway, when in 1886 a European settler opened a nearby cave system (The Caves) as a tourist attraction. The Caves Hotel became the basis of a small township with a store and a hall, and The Caves consolidated school replaced several small outlying schools in 1969.

Livingstone Shire was described in the 1946 Australian Blue Book:

Gogango division became a shire in 1902, but it had been reduced in area when Fitzroy division was excised in 1890.

Gogango became Livingstone Shire in 1903, keeping its headquarters in Rockhampton, where they remained until transferred to Yeppoon in 1982. By then Yeppoon had 41% of the Shire's population, and was in the throes of digesting the controversial Iwasaki resort at Farnborough, about 8 km to the north. Yeppoon also had a vigorous pineapple and tropical fruits industry.

North of Yeppoon is Shoalwater Bay, an isolated area consisting of ranges and former cattle properties. In 1965 the Department of Defence acquired over 2500 sq km of the country for training purposes. Between Yeppoon and the Defence area is the tucked-away village of Byfield, while the holiday town of Keppel Sands is south of Emu Park.

Rockhampton is a regional educational centre, but so too is Yeppoon with three Catholic and two State schools. Education was Livingstone Shire's second largest employment sector, with 11.3% of the workforce. Next were health and community services (9.3%), restaurants and hospitality (8.5%), manufacturing (8.1%) and agriculture (7.0%). The largest employment sector, retail and wholesale, had 13.8% of the workforce. The most noticeable aspect of agriculture is pineapples and tropical fruit, but in 1993 the shire also had 156,000 meat cattle.

Livingstone Shire's census populations were:

Census Date Population
1911 5656
1966 7780
1976 11,634
1986 15,886
1996 24,796
2001 27,017

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.

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, Rockhampton, Biloela, Gladstone, Monto and Gympie, and the smaller towns of Byfield and Marmor. The destructive winds and rain cut power, water, phones and damaged residences and businesses and agricultural crops. Several cottages on Great Keppel Island fell into the sea. Over 385 houses were rendered uninhabitable and another 1500 were damaged. The Bruce Highway was temporarily cut and many small towns were isolated. 

Leo Carpenter, Livingstone: a history of the Shire of Livingstone, Boolarong Publications for Livingstone Shire Bicentennial Community Committee, 1991

D.R.F. West, Livingstone Shire handbook, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, 1971

Tom Hearn, From the bush to the bay: a pictorial history of Livingstone Shire, Rockhampton, Central Queensland University Press, 2005

Canoona, Cawarral, Emu Park, Keppel Bay Area, Kinka Beach, Mount Chalmers, Taranganba, Yeppoon and Yeppoon Suburbs entries



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