Gladstone Harbour Festival Rio Tinto Alcan Street Parade, Goondoon Street, Gladstone.
Gladstone Harbour Festival Rio Tinto Alcan Street Parade, Goondoon Street, Gladstone. David Sparkes

Events body admits mistakes with parade still off cards

Events organisation looks to the future


Festival help is over: Rio Tinto Alcan focuses on health and childcare

WHILE the well-known street parade that kicks off the week-long harbour festival won't go ahead this year, it may not be gone forever.

The increased cost and manpower needed for the event due to requirements on road closures meant organisers had to make a tough call on the event going ahead this year.

But Gladstone Festivals and Events president Ray Lewis said it would be looked at for future events.

"The opening night celebrations will still be going ahead," he said.

"Even if it's not the street parade... we'll think of something else to do."

Nanny-state regulations scupper beloved festival parade

He said together with police and the Gladstone Regional Council, the GFE organisers and Gladstone Midday Rotary Club had exhausted all options.

"We looked at so many aspects. The last thing we wanted to do was lose the parade," he said.

"We were more than happy to fund it, but it wasn't just that, it's the manpower it takes."

Queensland Police would be charging up to $7000 for their presence, along with up to 40 SES and Rotary volunteers who would need to be trained as traffic controllers along the parade route, as well as more than 60 signs sourced, paid for, set up and taken down.

The State Government has a 12-page guide for those seeking approval for special events affecting roads.

Events organisation looks to the future

GLADSTONE Festivals and Events admits it's been "playing it safe" in its running of the Gladstone Harbour Festival in recent years, but with changes to management and sponsorships now is the time to look to the future.

GFE president Ray Lewis and event coordinator Angie Bettridge told The Observer the not-for-profit organisation needed a major restructure to increase the benefits for all involved.

While they wanted to "leave what happened in the past behind", they admitted there would be changes to procedures for reporting to sponsors as well as seeking community-wide support on what improvements should be made.

"The community was aware we did get ourselves into a bit of trouble," Mr Lewis said, following the events organisation's substantial financial loss in 2005 after big name paid-acts weren't popular with the crowds.

It would be devastating for a 52-year event to fall by the wayside.

He said money had also been spent in recent years on replacing assets and other required maintenance.

"After that we knew we had to become self standing," Ms Bettridge said, adding that while they were a not-for-profit, the group still needed to be viable.

"Rio are a big void to fill, but we completely support their decision," she said.

"Everything we've got goes back to our community."

They said the GFE was transparent, and the reporting system had evolved over the last two years.

"At the end of the day it's the community's money we have to account for," Mr Lewis agreed.

"It would be devastating for a 52-year event to fall by the wayside."

Festival help is over: Rio Tinto Alcan focuses on health and childcare

AFTER investing more than $1million in the Gladstone Harbour Festival over 46 years, Rio Tinto Alcan has ended its sponsorship due to a refocus and tightening of the money it gives out.

The industry giant finished the sponsorship on good terms with the festival organisers, to concentrate solely on health and child care.

Like many others in industry, the current global market is also having an effect on how much Rio Tinto Yarwun and QAL can give away in sponsorship.

Community relations manager, Gladstone, Jeremy Hastings said Rio Tinto was focussing on areas of the community in critical need.

"We are investing heavily in health and child care, which will help the whole Gladstone community," he said.

He said Rio Tinto had worked hard to ensure the festival had the opportunity for a sustainable future.

"And any suggestions to the contrary would be disappointing," he said.


  • 1949 - First Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race
  • 1962 - Gladstone Harbour Festival began. It eventually turned into a 7 day event
  • 2005 - GFE spent too much on big acts that weren't supported
  • 2013 - Rio Tinto pulls sponsorship
  • 2014 - Parade cancelled
  • 2015 onwards - GFE will be restructuring to increase benefits for all involved

What do you think about the festival parade being cancelled?

  • Cathy Langridge: "That's a bit of a shock. I've been going since I was a kid, and taking my own children along."
  • James Wragg: "Of course it's viable if it gets people to come out and enjoy themselves. I don't see the point of cancelling it."
  • Judy Turner: "I think it's terrible - plain disgusting - we've always had one and it's part of Gladstone."
  • Kevin Erickson: "I like not having it, it cuts down on the trash going into the harbour."

Have your say on the festival parade being cancelled by commenting on this story. Do you have any suggestions for how it could make a come back in future years?