# G is for Gracemere.
Once upon a time, in a hospital beside a river which was full of big rocks, a baby girl was born. It was on a Wednesday night and in the middle of a wild, summer thunder and lightning storm. This little baby was taken home to the farm at Gracemere and lived there happily for the next 23years.
Gracemere, I cannot write about it without being full of emotion. My childhood, teenage and young adult years were spent there. Gracemere is about 10 kms west of Rockhampton, situated right on the Tropic of Capricorn, it is now a satellite of Rockhampton City but when I grew up there it was just a little country township with a tightly knit local community, full of the old names and lots of closely connected family and relationship ties.
Rockhampton is the Beef Capital of Australia and situated at Gracemere are the sale yards, now known as Central Queensland Livestock Exchange (CQLX), which are the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Below are images of the exterior and interior of the modern sale yards. A lot of $s pass through this facility which boasts a 1000 seat sales ring and facilities for stud cattle displays and hosts the National Quarter Horse Sale.
First European settlement at Gracemere was made by the Archer Brothers in 1855. Their homestead was built beside a lagoon and the little settlement was named Gracemere after the wife of Thomas Archer, Grace, and mere the English/Scottish word for a lake. The now city of Rockhampton was named for the large rocks in the river which hampered any further upstream passage by boat and hampton the English word for home town. The Archer property at Gracemere was noted for sheep and cattle production.
The Ellida was the first boat up the Fitzroy River and it was used by the Archer family to bring supplies and to transport their wool from the Fitzroy River to Gladstone for shipment. The bell from the Ellida was gifted to the Gracemere State School by the Archer Brothers and for all of my primary school days it was the bell which summoned us to parade every day. It was a great honour to be bell ringer!
The Gracemere State school was established in 1871 and this year celebrates 150 years in education. I recall the centenary in 1971 when, as a teenager, I was on the planning committee for the centenary celebrations. My father was chairman of the committee and one of his brothers was secretary and I went along with my dad to all the meetings. One of the centenary projects was to mount the Ellida bell on a tower, as seen in this grainy picture, and to place a large granite monolith with a brass plaque to explain the history of the bell. BTW; Gracemere is also well known for its Gracemere Granite!
My own family of origin settled in the area in 1887 and by all accounts since then have been prolific breeders who have left their mark on the community and who still are well represented there. I have a great love for Gracemere, the place of my youth, and a visit there to catch up with family is a great joy for me.
In August this year, God willing and covid permitting, I will go back for the 150 years celebration and take a walk down memory lane. Maybe, I’ll even ring the bell!
Established in 1871, Gracemere State School is the oldest school in Central Queensland.
So; our old school song!
“Here’s to the years of schooldays,
To the friends who are tried and true,
Sing the old school song,
With the old school throng,
And be true to the brown and blue.
Make it a song we shall all remember,
Make it the best of all our joys.
So year by year we’ll sing,
and we’ll make the rafters ring,
We’re the Gracemere girls and boys!”