Cultural: Indicator Group Results

Cultural Health Results

The Cultural component score is comprised of two indicator groups, ‘sense of place’ which captures community views on place identity and place attachment and Indigenous cultural heritage which assesses the physical condition of cultural heritage sites and management strategies to protect these sites. ‘Sense of place’ was last monitored in 2019 and these results are used in the 2021 report card. As the ‘sense of place’ score has shown little variation over the life of the report card (2014 – 2019), monitoring of this indicator group will now be conducted every third year. The next proposed monitoring for this indicator is in 2022.

The scores for Indigenous cultural heritage have shown little variation over the last three years ranging from 0.53 to 0.55 (2016 – 2018). Owing to the stability of this indicator group from 2018 onwards monitoring is scheduled to occur every 5 years with the next round of monitoring proposed for the 2023 report card. Results from the 2018 surveys will be used to calculate the overall score for the Cultural component until then.

The overall score for the cultural health of Gladstone Harbour for 2021 was 0.60 (C). This was comprised of the six indicators for ‘sense of place’ and two indigenous cultural heritage indicators, physical condition and management strategies.

The ‘sense of place’ indicator group was assessed through a Computer-Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) survey of 401 people that was conducted in June 2019. An additional 38 responses were collected from an online version of the survey.

The overall grade for Indigenous Cultural Heritage is based on the physical condition and management strategies of monitored cultural sites. The scoring structure takes into consideration the social, spiritual and scientific values of the sites and any anthropogenic or natural impacts.

Indigenous Cultural Health was assessed through field surveys undertaken in four zone, The Narrows, Facing Island, Gladstone Central, and Wild Cattle Creek. Within each zone a reference site (cultural locus site) was identified, against which the other sites were assessed. The cultural health of sites was weighted using inputs from the Traditional Owners and Elders.

Cultural Indicators
2021 Results
Cultural Overall Result
Grading system
Very good (0.85-1.00)
Good (0.65-0.84)
Satisfactory (0.50-0.64)
Poor (0.25-0.49)
Very poor (0.00-0.24)
Data not available

Change (from 2020 to 2021)

Sense of place Indicator Group Results

What was measured?


The ‘sense of place’ indicator group comprised six indicators; place attachment, continuity, pride in the region, well-being, appreciation of the harbour and values. 

Place attachment: The degree to which the harbour provides an identity that is unique or distinct from other identities.

Continuity: Adds a temporal aspect to ‘sense of place’. It relates to the extent to which there has been continuity of ‘self’ (including ancestors) and activities in a place.

Pride in the region: Reflects people’s values, standards, and assesses pride in one’s identity in relation to place.

Well-being: Relates to the extent to which a place facilitates or enables one’s chosen lifestyle, or conversely, the extent to which a place does not hinder one’s social and economic opportunities. This indicator assesses people’s sense of ‘feeling at home’ and the extent to which this provides spiritual fulfilment or has restorative capacity.


The ‘sense of place’ indicator scores ranged from 0.58 (C) for continuity to 0.83 (B) for appreciation of the harbour. All scores were similar to 2018 and did not result in a change in the overall grade.

What does it mean?

Overall the score for ‘sense of place’ was 0.66 (C) this score has showed little variation over the five years it has been assessed (0.65 in 2015, 0.66 in 2016, 0.65 in 2017 and 0.65 in 2018). This suggests that the community’s expectations of Gladstone Harbour area are mostly being met.

The 2019 score for place attachment was slightly higher than the scores from 2016 to 2018 scores suggesting an increased engagement with and appreciation of the harbour.

The continuity score also improved compared to the previous years and was similar to the score received in 2014. This indicator measures the length of time people have lived in the area and whether they planned to stay for the next five years. Low scores for the former indicate that many respondents had not lived in Gladstone all their lives (25% of respondents have lived in Gladstone for 1 to 9 years). However, 51% of respondents indicated that they intended to remain in Gladstone for the next five years, suggesting that the community is becoming less transient and more stable.

The score for appreciation of the harbour remains the highest scoring indicator (0.83) and this has remained relatively stable since 2014. This shows that residents continue to have a positive outlook for the harbour area and what it provides to the community.

The pride in the region score has also remained stable indicating that residents continue to feel proud living in the Gladstone community.

The values indicator scores have also been stable between 2015 and 2019. The scores and stability suggest that residents of the Gladstone region continue to value the harbour area because it supports a variety of marine life, provides opportunities for outdoor recreation, attracts visitors to the region and is aesthetically appealing. However, fewer residents valued Gladstone Harbour highly based on its spiritual, cultural and historical significance.

The well-being indicator has increased steadily from 2015 to 2019 indicating that residents continue to feel their quality of life is improving. The community input into management measure received a satisfactory score, similar to the previous year.

Indigenous Cultural Heritage Indicator Group Results

What was measured?

The overall Indigenous cultural heritage indicator group is based on two indicators, physical condition and management strategies and consists of nine measures namely intactness of sites features, extent of current disturbance, management of threats, recording, cultural management, stakeholders, monitoring, access and cultural resources.

The physical condition indicator uses three measures:

Intactness of site features: Relates to heritage features within site being undisturbed and artefacts are in situ. A score of 10 is allocated when over 90% percent of the features are intact.

Extent of current disturbance: Relates to the percentage of site currently being disturbed by human and natural processes such as vehicle damage, erosion processes, animal or trampling impacts, dumping rubbish and camping. A site attracts a score of 10 if less than 10% of a site is subjected to current or active disturbances.

Management of threats: Based on a threats assessment for the site and identifying any management strategies that are in place to minimize the impacts or threats to the site. When a site has management strategies in place to minimise over 90% of threats it receives a score of 10.

The management strategies' indicator uses six measures:

Recording: Examines whether sites have been further researched and investigated during monitoring. A score of 10 is given when all sites were revisited in the zone and new monitoring stations were established.

Cultural management: Relates to the preparation and implementation of a cultural heritage management plan. A zone would receive a score of 10 if a heritage management plan is implemented for the zone and all management activities are in progress.

Stakeholders: Relates to the engagement of various stakeholders towards a long-term management plan for the zone. A score of 10 reflects representatives from all stakeholders’ groups are actively engaged and support ongoing activities.

Monitoring: Relates to the annual monitoring of each site each year. A score of 10 is given when all existing monitoring stations have been revisited.

Access: Relates to the percentage of sites within a zone that can be easily accessed for heritage management. A score of 10 is allocated for this measure when all sites within the zone are easily accessible for heritage management activities.

Cultural resources: Relates to the availability of both physical and digital resources that store knowledge of cultural heritage within a zone.A score of 10 reflects that all sites within a zone have both physical and digital interpretive resources.


The overall harbour score for Indigenous cultural heritage was 0.54 (C), very similar to the 2017 score of 0.55 (C). This score is based on the satisfactory scores received for physical condition (0.56) and management strategies (0.52) indicators.

The satisfactory results for the physical condition scores was based on three measures. Scores received for intactness of site features ranged from good to very good, extent of current disturbance ranged from satisfactory to poor and management of threats ranged from satisfactory to very poor. The poor scores are reflective of a range of threats. These include off-road vehicle use, trampling, camping, rubbish, development, erosion, inundation, wind erosion and weeds.

Within the cultural management strategies indicators, cultural management and cultural resources measures received very poor scores across all zones. The poor scores reflect the lack of cultural management plans, lack of cultural management activities and minimal availability of physical and digital interpretive elements in the monitoring zones.

Recording and monitoring measures received very high scores for all zones. Scores for The Narrows and the Wild Cattle Creek zones are based on sites revisited last year. Overall, the good scores for monitoring measures are indicate that a high proportion of existing monitoring stations have been revisited.

The stakeholder engagement indicators received satisfactory to poor scores. This highlights the need for improved engagement activities with all key stakeholders.

The access measure for the Facing Island received very good score meaning that all sites within the zone are easily accessible for heritage management activities.

What does it mean?

The overall cultural heritage grade remains at satisfactory, similar to the 2016 and 2017 grades.

The overall physical condition of the zones remained satisfactory. However, the ongoing natural (e.g. erosion, inundation) and anthropogenic (e.g. off-road vehicle use, development) disturbance and threats to the sites are evident in poor scores received for extent of current disturbance and management of threats measures for three out of four zones surveyed.

Similar to previous years, the lack of proactive cultural heritage management plans and heritage management activities in monitoring zones resulted in very poor scores for management strategies' indicators for all zones.

The very poor scores could be improved by focusing on a range of heritage management activities such as fencing, weed control, dune rehabilitation, imposing restrictions on 4WD access, installation of cultural signage and introducing or improving heritage management plans.

The stakeholder engagement scores ranged from satisfactory to poor, highlighting the need for improved engagement activities with all key stakeholders relevant for site and zone management. 

Indigenous Cultural Heritage Results

The Narrows received satisfactory results for physical condition (0.58) and management strategies (0.50). The scores and grades for The Narrows were based on six sites documented in 2016, three sites documented in 2017 and one site documented in 2018.

The Narrows is the largest zone extending from Deception Creek to the Calliope River anabranch covering approximately 430 km2 of both the mainland and parts of Curtis Island. The cultural locus site is a 2 km long quarry site which was used by Traditional Owners to quarry silcrete to manufacture stone tools. The Traditional Owners and Elders also identified a stone arrangement at Mt Larcom which resembles a crocodile and is linked with ‘Gu-ra-bi’ dreaming. A number of stone arrangements were found in the north of The Narrows. A close examination of the material suggested the area was disturbed in the past by fire, water activity, cattle and trampling.

Indigenous Cultural Heritage Results

The Facing Island zone received satisfactory results for physical condition (0.56) and management strategies (0.55). A total of seven sites have been identified in annual field surveys since 2016 and six sites within this zone have been re-surveyed in 2018. No new surveys were conducted in 2021.

Facing Island is located approximately 7 km east of the Gladstone Central Business District. The island covers approximately 57 km2 and has many long sandy beaches. The cultural locus site for the Facing Island is a large shell midden. A number of stone tools and shell scatters are located in the south eastern part of the Facing Island.

Indigenous Cultural Heritage Results

The Gladstone Central zone received satisfactory results for physical condition (0.60) and management strategies (0.53). This zone was resurveyed in 2018. A total of six sites have been identified for annual surveys within this zone since 2016 of which five were revisited for the 2018 report card. There were no site surveys in 2021.

The Gladstone Central zone covers approximately 173 km2 area around the Gladstone CBD. This zone has been initially chosen for monitoring as it has a large number of sites which were of cultural significance to Traditional Owners and Elders for fishing, hunting, boating, traditional meetings and ceremonies. This zone has been further extended in 2017 including sites near Boyne and Calliope Rivers. Barney Point was identified as the cultural focus site in 2017 as Traditional Owners and Elders saw this site as being a positive place of significant cultural and social meaning and more representative of the area than the Police Creek site that was previously chosen as a cultural focus site.

Indigenous Cultural Heritage Results

The Wild Cattle Creek zone received satisfactory results for physical condition (0.50) and poor result for management strategies (0.48). This zone was not resurveyed in 2018 and 2019. A total of 16 sites have been identified through annual surveys within this zone since 2016. The 2018 score and the grade for the Wild Cattle Creek is based on 11 sites documented in 2016 and 5 sites documented in 2017.

The Wild Cattle Creek zone covers approximately 92 km2 running south along the shore from the mouth of the Boyne River, near Tannum Sands, for about 23 km. This zone includes the Wild Cattle Island National Park which is important for endangered migratory birds and nesting sea turtles. The southern part of this zone consists of Hummock Hill Island. In 2017 additional sites from Hummock Hill Island were surveyed and baseline data was added to the database. The cultural locus site for the Wild Cattle Creek is an artefact scatter/shell midden and quarry site at the Hummock Hill Island. Traditionally, access to these islands would have been through tidal mudflats and small creek crossings.