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Overview

With a history as a stopover point for travellers and a railway hub for local farmers, Gatton is today a centre for the surrounding vegetable growing region. It is also the administrative centre for the Lockyer Valley Regional Council. A lively town for its size, it has a lot to offer for both growing families and enterprising young couples.

  • Population – 7,101
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander percentage of population – 3.3%
  • Closest major town/city – Toowoomba (37 km)
  • Distance from airport – 57 km (Toowoomba); 103 km (Brisbane)
  • Cinemas – 0
  • Cafes/restaurants – 15
  • Pubs/bars – 4
  • Primary schools – 3
  • Secondary schools – 1
  • Tertiary education providers – 1
  • Annual average maximum temperature – 26.9°C
  • Annual average minimum temperature – 13.0°C

The location

Located in the Lockyer Valley, Gatton is nestled in a gap between mountains of the Great Dividing Range. It is situated between Toowoomba, 37 km to the west, and Ipswich, 55 km east.

The people

Although the median age of Gatton residents is only 33, there is also a higher than average number of retirees in town. The reason for this low median age is that more than 28 percent of the population are aged between 20 and 34 years, and numbers in the 35-64 age bracket are substantially less than state and national averages. This could perhaps be due to high numbers of backpackers and others who travel to the area to work on local vegetable farms.

The medicine

Gatton’s healthcare needs are provided by four medical centres:

The town also has a small hospital, Gatton Health Service, and an ambulance station. There are two aged care facilities in town – Amaroo Aged Care Service and Regis Gatton.

Gatton’s health profile is disadvantaged. Despite the low median age, there is a high proportion of elderly residents, with the associated prevalence of chronic disease. Income is below average, which may account for generally poor diet. Unhealthy weight, smoking and high alcohol consumption are also relatively common.

Gatton is in the Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN and is rated RA2.

Education

Gatton has some good choices for education. There are five kindergartens and daycare centres in the town, as well as another at the nearby University of Queensland campus. For primary education, there is the public Gatton State School as well as Peace Lutheran Primary School and the Catholic Our Lady of Good Counsel School. The local secondary school is Lockyer District State High School. Although there are no private options for secondary education in Gatton, Toowoomba offers a number of choices.

The old Gatton Agricultural College, just a few kilometres east of town, is now a campus of The University of Queensland (UQ) providing courses in veterinary and agricultural sciences, together with research facilities. For other tertiary courses, Toowoomba and Brisbane are the places to go. Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges also has a training hub at the UQ campus, focusing on agricultural traineeships and short courses.

Career options for partners

Agriculture is by far the biggest employment sector in Gatton, with almost 16 percent of the workforce stating they are involved in the vegetable growing industry. Close to one in three of the town’s workforce are employed as labourers. Part-time work levels are higher than the rest of the state, as would be expected in an area with a large amount of seasonal work. However, at 9.2 percent the unemployment rate is high, and rates of full-time work are substantially lower than the rest of Queensland. The numbers employed in professional and clerical careers are quite low, and opportunities may be better in Toowoomba for those wanting work in these areas.

Voluntary work participation rates in Gatton are similar to state and national averages. The local council has a team of volunteers that run local information centres and museums, while St Vincent de Paul and the Red Cross are other options.

Arts and culture

For those interested in learning to make their own music, there are a few music teachers in Gatton who teach piano, guitar and other instruments. There is also tuition available for several styles of dance, including ballet, tap and highland dancing.

Located beside the lake in Lake Apex Park is the Lockyer Valley Cultural Centre, which houses the Lockyer Valley Art Gallery and the Queensland Transport Museum. The gallery displays works by both local artists and those from further afield, while the museum showcases the area’s transport heritage with vintage trucks, models and other displays. The Lockyer Legends Hall of Fame, also found at the cultural centre, is a tribute to locals who have made an important contribution to society.

Great outdoors

Gatton has ample outdoor opportunities, including Gatton National Park, which is only minutes away. Though small, the park conserves remnant ecosystems that were once typical of the region but that have been lost to land clearing. It is also home to bird species of international significance so is a great place for birdwatching as well as bushwalking.

With the Great Dividing Range nearby, there are several other national parks and state forests close to Gatton that provide opportunities for camping, hiking and generally enjoying the outdoors. These parks include:

  • Lockyer National Park
  • D’Aguilar National Park
  • Main Range National Park
  • Ravensbourne National Park
  • Glen Rock State Forest

For water sports, Lake Clarendon is less than 10 km away and a popular place to fish or explore by paddlecraft. Or head further afield to Lake Wivenhoe.

There are also parks in Gatton itself, including Lake Apex Park, which has a large lake that is visited by many species of waterbirds. It is ideal for a picnic, birdwatching or a walk around lake.

For those looking to enjoy a more sporting outdoor life, Gatton has an active sporting community, with soccer, rugby league, Aussie rules football, tennis, bowls and golf all part of the local scene. Horse racing enthusiasts are also covered with the Gatton racecourse holding 12 meetings each year.

Social scene

In addition to Gatton’s sporting clubs, the town has other clubs for social get-togethers. There are local Lions, Rotary, CWA and RSL clubs as well as lapidary and quilting groups. The Lockyer Valley Sports and Aquatic Centre is a good place to catch up with friends at the pool or gym, or join in one of the centre’s sports competitions or classes.

For a sociable drink or a bit of nightlife, head to one of the town’s four pubs, some of which offer gaming or other entertainment as well, such as live sports on the big screen at the Royal Hotel’s Sports Bar.

If you love to shop, there is the Gatton Square shopping centre in addition to the main street shops. For more extensive shopping expeditions, Toowoomba is not far away.

Food and drink

In addition to meals at the local pubs and golf club, Gatton also has over a dozen cafes and restaurants to choose from, as well as a number of takeaway options. Several restaurants have ethnic cuisine available, including Thai, Japanese, Indian and Italian. The town’s cafes are ideal for a light lunch or coffee and cake.

Housing

Gatton’s housing market offers a mix of both older-style houses and modern, recently built homes. Around 78 percent of homes are separate houses, with semi-detached houses and flats also available. Prices are affordable because the demand is relatively low. Expect to pay a median of $241,500 for a three-bedroom home, with rent for a similar house at around $300 per week.

Transport

There are several transport options in Gatton. The twice-weekly Westlander train service that runs between Brisbane and Charleville stops in the town. For bus transport, Bus Queensland provides a service between Brisbane and Mount Isa that includes Gatton in its stops, while Greyhound Australia runs several buses each day that stop in Gatton on its Brisbane to Toowoomba run.

Gatton has great access via car to the rest of Queensland. The Warrego Highway (A2) passes just north of town, connecting to both Brisbane and Toowoomba, while the Gatton-Clifton Road gives access to the south and the Gatton-Esk Road to places north.

Other attractions

Broadband – Available through either ADSL2+ at up to 12Mbps, or NBN fibre. The fastest NBN packages provide 100Mbps downstream and 40Mbps upstream.

Historical trivia – In the late 19th century, the Queensland government considered moving the state capital from Brisbane to Gatton, as it is more centrally located.