It has a population of around 800, and services the surrounding district with two pubs, three churches, a bank, Post Office and several shops and small businesses providing basic goods and services. The closest hospital is 11 km away in a neighbouring rural town, but doctors take appointments in the town’s medical clinic. There is a kindergarten (approximately 12 enrolments), state primary school (63), Catholic primary school (60) and a secondary school (approximately 205 students, drawn from the wider district).
Gladstone has sporting/social clubs providing for Aussie Rules football, netball, cricket, tennis, golf, lawn bowls, swimming (at the local outdoor pool) and soccer (newly formed for school-aged children), all seasonal. Sporting competitions occur between clubs from the neighbouring towns within a radius of about 75 km.
Wheat and sheep are the main farming produce of the region, but Gladstone has the largest inland grain storage facility in the Southern Hemisphere, storing wheat, barley, durum wheat, peas, faba beans and fiesta beans. Gladstone is also the home of Trend drinks, a local soft drink manufacturer, with a history dating back to 1876.
Gladstone is located on the main Port Pirie to Broken Hill railway, with branches going north and south. Originally, all the lines were 3 ft 6 in (1067 mm) gauge narrow gauge railways. In 1927, the line south of Gladstone to Hamley Bridge was converted to 5 ft 3 in (1600 mm) broad gauge, making Gladstone a break-of-gauge junction.
In 1970, the line from Port Pirie to Broken Hill was converted to 4 ft 8½ in (1435 mm) standard gauge making Gladstone into a rare three-gauge break-of-gauge junction. In the 1980s, the broad and narrow gauge lines were closed, leaving Gladstone as a purely standard gauge station. The station is still served by the twice-weekly Indian Pacific train, run by Great Southern Railways. It runs to Adelaide on Sundays and Thursdays, and to Sydney on Tuesdays and Fridays.