Regions of Queensland
The Regions of Queensland refers to the geographic areas of the Australian state of Queensland. Due to its large size and decentralised population, the state is often divided into regions for statistical and administrative purposes. Each region varies somewhat in terms of its economy, population, climate, geography, flora and fauna. Cultural and official perceptions and definitions of the various regions differ somewhat depending on the government agency or popular group by which they are being applied.
Various Queensland state government departments adopt different definitions of regions for administrative purposes. The Queensland government Office of Economic and Statistical Research defines eleven regions. These are (roughly from south to north):
- Darling Downs
- South West Queensland
- Central West Queensland
- Wide Bay–Burnett
- North West
- Far North
These are the same divisions used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Sometimes several of these regions may be combined and referred to as a single region – for example, Mackay and Fitzroy are together known as Central Queensland, whilst Brisbane and Moreton are together known as South East Queensland. Smaller regions may also exist within these defined regions, such as the Torres Strait Islands or the Whitsunday Islands.
South East Queensland
South East Queensland is commonly considered to be a single region. It contains two statistical regions listed above, Brisbane and Moreton. The region has a population of 2,847,029 people, or 66.3% of the state's population. The area contains Brisbane, the state's capital city, as well as the Logan City, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Ipswich and the Lockyer Valley. The region is the major administrative and commercial centre and focus of tourism within Queensland.
The Brisbane region comprises the greater Brisbane metropolitan area, centred on the City of Brisbane and also including the Logan, Redland, Moreton Bay and Ipswich local government areas. The metropolitan area has a population of 1,945,639 (2008), representing 45% of the State's population. It is the state's main commercial and administrative centre and contains the state's largest domestic and international airport.
The Moreton region is largely used only for statistical purposes and is not otherwise in common use. The area is popularly regarded as being part of 'South East Queensland' and contains the areas not within the Brisbane metropolitan area, namely the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast, and the West Moreton sub-region consisting of the Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and Somerset local government areas.
The Gold and Sunshine Coasts, located south and north of Brisbane respectively, are two of the Queensland's most popular tourist regions, containing many hotels and resorts. Each region has an airport which caters primarily to tourists. The remaining parts of the region are located inland, west of Brisbane, and are primarily rural.
The region has a population of 901,390, representing 21.0% of Queensland's population.
The Darling Downs region, located about 160 kilometres (99 mi) west of Brisbane, consists of the fertile agricultural area west of the Great Dividing Range and south to the New South Wales state border, centred on the city of Toowoomba. It has an area of 90,246 square kilometres (34,844 sq mi) and contains the local government areas of Toowoomba, Goondiwindi, Southern Downs and Western Downs. In 2008, the region had a population of 231,599.
The South West region borders the states of New South Wales and South Australia and is sparsely populated. It contains the local government areas of Maranoa, Balonne, Bulloo, Murweh, Paroo and Quilpie. The main towns of the region are Roma, Mitchell, St George, Cunnamulla, Charleville, Surat and Thargomindah. Economic activities include cattle grazing, cotton farming, and natural resource extraction such as natural gas and opal mining. In 2008, the region has a population of 26,150 and an area of 319,883 square kilometres (123,507.5 sq mi).
The Central West region borders South Australia and the Northern Territory, and consists of the Barcaldine, Barcoo, Blackall-Tambo, Boulia, Diamantina, Longreach and Winton local government areas. Despite its vast land area of 374,743 square kilometres (144,689 sq mi), it only had a population of 12,256 (2008). It includes the region commonly known as Channel Country.
The Wide Bay–Burnett region is located north-east of the Darling Downs and north of the Sunshine Coast, covering a region of 52,377 square kilometres (20,223 sq mi). It consists of the Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Gympie, North Burnett and South Burnett local government areas. Major centres include Bundaberg, Gympie, Hervey Bay, Kingaroy and Maryborough. The area is rich in sugar cane farms and mills and has a significant tourism industry – it includes Fraser Island, a popular tourist destination and world's largest sand island. Its population in 2008 was 276,752.
The Fitzroy region contains the major centres of Rockhampton and Gladstone, the coastal areas and popular holiday destination's Agnes Water and 1770, and well as the hinterland areas further west. The region's economy is heavily dominated by coal mining, and cattle grazing. A major aluminium smelter is located in Gladstone. The region has a population of 187,916 people  and covers an area of 122,971.5 km².
The Mackay region is centred on the coastal city of Mackay and extends some 300 km inland. It contains the Whitsunday Islands group and the coastal towns of Proserpine, Bowen and Sarina. The coastal areas are densely covered in sugar cane farms, while the less densely populated inland areas have several mining communities.
The Northern region is a coastal region centered on the city of Townsville. Townsville is the location of a major seaport handling exports from mines in Mount Isa and cattle exports from coastal and inland areas. The region also contains a bulk sugar exporting terminal at Lucinda in the region's north. It also contains the inland city of Charters Towers and the coastal towns of Ayr, Home Hill and Ingham.
Known as the Gulf Country, the North West region is located along the Gulf of Carpentaria coast. The region's terrain is mostly arid or savannah country. The major city in the region is Mount Isa with a population of approximately 25,000. Other population centres include Burketown, Cloncurry, Doomadgee, Kowanyama, Mornington Island and Normanton.
The region has a population of 35,779 or less than 1% of the state's total . 28.1% of the region's population identify as Indigenous. The region's economy is heavily dominated by the Mount Isa Mines which extracts zinc, copper, silver and lead. Another significant industry is cattle grazing. The region covers an area of 308,098 square kilometres (118,957 sq mi).
The main population and administrative centre of the region is located in Cairns. Other key population centres include Cooktown, the Atherton Tableland, Weipa and the Torres Strait Islands. The region also consists of many Aboriginal and farming communities. In 2003 the region's population was 231,494 of which 117,531 lived in Cairns.
Significant industries include tourism, cattle grazing, agriculture (sugar cane and tropical fruits) and mining of both sand and bauxite.
Other names for regions are also in popular usage, for example by other government agencies and in various maps of regions of Queensland. The state also contains some smaller regions within those discussed above which are not necessarily used for statistical purposes, but which are distinct in terms of their geography, economy or demographic characteristics. Other regions in Queensland include:
- Tropical Queensland – The area of the state north of latitude 23.5 degrees South.
- Tropical North Queensland – The area of the state north of Mackay.
- "The Outback" – refers generally to Queensland arid inland regions.
- Whitsunday Islands – group of islands within the Mackay region. Popular tourist destination. The region includes the coastal community of Airlie Beach, and sometimes refers also to Proserpine.
- Torres Strait Islands – between the northern tip of Queensland and Papua New Guinea
- Atherton Tableland – fertile agricultural district in Far North Queensland – Cairns hinterland.
- Granite Belt – an area of south-east Queensland centred on the town of Stanthorpe.
- Border Rivers – near the border between New South Wales and Queensland.
- Capricorn Coast – a section of the Central Queensland coastline.
- Maranoa – A district that is sometimes referred to as the Western Darling Downs, but is part of South West Queensland.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (23 April 2009). "3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2007-08 – Queensland". Retrieved 30 May 2008.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (23 April 2009). "3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2007-08". Retrieved 30 May 2008.
- ^ Office of Economic and Statistical research – Aborisginal and Torres Strait Islander population
- ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics – North West regional profile.
- ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics – Wide Bay-Burnet divisional profile