About my region – Central Queensland

​​​​​About my region is a series of individual profiles of the agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries in your region. This regional profile presents an overview of the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors in the Central Queensland region and the recent Queensland financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The Central Queensland region of Queensland is located along the central east coast of the state. The region comprises the five local government areas of Banana, Central Highlands, Gladstone, Rockhampton, and Woorabinda, and the major regional centres of Emerald, Gladstone and Rockhampton. The region covers a total area of around 117,300 square kilometres or 7 per cent of Queensland's total area and is home to approximately 225,300 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Central Queensland region occupies 90,700 square kilometres, or 77 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 17,400 square kilometres, or 15 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures which occupies 54,800 square kilometres or 47 per cent of the Central Queensland region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the Central Queensland region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Fitzroy region. It includes a legend which shows the broad land use categories— nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use; grazing native vegetation; production forestry; grazing modified pastures; plantation forestry; cropping; horticulture; intensive uses and water. This map is discussed in the above paragraph.
Source: Catchment scale land use of Australia - Update December 2018


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the August 2020 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 115,800 people were employed in the Central Queensland region. The region accounts for 5 per cent of total employment in Queensland and 17 per cent of all people employed in the Queensland agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector with 14,700 people, representing 13 per cent of the region's workforce. Health care and social assistance was the second largest employment sector with 13,400 people, followed by retail trade with 10,200 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were construction; mining; and education and training.

Employment profile, Central Queensland, August 2020
Shows the number of people employed in the Fitzroy region by industry in thousands. The figure is discussed in the previous two paragraphs.
Note: Annual average of the preceding 4 quarters.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 6291.0, Labour Force, Australia 2020

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in the Central Queensland region was $1.4 billion, which was 11 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Queensland ($12.9 billion).

The most important commodity in the Central Queensland region based on the gross value of agricultural production were cattle and calves ($1.1 billion) which contributed 80 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. Other important commodities in the region were cotton ($70 million) and pulses ($36 million).

Value of agricultural production, Central Queensland region, 2018–19
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the region in millions of dollars. The figure is discussed in the previous three paragraphs.
Note: The graph shows only data published by the ABS. Some values were not published by the ABS to ensure confidentiality. The "Other commodities" category includes the total value of commodities not published as well as those with small values.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 7503.0, Value of agricultural commodities produced, Australia 2020

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2018–19 there were 2,323 farms in the Central Queensland region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 13 per cent of all farm businesses in Queensland.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Central Queensland region, 2018–19

Industry classification

Central Queensland region


Number of farms

% of Region

Number of farms

Contribution of region to state total %

Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)  1,904 82.0  8,740 21.8
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming  113 4.9  719 15.8
Other Grain Growing  70 3.0  838 8.4
Horse Farming  51 2.2  509 10.1
Cotton Growing  40 1.7  206 19.4
Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing  34 1.5  808 4.3
Other  109 4.7  5,951 1.8
Total agriculture  2,323 100  17,771 13.1

Note: Estimated value of agricultural operations $40,000 or more. Industries that constitute less than 1 per cent of the region's industry are not shown.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Customised report, 2020

Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (1,904 farms) were the most common, accounting for 82 per cent of all farms in the Central Queensland region, and 22 per cent of all beef farms in Queensland.

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 29 per cent of farms in the Central Queensland region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 4 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2018–19. In comparison, 20 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 61 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Central Queensland region in 2018–19.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Central Queensland region, 2018–19
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Fitzroy region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.

Note: Only farms with an EVAO of $50,000 or more in 2018–19 are included in these data. The scope of ABS Rural Environment and Agricultural Collections changed in 2015–16 to include only agricultural businesses with an EVAO of $40,000 or greater.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Customised report, 2020

Fisheries sector

The coastline of the central Queensland region extends from Baffle Creek up to the northern tip of Allandale Island and encompasses both the Gladstone and Rockhampton areas. The East Coast Trawl Fishery, which is the largest of Queensland's commercial fisheries, operates in the region, alongside the Coral Fishery, the Eel Fishery, the East Coast Inshore Fin Fishery and the Marine Aquarium Fish Fishery. The area is particularly important to the River and Inshore Beam Trawl sector of the East Coast Trawl, accounting for 16% of the harvest. Several species are targeted by this fishery including Bay Prawns, Banana Prawns, School Prawns, Squids and Moreton Bay Bugs (DEEDI 2011). In 2018–19 the Central Queensland region was the source of 1,853 tonnes of commercial catch including 601 tonnes of King Prawns, 326 tonnes of Moreton Bay Bugs, 254 tonnes of Mud Crabs and 194 tonnes of Saucer Scallops (QDAF 2020a). Aquaculture is also present in the region, producing 190 tonnes in 2018–19 with a total production value of $3.6 million (Schofield 2020).

Gladstone is one of the key commercial fishing areas in the region. From 2002–12, Gladstone harbour recorded an average annual catch of 416 tonnes and an annual value of approximately $3.5 million. However, commercial fishery operations in the area declined in 2012 due to intensive port development in the harbour and the Queensland Government’s net buyback scheme (DNPRSR 2014). Species targeted in the area include Prawns, Mullets, Sharks, Barramundi, Mud Crabs and Whitings.

The proportion of residents in the Central Queensland region that fish recreationally is one of the highest in the state with 33.2% and 28.4% of residents fishing at least once a year in the Gladstone and Rockhampton areas, respectively (QDAF 2020b). Residents of the region mainly fish in estuarine and enclosed coastal waters near Rockhampton and Gladstone and in the south-eastern and central coast catchments, with more time spent in inshore coastal waters rather than offshore. Mud Crabs, Whitings, Barred Javelin, Barramundi, Spanish Mackerel and Yellowfin Bream are the most commonly targeted species in the region (Webley et al 2015).

Queensland state data

In 2017–18 the total gross value product (GVP) of Queensland's fisheries production was $294.4 million, a decrease of 5% ($14.9 million) from 2016–17. Queensland contributed 9% of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2017–18. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 61% ($180.2 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 39% ($114.2 million).

Queensland's wild-catch fisheries sector provides a range of fisheries products. The highest contribution being from Prawns and Coral Trouts. The GVP of wild-catch fisheries in Queensland decreased by 7% in 2017–18 to $180.2 million. Contributing to this decline was a decrease in the landed volume of Prawns (39% of total value of wild-catch; $70.1 million) and Coral Trouts (15% of total value of wild-catch; $27.1 million). The aggregate wild-caught GVP of Prawns, comprising mainly King Prawns, Tiger Prawns, Banana Prawns and Endeavour Prawns, decreased by 12% in 2017–18. The value of Coral Trouts decreased by 2% as a result of decreased catch.

The value of Queensland's aquaculture production decreased by 2% in 2017–18 to $114.2 million. This was largely due to a 4% decline in the GVP of Prawns to $74.7 million — down from $77.8 million in 2016–17; and lower production value of Barramundi, which declined by $1.5 million to $26.9 million. Prawns are Queensland’s biggest contributor to the aquaculture sector. The volume of aquaculture Prawns harvested for commercial purposes declined by 8% from 4,264 tonnes in 2016–17 to 3,921 tonnes in 2017–18. In 2016–17 prawn farms in the Logan River region of southern Queensland were destocked following an outbreak of White Spot Disease (McCarthy 2016; Mobsby & Curtotti 2019), with industry still rebuilding in 2017–18. In 2017–18 Queensland aquaculture production was dominated by Prawns and Barramundi, which together comprised 89% of GVP.

Commonwealth fisheries active in the waters off the east coast of Queensland include the Commonwealth Eastern Tuna and Billfish fishery (mainly supplying export markets with Tunas) and the Coral Sea Fishery.

In 2018–19, Queensland's fisheries product exports were valued at $185.8 million. Hong Kong and the China are the major destinations for Queensland fisheries exports, accounting for 29% and 21% of the total value of exports in 2018–19, respectively. Other major export destinations include Japan (15%) and United States of America (12%).

Recreational fishing is popular in Queensland. The results of the 2019–20 state wide and regional recreational fishing survey stated that 18.7% of Queensland’s population participated in recreational fishing in 2019 (approximately 943,000 people) (QDAF 2020). Total expenditure in the sector was estimated to be between $350 million and $420 million in 2008–09 (DEEDI 2009). The tropical waters of Queensland are also a key area for tourism, attracting anglers from around the world. Popular target species include Crabs, Prawns and a range of Finfish species including Cods and Groupers, Coral Trouts, Redthroat Emperor and Mackerels. For freshwater activity some key species caught include Barramundi, Eels, Silver Perch and Yabbies.

Note: Where applicable the Australian Fish Names Standard AS SSA 5300-2019 is now used in this section. In this section standard fish names for groups of species or species families are not capitalised and employ the use of initial capital letters.

Forestry sector

In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Central Queensland region was 26,400 hectares, comprised of 8,200 hectares of hardwood plantations and 18,200 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood plantation species in Queensland is Dunns white gum (Eucalyptus dunnii). The main softwood plantation species in Queensland are Slash Pine hybrid (Pinus elliottii hybrid), Southern Pine hybrid (Pinus caribaea hybrid) and Hoop pines (Araucaria cunninghamii).

In 2016 there were 4.6 million hectares of native forests in the Central Queensland region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Woodland (2.1 million hectares), Eucalypt Medium Open (1.4 million hectares) and Acacia (353,700 hectares). The majority of the native forests were privately managed (1,649,400 hectares), while 1,087,600 hectares were leasehold land and 771,900 hectares were on multiple use public forest available for timber production.

Queensland state data

In 2017–18, the total plantation area in Queensland was 230,500 hectares, comprised of 34,800 hectares of hardwood plantations and 195,600 hectares of softwood plantations.

In 2016, Queensland had 77 sawmills (including 31 softwood sawmills), 3 post and pole processors, 6 wood-based panel processors and 2 paper and paperboard processors.

In 2016, there were 51.6 million hectares of native forests in Queensland, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Woodland (27.1 million hectares), Melaleuca (5.1 million hectares) and Acacia (5.1 million hectares).

In 2017–18 the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Queensland was 279 thousand cubic metres valued at $39.7 million. There were no plantation hardwood logs harvested in this period. The volume of softwood logs harvested was 2.9 million cubic metres valued at $257.6 million.

In 2017–18, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Queensland was $2.6 billion. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2017–18.

In 2016 the Queensland forestry sector employed 9,520 workers (0.45 per cent) of the total employed workforce in Queensland compared with 12,840 (0.63 per cent) in 2011. The number of people employed includes the following categories: forestry and logging, forestry support services, wood product manufacturing and pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing.


ABARES 2016, Land Use of Australia 2010–11, ABARES, Canberra, May.

ABARES 2018, Catchment scale land use of Australia – December 2018, Canberra, December.

ABS 2018, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2017, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 10 January 2019.

ABS 2020a, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, August 2020, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 12 December 2020.

ABS 2020b, Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2018-19, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 29 May 2020.

DEEDI 2009, Prospects for Queensland's primary industries 2009–10, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Brisbane, Queensland.

DEEDI 2011, Annual status report 2011 River and Inshore Beam Trawl Fishery (PDF 244 KB), Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Queensland. 

DNPRSR 2014, Fisheries Resources of Calliope River, Gladstone Central Queensland, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (PDF 6.7MB), Marine Resource Management, Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing, Queensland.  

McCarthy, M 2016, White spot outbreak a ‘wake-up call’ for Australia’s biosecurity system, as prawn farmers claim imports are to blame, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 23 December 2019, accessed 15 October 2019. 

Mobsby, D & Curtotti, R 2019, ABARES annual fisheries outlook 2019, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Department of Agriculture, Canberra, accessed 5 October 2019.

QDAF 2020a, QFish, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane, Queensland.

Last reviewed: 3 August 2021
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