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 November 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 116,400 people were employed in the Central Queensland region. The region accounts for 5 per cent of total employment in Queensland and 18 per cent of all people employed in the Queensland agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector was the largest employment sector with 14,000 people representing 12 per cent of the region's workforce. Health care and social assistance was the second largest employment sector with 13,100 people, followed by education and training with 12,000 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were construction; accommodation and food services; and retail trade.

Employment profile, Central Queensland, November 2019
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 2019

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the Central Queensland region was $1.7 billion, which was 13 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Queensland ($13 billion).

The most important commodities in the Central Queensland region based on the gross value of agricultural production were cattle and calves ($1.1 billion), followed by cotton ($259 million) and sorghum ($52 million). These commodities together contributed 83 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

Value of agricultural production, Central Queensland region, 2017–18
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 2019

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2017–18 there were 2,227 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, 2017–18

Industry classification

Central Queensland region


Number of farms

% of Region

Number of farms

Contribution of region to state total %

Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)     1,752 78.7      8,288 21.1
Other Grain Growing        130 5.8          985 13.2
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming        111 5.0          821 13.5
Cotton Growing           53 2.4          347 15.2
Horse Farming           40 1.8          346 11.5
Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing           37 1.7          761 4.9
Other Crop Growing nec           26 1.2          238 11.1
Other           78 3.5      5,562 1.4
Total agriculture     2,227 100    17,348 12.8

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. nec Not elsewhere classified.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2019

Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (1,752 farms) were the most common, accounting for 79 per cent of all farms in the Central Queensland region, and 21 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 32 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 2017–18. In comparison, 23 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 69 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Central Queensland region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Central Queensland region, 2017–18
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 2017–18 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 2019

Farm financial performance

Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, diary and vegetable farms in Queensland.

Fisheries sector

Gladstone is a key fishing port in the Central Queensland region, for both commercial and recreational fishing. The East Coast Trawl Fishery, which is the largest of Queensland's commercial fisheries, operates in the region. The fishery targets mostly prawns, primarily king, endeavour and red spot king prawns, which are caught mainly in the central Queensland region. The fishery also harvests bugs, squid, scallops, bugs and other species.

The proportion of residents in the Central Queensland Hinterland region that fish at least once each year was one of the highest in Queensland with 26 per cent (QDAF 2015). Residents of the region mainly fish in coastal waters and adjacent reefs within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park near Rockhampton and Gladstone, and the estuaries and freshwater reaches of the central coast catchment. In the central coast catchment there is fishing in estuaries and freshwater reaches of rivers for mud crab, bream, whiting and barramundi. Boat fishers in this region catch cod, sweetlips, red throat emperor and a variety of other reef species. Gladstone harbour is also an area for recreational and charter activities.

In 2015–16 the total gross value of Queensland's fisheries production was $291.1 million, a decrease of 1 per cent ($2.1 million) from 2014–15. Queensland contributed 10 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 60 per cent ($175.9 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 40 per cent ($118.3 million).

Queensland's wild-catch fisheries sector provides a range of fisheries products. The highest contribution being from prawns, which account for 36 per cent of the total value of wild-catch fisheries production with a value of $62.7 million, followed by coral trout (15 per cent; $26.8 million) and crabs (14 per cent; $24.2 million). Over the last decade the real value of Queensland's wild-caught fisheries products has reduced by 37 per cent. Prawns, snapper and shark, showed the largest decline in the value of production over the past decade, reducing by 35 per cent, 77 per cent and 66 per cent respectively. Competition from imported prawns in the domestic market has also placed significant downward pressure on prices in recent years.

The value of Queensland's aquaculture production has increased by 4 per cent in 2015–16 to $118.3 million. Prawn and barramundi farming account for the largest share of production by value, with prawns accounting for 68 per cent, and $80.5 million of production, followed by barramundi (25 per cent; $29.3 million).

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 tuna) and the Coral Sea Fishery.

In 2015–16, Queensland's fisheries product exports were valued at $199.6 million. The main export products include live and fresh, chilled or frozen fish, prawns and rock lobster. Hong Kong, Japan and the United States are the major destinations for Queensland fisheries exports, accounting for 42 per cent, 17 per cent and 14 per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include China (7 per cent) and Vietnam (4 per cent).

Recreational fishing is popular in Queensland. The results of the 2013–14 state wide and regional recreational fishing survey report that recreational fishing continues to be a popular activity; however the participation rate has dropped from 17 per cent in 2010 to 15 per cent in 2013. In the 12 months prior to November 2013 approximately 700 000 Queenslanders went recreational fishing (QDAF 2015). Total expenditure in the sector is 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 and Australia. Popular target species include crabs, prawns and a range of finfish species including cods and groupers, coral trout, redthroat emperor, rosy snapper, and mackerel. For freshwater activity some key species caught include barramundi, eels, silver perch, and yabby and blueclaw crayfish.

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 2019a Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, November 2019, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 15 January 2020.

ABS 2019b Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2017-18, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 15 May 2019.

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

QDAF 2015, Statewide recreational Fishing Surveys, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane, Queensland.

Last reviewed: 22 January 2020
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