Far North Queensland is the northern most part of the state of Queensland, stretching from the city of Cairns north to the Torres Strait.

Far North Queensland is made up of four regions based on local government boundaries including:

  • The Wet Tropics – Hinchinbrook, Cassowary Coast, Cairns, Atherton Tablelands
  • The Gulf – Croydon, Etheridge, Carpentaria, Mornington, Burke
  • and Cape York – Cook, Aurukun and Torres.

Cairns

Cairns is at the heart of Far North Queensland and is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and World Heritage rainforests. It is 348 km north of Townsville with a tropical climate and high rainfall.

It is a multicultural society, known for its adventure activities, Coral Sea and lush rainforests.

Cairns services 2,400km of Far North Queensland’s coastline – to the tip of Cape York Peninsula, and around the Golf of Carpentaria to the Northern Territory border.

Air transport links to export markets are through the Cairns International Airport to Japan, Hong Kong, China (seasonally) and Papua New Guinea, and through other ports via an extensive domestic aviation network.

Raw sugar is shipped from Cairns to world markets, while live cattle and mineral ore are sent through smaller regional ports.

Economy

Tropical North Queensland covers an enormous geographic and economically-diverse area. In addition to its natural attractions, it is a major agricultural region, with a sugar bulk-loading shipping terminal, marine fishing base and a range of agricultural services.

Cairns is the administrative and health services base for the Far North region. Its close proximity and air access to Papua New Guinea attracts companies who want to establish major projects there.

Regional strengths

Agriculture

Agriculture is one of the north’s largest sectors, contributing A$863 million to the regional economy.

Leading agricultural export products include raw sugar, live cattle, horticulture (mangoes, avocadoes, lychees and coffee) and tropical pasture seed. Peanuts and macadamias are sent to South East Queensland for processing and export. Some vegetables like potatoes are exported to Papua New Guinea.

A large fishing industry supplies Asian and domestic markets with fresh and frozen product, while the aquaculture sector produces mainly prawns, barramundi and red claw for local markets.

A small food manufacturing sector produces mostly dried tropical fruits, a large range of fruit wines and liqueurs, Australian native fruit condiments, vanilla bean and flavoured products and specialty cheeses.

Marine

Cairns is home to a large and diverse marine sector made up of fishing and reef fleets, small craft and super yachts, cargo vessels and cruise liners.

Cairns offers ship repair services as well as ancillary services that support and complement each other including ship building, maintenance, training and coastal shipping.

Aviation

The aviation industry has grown steadily over the past 20 years and continues to demonstrate strong growth, enhanced by the tourism industry. To support this, there are many supply chain industries that include flight catering, engineering, trucking, logistics and air transport.

Equipment installation, maintenance and training have also been developed to service the industry. Cairns has the only recognised service facility for Bombardier’s Dash 8 Q-Series aircraft in the Southern Hemisphere and boasts the largest avionics facility in Australia. The major training institution for aircraft engineers and technical support staff is the Cairns Aviation Skills Centre.

Education

The Cairns region boasts the world-renowned James Cook University, CQ University’s Cairns Distance Education Study Centre, and the state-of-the-art TAFE North.

The diversity of education options is immense, with more than 140 schools, while the training capability of the region spans the marine, aviation, mining, tourism and hospitality sectors.

Construction

The Cairns region has a diverse and highly capable building and construction sector, and it is one of the largest industry employers in Cairns.

There are approximately 3,000 businesses in the region involved in the construction industry with environmental sustainability, tropical design and liveability are driving building solutions in the region.

Mining

The mining industry contributes A$860 million to the regional economy. The North West Queensland minerals province and nearby Papua New Guinea have attracted a growing cluster of mining services to the region.

Cairns is an ideal engineering and manufacturing hub for the booming resource sector in the Oceania-Australasia region. The engineering and steel fabrication sector provides specialist metal products, machinery and equipment manufacturing capabilities for a diverse range of industries.

Relevant library resources Complete library

Market Profile Far North Queensland

December 13, 2016

Far North Queensland encompasses Australia’s north-eastern corner west to the Northern Territory border. Its four regions are known as: The Wet Tropics; The Atherton Tablelands; The Gulf; Cape York. The region is renowned for its sugar, beef, fishing, fruit and tourism industries.

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