The Wide Bay Burnett region begins about two hours north of Brisbane and covers an area of about 50,000 square kilometres, including Gympie, Bundaberg, and North and South Burnett. It has the largest population of any region of Queensland, outside the south east corner.
The Wide Bay Burnett’s economy has historically been based on agriculture, timber, heavy manufacturing, mining and fishing. In recent years, this has been supplemented by growth in horticulture, tourism, aviation, advanced manufacturing, aquaculture, food processing, marine, construction and service industries.
The University of Southern Queensland, CQUniversity and the University of the Sunshine Coast all have campuses in the region, offering high quality education to local and international students. The region is home to iconic Australian businesses such as Bundaberg Rum, Bundaberg Sugar, Wide Bay Australia, Jabiru and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks.
The Bundaberg regional economy is most reliant on manufacturing (13.3%), agriculture, forestry and fishing (11.6%), retail trade (8.0%), health and community services (7.4%) and education (6.0%).
Opportunities exist for investment, development and value-adding at the Port of Bundaberg precinct and in the region’s aviation, tourism, health services, professional services, manufacturing, innovation and technology, lifestyle and food-related industries.
- Bruce Highway upgrade and realignment between Cooroy and Curra
- Norwood Coal Mine Project
- Andrew and Lauren Project – UCG and coal to liquids
- Glen Wilga Coal Mine
The region grows and processes a variety of livestock, sugar, fruit, nuts, vegetables, timber and seafood with an established supply of water, sugar mills and meat processing works.
Horticulture is prominent, with significant volumes of citrus produced for local consumption and export. Figures produced by the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries show that horticulture crops in the Bundaberg region have grown to just over A$300 million.
The figures show big increases in the gross value, crop area and production figures of macadamias, avocados and sweet potatoes, as well as rising production values for many horticulture crops. Tomatoes remain the largest vegetable crop, however, macadamia nuts, avocado and sweet potato have shown impressive gains.
The horticultural industry is also a major regional employer, economic driver and contributor to Australia’s food security. The produce grown in the region targets both domestic and international fresh markets as well as supplying a number of food processing and value adding operations.
Significant regional crops
Perennial crops produced in the region include avocado, custard apple, mango, lychee, citrus, passionfruit, macadamia nut, peach, banana, pineapple and nectarine.
Annual crops include tomato, chilli, capsicum, cherry tomato, zucchini, chinese bitter melon, rockmelon, watermelon, sweet potato, herbs, cucumber, okra, egg fruit, button squash, bean, snow pea, potato, sweet corn and pumpkin.
Fisheries and aquaculture
The fishing industry is based on scallops, prawns, spanner crabs, mackerel, mullet and reef fish. It is estimated to be worth about A$37 million with a competitive edge based on the export quality of the region’s fresh and frozen products.
Current markets include local, interstate and export destinations predominantly in Asia and Europe.
Many heavy industry manufacturing businesses operate from the region and enjoy the close proximity to Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast as well as connectivity with mining regions.
Engineering and allied industries
Jabiru Aircraft supply aircraft and aircraft kits, propellers, wheels, brakes and control system components to domestic and international markets. Microair Avionics designs and manufactures aircraft radios, intercoms, radar transponders, altitude encoders and other electronic products for the aviation industry.
Plastic product manufacture and fabrication in all its diversity is well represented in Bundaberg. Local companies demonstrate a high level of innovation in design and supply products to the fishing, agricultural, aviation and recreational industries.