Central West Queensland runs along the Tropic of Capricorn from Rockhampton on the east coast to the border with the Northern Territory in the west. Renowned for its wide, open skies and breathtaking landscapes, the region includes the Simpson Desert and 6 other national park areas.

Central West Queensland has a strong economic outlook with industry strengths in mining and gas, food and agribusiness, vocational and tertiary education, tourism and manufacturing.

The region’s largest city, Rockhampton, is a gateway to the mining and agricultural industries that operate in Western Queensland.

Gladstone is a hub for Queensland’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry, which has driven growth in the region in recent years.

Economy and infrastructure

Traditionally, the 2 leading industries of Central West Queensland have been mining and agriculture, while there are also substantial manufacturing and tourism sectors. Recently, there has been significant growth in service industries with large employment growth expected in education and training and professional, scientific and technical services.

The region is serviced by:

  • major highways
  • a long-distance passenger rail service from Brisbane to Longreach
  • 6 airports at Longreach, Winton, Windorah, Barcaldine, Aramac and Blackall
  • 2 ports, including Gladstone’s natural deep-water port, which is Queensland’s largest multi-modal port.

Industry growth areas

Food and agribusiness

The Central West is home to a multi-million dollar agriculture industry that includes beef, cotton, grain and fruit production.1

The beef industry is the region’s dominant agricultural industry and is a significant contributor to local economies as well as Queensland’s exports.

The region is home to 2 of Australia’s largest beef processing plants and Queensland’s largest livestock exchange. Rockhampton is also known as the beef capital of Australia and hosts Australia’s national beef expo, Beef Australia, every 3 years. Other high-quality livestock includes poultry, sheep and lambs.

The region produces significant amounts of cotton, broadacre crops, fruit, nuts and vegetables. Its niche horticulture producers service the growing international demand for safe and clean premium products. The town of Emerald hosts Ag-Grow, one of the most successful marketing events for businesses wishing to access opportunities throughout the region.

With its wide-open spaces, the region is becoming increasingly well known for its drone-testing opportunities, providing innovations for use in agriculture and other sectors.

Continued expansion of the agriculture industry will see increased demand for the development of education, training and infrastructure projects. Opportunities also exist for foreign direct investment into the region to add further value to the sector.

Mining and resources

The mining and resource sector is a large part of the region’s export industry and home to a large portion of the world’s lead and zinc resources, as well as large reserves in silver, copper and gold.

Proximity to the Bowen, Surat and Galilee basins and established freight and logistics infrastructure make Central Queensland a major producer of coal and gas.2

Opportunities exist for foreign direct investment to add further value to the sector, help develop new activities and expand the mineral corridor. Renewable energy projects represent particularly strong opportunities, with potential to create jobs and support energy security.


Central Queensland has a significant tourism industry that capitalises on the natural beauty of the southern Great Barrier Reef, Great Keppel Island and the Sandstone Wilderness which is home to unique sandstone gorges and significant Aboriginal art sites.

Trade and investment services

Central West Queensland is serviced by TIQ’s Rockhampton Office.


1, 2Queensland Government Department of State Development, Tourism and Innovation, 2019, ‘Strengthening Mackay Isaac Whitsunday’ (note: mentions Bowen and Galilee basins), https://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/regions/queensland/mackay-isaac-whitsunday.html, accessed July 2020.