The Wide Bay–Burnett region begins about 2 hours north of Brisbane and covers an area of about 50,000km2, including Gympie, Bundaberg, and North and South Burnett.1

Economy and infrastructure

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 region is home to iconic Australian businesses such as Bundaberg Rum, Bundaberg Sugar, Auswide Bank, Jabiru and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks.

The Bundaberg regional economy comprises health and community services (15.8% of the regional economy), retail trade (11.4%), agriculture, forestry and fishing (9.6%) and manufacturing (9.3%).2

Located 19km downstream from the City of Bundaberg, the Port of Bundaberg is serviced by 2 main wharves and is a vital hub for sugar exports.

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. Economic growth could also be leveraged through the region’s physical connection to the development of the Surat Basin’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal production.

Industry growth areas

Food and agribusiness

The region grows and processes a variety of livestock, sugar, fruit, nuts, vegetables, timber and seafood with well-established sugar mills and meat processing works.

Horticulture is a prominent industry and a major economic driver in the region, with significant volumes of perennial and annual crops produced for domestic consumption and export. Produce includes citrus, tomatoes, macadamias, avocados and sweet potatoes and there is a growing opportunity for food processing and value-adding operations.

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.

There are a number of beverage manufacturers including juice, spirits, craft beer as well as established wineries in the South Burnett area.

Fisheries and aquaculture

The multi-million dollar fishing industry includes export quality fresh and frozen scallops, prawns, spanner crabs, mackerel, mullet and reef fish, providing a competitive edge.3

The industry’s markets include local and interstate destinations and international markets, predominantly Asia and Europe.

Manufacturing

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 and the Wide Bay Military Training Area near Tin Can Bay.

Jabiru Aircraft supplies 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.

Plastics manufacturing and fabrication is well represented in Bundaberg, and local companies demonstrate a high level of innovation in design and supply products to the fishing, agricultural, aviation and recreational industries.

Tourism

Wide Bay–Burnett is known as Australia’s whale watching capital and has a robust tourism industry that capitalises on the natural beauty of the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef and Fraser Island, 169 Queensland Heritage sites, and a host of outdoor and eco-tourism experiences, including the Mon Repos Turtle Centre.

International education and training

International education and training is an important emerging sector for Wide Bay–Burnett with more than 4,000 international students based there annually.4 The University of Southern Queensland, Central Queensland University and the University of the Sunshine Coast all have campuses in the region.

International education and training interests in the region are serviced by the Study Wide Bay Burnett regional study cluster supported by TIQ.

Trade and investment services

Wide Bay–Burnett is serviced by TIQ’s Bundaberg Office.

References

1Queensland Government Statistician’s Office, 2016, ‘Queensland Regional Profiles – SA4 (Wide Bay)’, https://statistics.qgso.qld.gov.au/qld-regional-profiles, accessed July 2020.

2Bundaberg Regional Council, 2019, ‘Bundaberg Regional Council – Employment by industry (Total) – National Economics (NIEIR) – Modelled series’, https://economy.id.com.au/bundaberg/employment-by-industry, accessed July 2020.

3Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, May 2017, ‘Regional Jobs and Investment Packages – Wide Bay Burnett Region Local Investment Plan’, https://www.business.gov.au/-/media/Grants-and-programs/RJIP/Regional-Jobs-and-Investment-Packages-Local-Investment-Plan-Wide-Bay-Burnett-PDF.pdf?la=en&hash=A5232E736DA7F883B66A586ABB503DF8, accessed July 2020.

4Deloitte Access Economics, Sept 2018, ‘Building the future trade potential of the Wide Bay Burnett’, https://www.investbundaberg.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Wide_Bay_Burnett_Future_Trade_and_Infrastructure_Study_-_Final_Report_A3825201.pdf, accessed July 2020.