North Queensland

The North Queensland region encompasses five major regional centres: Burdekin, Charters Towers, Hinchinbrook, Palm Island and Townsville. The region contributes over $16.5 billion annually to the Queensland economy and is home to nearly 240,000 people. The region has one of the most diverse economic bases in Australia and enjoys a stunning natural environment of reef, rain forest and outback, which, provide tourism growth opportunities and an attractive lifestyle for its residents.

The region is strategically positioned to provide goods and services via the extensive logistics network in the region for rail, road, sea and air. The network enables over $9 billion per annum of goods and services to be exported domestically and internationally.

Our North Queensland regional office (NQRO) is located in Townsville. It has two dedicated hubs, that are actively developing the manufacturing industry, defence supply, and service industry.


236,441 (2018) – expected to increase to 304,494 by 2036. (Qld Government SA4)


Data provided is a three-month moving average (Ref - ABS Data SA1 Report RM1 as at Sept 2019).

  • employment 111,000 (participation rate 65.5%)
  • unemployment 8.9%
  • youth unemployment 17.3%


  • industry diversity – all 19 industry sectors represented with over 16,000 businesses operating in the region. GRP for the region is $16.7 billion (Ref REMPLAN 2018 R2)
  • Townsville North Queensland business confidence is positive. The positive confidence result is across the broad section of businesses community encompassing all industries
  • largest general cargo and container port in northern Australia. The port is also Australia’s leading exporter of zinc, lead, sugar, fertiliser and molasses
  • largest Australian defence base located in Townsville
  • health and knowledge centre for North Queensland with world leading research centres in tropical health and marine science
  • two universities located in Townsville - JCU and CQU
  • headquarters for the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Great Barrier Reef marine park authority, and leading research organisation CSIRO
  • education centre of North Queensland with a number of high-quality boarding and public schools
  • 300+ days of sunshine a year
  • medium house prices affordable
  • two world-class refineries based in Townsville with Sun Metals undergoing an expansion
  • logistic hub for North Queensland roads and rail
  • international and domestic airport
  • quality and significant quantity of industrial land available
  • Townsville is a large exporter of cattle and has a meat processing facility
  • tourism industry growing due to increased visitor numbers
  • mining and industry commercial centre for North Queensland
  • home to two successful national sporting teams – North Queensland Cowboys and Townsville Fire
  • diverse natural environment with wet tropics, dry tropics, reef and outback all represented in the region
  • large agricultural irrigation area producing sugar cane and various agricultural and horticulture products
  • large aquaculture industry in region and expanding


Reference: REMPLAN 19 industry sectors 2018 R2.

Top five output industries – total regional output $32.47 billion

  • manufacturing
  • public administration and safety
  • construction
  • rental, hiring and real estate services
  • health care and social assistance

Top five employment industries – total regional employment 103,658 jobs

  • health care and social assistance
  • public administration and safety
  • education and training
  • retail trade
  • construction

Top five value add industries – total regional value add $15.56 billion

  • public administration and safety
  • rental, hiring and real estate services
  • health care and social assistance
  • construction
  • education and training

Significant growth industries over last 3 years based on GRP (REMPLAN 45 industry sectors 2015 R1 vs 2018 R2)

  • agriculture, forestry & fishing support services
  • transport support services & storage
  • defence
  • education and training
  • construction services
  • residential care & social assistance services
  • administration & support services

Key projects

  • Genex Kidston project – solar, hydro and wind power generation
  • Port of Townsville expansion - construction of a new deep-water outer harbour, six additional berths in new harbour, deepening and widening of existing approach channels
  • Haughton river floodplain upgrade project (Bruce Highway)

Last updated: 24 Mar 2021