When a state is blessed with a warm, sunny climate, an abundance of beautiful scenery, and a coastline that is the envy of the world, it is hardly surprising that thousands come each year to visit. Indeed, many locals will tell you that Queensland, with its relaxed lifestyle and friendly atmosphere, is the best place in which to live, work, and retire.
This is a State full of extremes. In the far west the Simpson Desert, with its dunes and inhospitable gibber plains gives way to the Channel Country, an area laced with an intricate web of often dry streams that after heavy rain may spill to cover the land like a vast brown sea.
Eastern Queensland’s spine is the Great Dividing Range, a mighty barrier that separates the fertile coastal plain from the vast outback tracts extending to the State’s western border. Stretching from Cape York to the southern border and beyond, the Great Divide comprises a series of high mountains, tablelands, and low rolling hills. Here, rainforest gives way to eucalypt woodland, waterfalls fed by tropical rains tumble over rock faces and escarpments, and boulder-studded streams flow through deep gorges.
The coastline is another world. Washed by the brilliant blue waters of the Coral Sea, long sandy beaches fringed with tropical vegetation edge the shores, broken only by rocky headlands and mangrove forests. Lying off-shore is a multitude of islands and one of the world’s great natural wonders: the Great Barrier Reef.
The second largest State in Australia, Queensland covers an area of more than 1.7 million square kilometres in the north-east corner of the continent. The northern marine boundary, passing within a few kilometres of Papua New Guinea’s coastline, includes the 200-odd islands lying off Cape York Peninsula in the Torres Strait; to the east, it includes all the islands within the Great Barrier Reef.
Until 1859, Queensland was part of New South Wales. The first European settlement, a penal colony, was established at Moreton Bay in 1824 and soon afterwards was moved to the present site of Brisbane — the State’s capital city. By 1839 nearly all the convicts had been returned to Sydney and the district was opened to free settlers.
The Brisbane settlement grew slowly at first; when the area was proclaimed the Colony of Queensland in 1859 the population was 23,520. Today, the State has a population exceeding 4 million — of which nearly half live in the Brisbane-Ipswich urban area.
For the Aborigines — the original inhabitants of the land — many parts of Queensland are ritual grounds of sacred Dreamtime legends, and there are important traditional rock-art sites, particularly on Cape York Peninsula in the north. It was in this area that a race of hunters and gatherers came to the Australian continent some 40,000 years ago, coming in across the Torres Strait when it was dry land during the last ice age.
Just over half of the State lies between the Tropic of Capricorn and 10 degrees south of the Equator. Inland, the summers are hot, but on the coastal plain the temperatures are milder — with far higher humidity. Winters are much drier and delightfully warm, though in the far south, nights can be quite cold with frost appearing on higher ground. Snow falls occasionally in the highlands near the border around Stanthorpe and Wallangarra.
The rainy season falls between December and March-April, and it is during this time that the coast may be lashed by tropical cyclones. Rainfall varies enormously throughout the State, with the heaviest falls on the north-eastern slopes and coast-lands – Tully averages 4550 mm annually and has the reputation of being the wettest town in Australia. Whereas Birdsville in the far west only averages an annual 150 mm – and in drought it might not rain for years.
Agriculture is a major industry. Cattle and sheep graze on the grassy western plains, their drinking water supplied by a myriad bores that tap the vast store of underground water in the Great Artesian Basin. On the fertile tablelands of the Great Divide and the lush coastal plains farms grow a wide variety of produce from cotton to sugar cane, to peanuts, pineapples and a host of other tropical fruit and vegetables. The State is also rich in mineral deposits including bauxite, coal, oil, copper, silver, and gold. Indeed, the discovery of gold in the last century and the subsequent mining in the 1870s-80s did much to establish many of the coastal and inland centres throughout Queensland.
One of Queensland’s most important growth industries is tourism. Not only have overseas visitors discovered this favourable holiday destination, but Australians from other States now come in huge numbers. In winter, thousands flock to coastal caravan parks and holiday flats to exchange chilly southern days for delectably warm, sunny weather.
Apart from the lure of a warm climate, people return many times over to Queensland because there is just so much to do and see. Self-drive holidays are probably the most popular, but for those who do not wish to drive, there is a vast number of conducted tours to choose from. Accommodation ranges from remote bush camps to five-star luxury hotels with every type imaginable in between.
West Papua Freedom from Indonesia colonial
We explore the West Papuan fight for independence from Indonesia criminal regimes.
Source: The project