Burdekin Shire

About the area

Key Statistics


Burdekin Shire is located in the Dry Tropics Region of North Queensland, about 80 kilometres south-east of the Townsville CBD, 400 kilometres south-east of the Cairns CBD, and about 1,300 kilometres north-west of the Brisbane CBD. Burdekin Shire is bounded by the Great Barrier Reef in the north and north-east, the Whitsunday Regional Council area in the south-east, the Charters Towers Regional Council area in the south-west, and Townsville City in the north-west.

Included Areas

Burdekin Shire includes the localities of Airdmillan, Airville, Alva, Ayr, Barratta, Brandon, Carstairs, Clare, Colevale, Cromarty, Dalbeg, Eight Mile Creek, Fredericksfield, Giru, Groper Creek, Home Hill, Horseshoe Lagoon, Inkerman, Jarvisfield, Jerona, Kirknie, Majors Creek (part), McDesme, Millaroo, Mona Park, Mount Kelly, Mount Surround, Mulgrave, Osborne, Rangemore, Rita Island, Shirbourne, Swans Lagoon, Upper Haughton, Wangaratta and Wunjunga.

Land Use

Burdekin Shire is a predominantly rural area. The main township is Ayr, with a smaller township at Home Hill, and small settlements at Airville, Alva, Brandon, Clare, Fredericksfield, Giru, Inkerman, Jarvisfield, McDesme, Millaroo, Mount Kelly and Osborne. The Shire encompasses a total land area of about 5,060 square kilometres. Rural land is used mainly for agriculture, particularly sugar cane farming, with some fruit and vegetable growing and cattle grazing. Fishing is also an important industry.

Name Origin

Burdekin Shire is named after the Burdekin River, which was thought to be named after Mary Ann or Thomas Burdekin, who provided financial support for Ludwig Leichhardt’s 1844 expedition to northern Australia.

Indigenous Meaning

The original inhabitants of Burdekin Shire were the Bindal and Juru Aboriginal people.


European settlement dates from the early 1860s, with land used mainly for pastoral purposes, with sugar growing from the 1880s. The townships of Ayr and Brandon were established in the early 1880s. Growth took place during the late 1800s and early 1900s as other small townships were established and the railway line from Townsville to Ayr opened. The population grew from about 3,300 in 1911 to about 12,000 in 1933, and then to 15,000 in 1954. Growth continued from the post-war years, with the population rising to 16,800 in 1961 and then to 18,500 in 1981. Burdekin Falls Dam was constructed in 1984, providing extra water for irrigation. From the mid 1990s the population generally declined slightly, falling from nearly 19,000 in 1996 to about 17,400 in 2016.

Major Features

Major features of Burdekin Shire include Bowling Green Bay National Park, Horseshoe Lagoon Conservation Park, the Burdekin River, Burdekin Falls Dam, Lynch’s Beach (Alva Beach), Beachmount Beach, Ayr Nature Display, Burdekin Theatre, Ayr Golf Club, TAFE Queensland North (Burdekin Campus), Queensland Agricultural Training College (Ayr Training Hub) and Ayr Showgrounds.


Burdekin Shire is served by the Bruce Highway and the Spirit of Queensland train.

Burdekin Shire Council

economic profile