Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of CouncilsEconomic profile
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About the area

Location and boundaries

The FNQROC (Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils) Region is located in the northern-most part of Queensland, between 1,400 and 2,600 kilometres north-west of the Brisbane CBD. The FNQROC Region is bounded by the Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council area and Torres Shire in the north, Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire and the Coral Sea in the east, Townsville City, the Charters Towers Regional Council area, Flinders Shire, Richmond Shire, McKinlay Shire and Cloncurry Shire in the south, and Burke Shire, Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire, Pormpuraaw Aboriginal Shire, Aurukun Shire, Napranum Aboriginal Shire, Mapoon Aboriginal Shire and the Gulf of Carpentaria in the west.

Included areas

The FNQROC Region includes thirteen municipalities: Cairns Regional Council, Carpentaria Shire, Cassowary Coast Regional Council, Cook Shire, Croydon Shire, Douglas Shire, Etheridge Shire, Hinchinbrook Shire, Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire, Mareeba Shire, Tablelands Regional Council, Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire and Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire.

Economic region

Land use

The FNQROC Region includes significant areas of national park and state forest, rural areas and urban areas. The main urban centre is Cairns, with smaller urban areas in the townships of Atherton, Babinda, Cooktown, Croydon, Gordonvale, Ingham, Innisfail, Karumba, Mareeba, Mossman, Normanton and Port Douglas, numerous small villages, and aboriginal communities at Hope Vale, Wujal Wujal and Yarrabah. The Region encompasses a total land area of more than 317,000 square kilometres. Rural land is used largely for cattle grazing, sugar cane farming and banana growing, with some tropical fruit, vegetable, grain, tea and coffee growing and timber production. Fishing and mining are also important industries, along with tourism, with the Region being home to world-heritage rainforests, beaches, tropical islands, coastal ranges and numerous resorts.


The FNQROC Region is served by the Bruce Highway, the Captain Cook Highway, the Kennedy Highway, the Mulligan Highway, the Palmerston Highway, the North Coast railway line, the Port of Cairns, Cairns Airport, various small airports and harbours, and the Gulflander, Savannahlander and Tilt trains.

Settlement history

European settlement dates from 1770 when James Cook beached his ship The Endeavour at Cooktown for repair for seven weeks. Population was minimal until the 1860s and 1870s when numerous townships were established, including Cairns, Cardwell, Ingham, Mossman, Normanton and Port Douglas. The main industries to develop were gold and copper mining, timber-getting and sugar cane production, with some crop growing and cattle and sheep grazing. Population growth took place during the 1880s and 1890s, spurred by gold mining, the opening of the railway line, growth in the sugar cane industry. Cairns became a major port for exporting sugar cane, gold, metals, minerals and agricultural products. Several Aboriginal missions were established in the late 1880s, with these communities becoming Aboriginal Councils in the late 1980s. Expansion continued during the early 1900s in most areas, although the population declined in areas closest to the goldfields (Croydon, Cooktown and Normanton), due to the downturn in gold mining. As mining declined, the main industries became cattle grazing, timber production and sugar cane growing, with some fishing, tobacco growing, and fruit and vegetable growing. The most significant development occurred from the post-war years, particularly between the 1960s and the 1980s, aided by tourism. The population of the Region continued to increase from the early 1990s, rising from about 206,000 in 1991 to about 289,000 in 2016. Most of this growth was in the Cairns Regional Council area.

Indigenous background

The original inhabitants of the FNQROC Region were the Bandjin, Djiru, Ewamian, Girramay, Gkuthaam, Gulnay, Gunggandji, Guugu Yimithirr, Jirrbal, Kukatj, Kuku Yalanji, Kurtijar, Mamu, Nywaigi, Tagalaka, Tjapukai, Walubarra Yidinki, Warakamai and Yidinji Aboriginal people.