The RDA Darling Downs and South West Region is located in south-east and south-west Queensland, between 125 and 1,000 kilometres west of the Brisbane CBD. The RDA Darling Downs and South West Region is bounded by Barcoo Shire, the Longreach Regional Council area, the Blackall-Tambo Regional Council area, the Central Highlands Regional Council area, Banana Shire and the North Burnett Regional Council area in the north, the South Burnett Regional Council area, the Somerset Regional Council area, the Lockyer Valley Regional Council area and the Scenic Rim Regional Council area in the east, the New South Wales border in the south, and the South Australian border in the west.
The RDA Darling Downs and South West Region includes ten municipalities: Balonne Shire, Bulloo Shire, the Goondiwindi Regional Council area, the Maranoa Regional Council area, Murweh Shire, Paroo Shire, Quilpie Shire, the Southern Downs Regional Council area, the Toowoomba Regional Council area and the Western Downs Regional Council area.
The RDA Darling Downs and South West Region is predominantly rural. The main urban centre is Toowoomba, with small townships at Charleville, Cunnamulla, Dalby, Goondiwindi, Roma, St George, Stanthorpe and Warwick. The Region is also home to numerous smaller townships, including Allora, Amby, Augathella, Bell, Bollon, Chinchilla, Clifton, Crows Nest, Dirranbandi, Eulo, Goombungee, Hebel, Inglewood, Injune, Jackson, Jandowae, Killerney, Miles, Milmerran, Mitchell, Morven, Mungallala, Mungindi, Oakey, Pittsworth, Quilpie, Surat, Tara, Texas, Thallon, Thargomindah, Wallangarra, Wallumbilla, Wandoan, Wyandra, Yangan, Yarraman, Yowah and Yuleba. The Region encompasses a total land area of nearly 400,000 square kilometres. Rural land is used largely for agriculture (particularly sheep and cattle grazing, and cotton and wheat growing), with some fruit and vegetable growing. Other important industries include oil mining and gas production, opal mining, forestry and viticulture.
The original inhabitants of the RDA Darling Downs and South West Region were various Aboriginal tribes.
European settlement dates from the 1830s, with land used mainly for sheep and cattle grazing. Other industries developed later, including grain growing and timber milling. Population was minimal until the 1880s. Growth took place during the late 1800s and into the early 1900s, when numerous townships were established, spurred by mining and the opening of railway lines. Substantial growth took place from the post-war years, particularly in and around Toowoomba. From the 1960s to the 1980s the population declined in many of the rural and remote areas. The population of the Region increased from the 1990s, rising from about 205,000 in 1991 to about 254,000 in 2011. Most of this growth has been in the areas closest to Brisbane - in the Toowoomba Regional Council area, and to a lesser extent in the Western Downs Regional Council area and the Southern Downs Regional Council area. Recent growth is largely a result of urban expansion around Toowoomba, and expansion in gas and oil exploration and mining in many of the rural areas.
Major features of the Region include numerous National Parks (Alton, Bendidee, Bunya Mountains, Carnarvon, Chesterton Range, Crows Nest, Culgoa Floodplain, Currawinya, Erringibba, Expedition, Girraween, Hell Hole Gorge, Idalia, Lake Bindegolly, Main Range, Mariala, Narkoola, Ravensbourne, Southwood, Sundown, The Palms, Thrushton, Tregola and Wondul Range), several Conservation Parks (Irongate, Lake Broadwater, Morven and Mount Dumaresq), the Toowoomba CBD, the Charleville township, Chinchilla Central Shopping Centre, Dalby Shoppingworld, the Goondiwindi township, the Roma township, the St George township, the Warwick CBD, numerous hospitals (Baillie Henderson, Charleville, Chinchilla, Cunnamulla, Dalby, Dirranbandi, Goondiwindi, Miles, Mungindi, Roma, St Andrew’s Toowoomba, St George, Stanthorpe, Tara, St Vincent’s, Thargomindah, Toowoomba Base and Warwick), Charleville Royal Flying Doctor Service Base, TAFE Queensland South West (Chinchilla, Dalby, Roma, Toowoomba and Warwick Campuses), University of Southern Queensland (Toowoomba Campus, Queensland College of Wine Tourism and USQ Hub@Stanthorpe), Southern Downs Steam Railway, Darling Downs Zoo, Eulo Belle Arts and Opal Centre, Cunnamulla Fella Centre, Charleville Cosmos Centre and Observatory, The Big Rig, Cobb & Co. Changing Station, Yowah Artesian Bore Baths, Mitchell Great Artesian Spa, Jondaryan Woolshed, Oakey Army Aviation Centre, Australian Rodeo Heritage Centre, Glengallen Homestead & Heritage Centre, Highfields Pioneer Village, Pittsworth Pioneer Historical Village, Yarraman Heritage Centre, Echo Valley Motor Sports Complex, Dalby Regional Saleyards, Roma Saleyards, various dams (Beardmore, Connolly, Cooby Creek, Coolamunda, Glenlyon, Leslie, Perseverance and Storm King), numerous golf clubs, racecourses, showgrounds, galleries, museums, parks, lakes, rivers and wineries, Kogan Creek Power Station, Millmerran Power Station, Thargomindah Hydro Power Plant, Ballera Gas Centre, Yowah opal fields, numerous mines and oil fields and various state forests.
The RDA Darling Downs and South West Region is served by the Balonne Highway, the Barwon Highway, the Carnarvon Highway, the Castlereagh Highway, the Cunningham Highway, the Daguilar Highway, the Gore Highway, the Landsborough Highway, the Leichhardt Highway, the Mitchell Highway, the Moonie Highway, the New England Highway, the Newell Highway, the Warrego Highway, the Westlander train and Toowoomba Airport.
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