The RDA Wide Bay Burnett Region is located in south-east Queensland, between 160 and 350 kilometres north of the Brisbane CBD. The RDA Wide Bay Burnett Region is bounded by the Gladstone Regional Council area in the north, the Coral Sea in the north-east and east, Noosa Shire, the Sunshine Coast Council area, the Somerset Regional Council area and the Toowoomba Regional Council area in the south, and the Western Downs Regional Council area and Banana Shire in the west.
The RDA Wide Bay Burnett Region includes six municipalities: the Bundaberg Regional Council, Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire, the Fraser Coast Regional Council, the Gympie Regional Council, the North Burnett Regional Council and the South Burnett Regional Council.
The RDA Wide Bay Burnett Region is predominantly rural, with rural-residential, residential, commercial and industrial land use in numerous urban centres and small townships. The main urban centres are Bundaberg, Gayndah, Gympie, Hervey Bay, Kingaroy and Maryborough, with numerous smaller townships and villages, and an aboriginal community at Cherbourg. The Region encompasses a total land area of about 48,600 square kilometres. Rural land is used largely for forestry, agriculture and horticulture, particularly sugar cane, fruit, vegetable, cereal and crop growing and cattle grazing. Tourism is also an important industry, particularly along the coast. The Region is home to a gold mine near Mount Perry, a Siltstone quarry at Eidsvold, and the Meandu Coal Mine and power stations at Tarong.
The original inhabitants of the RDA Wide Bay Burnett Region were the Butchulla, Gubbi Gubbi (or Kabi Kabi) and Wakka Wakka Aboriginal people.
European settlement dates from the 1840s, with land used mainly for timber-getting, grazing and farming. Population was minimal until gold was discovered in the 1860s. Growth took place from the late 1800s into the early 1900s, spurred by gold and copper mining, the opening of railway lines and the establishment of sugar cane growing. Population growth resumed from the 1950s, aided by tourism, with substantial growth in the townships of Hervey Bay and Maryborough during the 1970s and 1980s. The population of the Region increased from the 1990s, rising from about 191,000 in 1991 to over 291,000 in 2016. Most of this growth was in the Fraser Coast Regional Council area (particularly in Hervey Bay) and the Bundaberg Regional Council area, and to a lesser extent, in the Gympie Regional Council area. Growth is expected to continue.
Major features of the Region include the Great Barrier Reef, Great Sandy Marine Park, numerous National Parks (Auburn River, Beninbi, Bingera, Bulburin, Bunya Mountains, Burrum Coast, Cania Gorge, Cherbourg, Coalstoun Lakes, Good Night Scrub, Great Sandy, Littabella, Mount Walsh, Mt Bauple (Scientific), Mudlo, Nour Nour, Poona, Tarong, Woondum and Woowoonga), Mouth of Baffle Creek Conservation Park, Mouth of Kolan River Conservation Park, various Regional Parks (Barubbra Island, Baywulla Creek, Boat Mountain, Bottle Creek, Bullyard, Cherbourg, Gurgeena, Jack Smith Scrub, Mon Repos, Reinke Scrub and Tolderodden), the Great Sandy Strait, Coomba Falls, Wongi Waterholes, The Mystery Craters, Cooloola Beach, Rainbow Beach, numerous other beaches, Fraser Island, Bjelke-Petersen Dam (Lake Barambah), Boondooma Dam, Gordonbrook Dam, Lake Monduran (Fred Haigh Dam), Paradise Dam, Wuruma Dam, Lake Cania, Lake Lenthall, the Burnett River, the Elliott River, the Mary River, numerous state forests, Mon Repos Turtle Centre, Barnacles Dolphin Centre, RM Williams Australian Bush Learning Centre, The Big Orange, Bundaberg Rum Distillery, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, Amandine Lavender, The Lavender Farm at Pottique, Snakes Downunder Reptile Park & Zoo, Reef World Aquarium, Tjuringa Emu Farm, Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary, Kingaroy Observatory, Bundaberg Botanic Gardens, whale watching tours, Fraser Island Ferry and Barges, Australian Sugar Cane Railway, Mary Valley Heritage Railway (the Valley Rattler), Bundaberg Port Marina, Wide Bay Military Training Area, the Tarong Power Stations, South Burnett Energy Centre, Mt Rawdon Gold Mine, Central Queensland University (Bundaberg Campus), TAFE Queensland East Coast (Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Gympie and Maryborough Campuses), TAFE Queensland South West (Kingaroy and Nurunderi Campuses), University of Southern Queensland (Fraser Coast Campus), University of the Sunshine Coast (Gympie Campus), the Bundaberg CBD, the Gympie Town Centre, the Hervey Bay CBD, Kingaroy Shoppingworld, the Maryborough CBD, and numerous golf clubs, museums, art galleries, wineries, parks and hospitals.
The RDA Wide Bay Burnett Region is served by the Bruce Highway, the Bunya Highway, the Burnett Highway, the D’Aguilar HIghway, the Isis Highway, the Wide Bay Highway, Bundaberg Regional Airport, Fraser Coast Airport (Hervey Bay and Maryborough), the Port of Bundaberg, and the North Coast, Spirit of Queensland, Spirit of the Outback and Tilt Train railway lines.
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