Savanna Explorer > North East Queensland

North East Queensland

Landscape and industries | ClimateBiogeographic regions | Population | Land use |

Landscape and industries

This region covers the savanna country in north east Queensland, lying inland from Cooktown in the north to Rockhampton in the south. It covers around 310,000 square kilometres and does not include the rainforest areas of the wet tropics and the central Mackay coast. Land use is dominated by pastoralism and includes major beef cattle areas in its southern parts. It is the most populous of the eight tropical savanna regions with many towns including Townsville, Chillagoe, Charters Towers, and Emerald.


The North East Queensland region of the tropical savannas has high rainfall summers and drier winters and lies in a tropical climatic zone with its southern extent adjacent to the sub-tropics.Hot, summer days in January reach an average temperature of 33ºC to 36ºC.
Rainfall is more intense in summer than winter and extensive falls can occur in association with the passage of tropical cyclones across the coast (Gentilli 1972). Annual average totals diminish from north to south and with distance from the coast and range from 1200 mm to as low as 400 mm in the south-west. Drought conditions occur more frequently inland but the whole area has a moderate to high variability in rainfall. In July the average overnight minimum temperatures are between 9ºC and 18ºC.

Biogeographic regions

This area is defined by the the biogeographic regions Einasleigh Uplands, Desert Uplands and Brigalow Belt North.

For more information on these biogeographic regions go to: ERIN's Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation of Australia (IBRA), see website links this page. 


 Total Population

 Indigenous Population




Charters Towers















Table is based on Urban Centres and Localities figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001 Census.


Population snapshot

The population figures at right are based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics census of 2001 which is conducted in early August.  These more standardised Urban Centres and Localities figures replace earlier ones on this site based on Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) and Census Collection Districts.

The 2001 Census found that North-East Queensland was the most populous region in the tropical savannas with over 300,000 people. The region also has the largest city in the tropical savannas in Townsville-Thuringowa.  Because of the region's productive crops and pastures many other reasonably sized towns are found throughout north east Queensland—their populations as found in the 2001 Census are listed in the table.

Land use

Pastoralism is by far the most dominant land use throughout the region, with small areas of nature reserve and vacant crown land.