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Townsville, Rockhampton, Cairns
3,021,700 sq km
Did you know?
Gold Coast, a major tourist city in Queensland, has one of the highest unemployement rate in Australia. (And why not? Who doesn't want to retire in comfort?)
Statewide, grass is the dominant vegetation and about two thirds of the state is occupied by the pastoral western plains. Dominating the coastline on the east is well-watered land with dense rain forests. Most of the population is concentrated in the coastal cities and towns which include the capital Brisbane in the south. Cape Yorke Peninsula, the rugged northern tip, is the world's largest wilderness area.
The Great Dividing Range, a series of mountains and plateaus that runs the entire length of the state, and associated tablelands stretch from Cape Yorke Peninsula south to the New South Wales border. Queensland's highest peak is Mount Bartle Frere (1611m) near Cairns.
Queensland's offshore frontiers encompass the islands of Torres Strait to the north and those of the Great Barrier Reef along the east coast. Much of the eastern coastline is sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef, a tourist attraction that has the largest known coral deposits in the world.
Inland days are warm and sunny and the nights cold and frosty. Queensland's wet season lasts from December to March, when monsoons sweep down from Asia and cyclones are at their peak.
Along the coast rainfall is heavy, averaging more than 1000 mm annually, and up to 4000 mm in the north. Yet places like Mt Isa and the interior are dry and can receive less than 500 mm a year. Rainfall dwindles in the south-west corner, averaging 200 mm.
A year after John Oxly discovered the Brisbane River in 1823, the British established a penal settlement at Moreton Bay but by 1839 the this settlement was abandoned and grazers began to settle in the surrounding districts. The population and economy grew quickly and strongly during the late 1850s early 1860s, being further stimulated by the discovery of gold at Gympie and throughout the state for the next couple of decades.
The western migration of many farmers in the 1860s and '70s quickly populated the interior, but droughts brought economic failure to many of these pioneers.Cotton and sugar production became important during the 1860s, relying on the Kanaka labour. Kanakas were people kidnapped from the South Pacific Islands and brought to Australia and work extremely hard and live in terrible conditions that were simply unacceptable.
In 1859 Queensland was declared a separate colony from New South Wales and in 1901 Queensland became a state of the Commonwealth of Australia.