More than half the state lies in the tropics yet the state has vast differences from the east to the west. In the north-west rises the rugged Selwyn Range whilst in the south-west clay pans and red sand dunes mark the edge of the Simpson Desert. Rivers are sparse because of the low rainfall and the rivers that do exist only flow after heavy rainfall which will often cause flooding. The rivers drain in all directions with The Mitchell, Norman and Leichardt flowing northward to the Gulf of Carpenteria. The Warrego, Condamine and Macintyre join the Darling River system in New South Wales. Channels formed by the seasonal flooding of the Georgina and Diamantina rivers, flow towards Lake Eyre in South Australia.
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.
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