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Strengthening Greater Whitsunday

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The Greater Whitsunday region is one of the most naturally beautiful and resource-rich locations in Australia. From the largest coal mining deposits in Australia, the Bowen and Galilee basins, to the iconic Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands, the region is an economic powerhouse that is key to Queensland’s economy.

The region is home to the Paget Industrial Estate, the biggest mining services support centre in the southern hemisphere. Comprised of over 480 hectares of industrial land and home to more than 500 registered businesses, the estate services the mining and resources sector in Central Queensland and provides specialist industrial, transport and supply chain services. Businesses in the region benefit from an experienced and accessible business network which is comprised of some of Australia’s largest engineering businesses, ASX listed companies and original equipment manufacturers.

The region boasts a diverse agricultural industry which contributes over $1.1 billion to the Queensland economy. The region is one of the largest winter growing vegetable regions in Australia, producing over $185 million worth of annual produce across the major commodities of tomatoes, capsicums, beans, mangoes and melons. Broad acre growers across the region account for approximately one-third of Australia’s sugar cane in addition to a range of other crops including cereals and oilseeds. Livestock production, predominately beef cattle, generates $486 million of gross value for the region, which represents approximately 10% of Queensland’s beef industry. The region is also at the epicentre of the state’s burgeoning aquaculture industry with significant private investment driving the region’s current annual prawn production rates of 5000 tonnes to 20,000 tonnes by 2030.

The Greater Whitsunday has proven expertise in the biofutures sector, possessing green field investment opportunities, existing facilities and well-established support infrastructure that provides investors with the opportunity to partner and expand upon existing bioprocessing organisations and emerging bioproduct precincts. The region is home to the QUT Renewable Biocommodites Pilot Plant, a pilot scale research and development centre that aims to develop commercially viable biofuels and biocommodity products and processes. Australia’s largest producer of sugar-based ethanol and one of only three commercial biorefineries in Queensland, the Wilmar BioEthanol Bio-refinery, is also located in the region.

The Greater Whitsunday region is also attracting global recognition for its biomedical translational and clinical research. The region is home to two emerging translational and clinical research centres, the Mackay Institute of Research and Innovation and the Coral Sea Clinical Research Institute who are achieving success and global interest through delivery of their respective research in partnerships with domestic and international research partners and biopharmaceutical companies. The region has a strong and diverse economic base and a proven track record for its innovation, resilience and prosperity.

Population

174,816  (June 2020) REMPLAN

Employment

5.4% unemployment (February 2021) – Queensland Treasury

Strengths

  • A diverse regional economy with a gross regional product of approximately $23.813 billion, supported by over 85,165 jobs across key industry sectors including mining/manufacturing, health care, tourism and construction (Source: Remplan, Sep 2020)
  • A strong forecast of development activity with over $3.5 billion worth of construction work across more than 500 projects in the pipeline (Source: Cordell Connect, Sep 2021)
  • The largest mining services industrial precinct in the southern hemisphere home to over 500 mining and manufacturing businesses servicing the international mining sector
  • A strong manufacturing base supported by the presence of original equipment manufacturers, international engineering firms and ASX listed companies
  • A strategic location in the heart of the Bowen and Galilee basins, the largest coal mining deposits in Australia and the majority of Queensland’s prime coking coal.
  • An emerging industrial biotechnology sector with world-class expertise in research and development
  • A strong and diverse agricultural sector, which accounts for approximately 30% of Australia’s sugar cane, one of the largest winter produce growing regions in Australia and 5% of Australia’s beef
  • A burgeoning prawn aquaculture sector with annual production rates forecast to grow from 5000 tonnes in 2020 to 20,000 tonnes by 2030
  • A globally recognised biomedical research sector that supports regional patients to access clinical trials in a regional locality
  • Access to higher education and research opportunities through two university campuses and the QUT Biocommodities Pilot Plant
  • Three regional airports, two deep water seaports, three bulk shipping terminals, reliable freight service rail networks
  • Ideal positioning at the gateway to the Asia-Pacific and close economic ties with expanding Asia-Pacific markets
  • The World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef and internationally renowned Whitsundays with approximately 2 million domestic and international overnight visitors to the region annually (Source: TEQ, March 2020).

Industries

  • agriculture
    • food products
    • horticulture
    • grains and pulses
    • livestock
  • aviation
  • beef processing
  • biobased products
  • construction
  • education
  • energy production / renewable energy
  • fisheries / aquaculture
  • food and beverage
  • health and emerging biomedical
  • manufacturing / engineering
    • craft brewing
    • fabricated metal production
    • food manufacturing
    • machinery and equipment
    • industrial precinct
    • light industries
    • rail manufacturing
  • marine
  • mining – coal
  • retail trade
  • sport
  • tourism

Local business services and support

We’re committed to providing local businesses with full, fair and reasonable opportunities to participate in government and non-government projects across Queensland. This is done by delivering a range of activities to help local businesses find project opportunities, compete for work and improve their tendering and supply chain capabilities.

View all upcoming events and opportunities in the region on the events page including:

  • workshops
  • mentoring services
  • industry briefings supporting businesses at all stages of project supply chains

Key projects

Clarke Creek Wind Farm

The Clark Creek Wind Farm project will be located in Clarke Creek, approximately 150 km north-west of Rockhampton and 150 km south of Mackay in Central Queensland. The wind farm is a $1 billion investment that will involve the construction of up to 195 wind turbines and associated ancillary infrastructure. It’s estimated that 350 jobs will be created during the construction period and up to 25 full-time jobs will be required when operational.

Lacour Energy has partnered with Goldwind Australia Pty Ltd (Goldwind) to deliver the Clarke Creek Wind Farm project. The project will be delivered in two stages. Stage 1 consists of the construction of 101 turbines generating 450 MW of power, with Stage 2 to complete the construction of the remaining 94 turbines which will generate a further 400 MW of power. Construction is planned to start in late 2021.

We’re working with Lacour and Goldwind to facilitate local industry participation in the project through the Clarke Creek Local Business Participation Program. The program will be implemented in a three-stage process via the Industry Capability Network (ICN) and industry briefing sessions.

Aerospace

The Greater Whitsunday region is an emerging leader in the aerospace sector with the recent announcement in May 2021 that Queensland could be home to a new space launch facility at Abbot Point. Gilmour Space Technologies has expressed an interest in the site and is developing the project to proceed on building and operating an orbital launch facility. The company is proceeding with a development application for a small rocket launch pad at Abbot Point State Development Area near Bowen. The announcement follows a technical and environmental study commissioned on Abbot Point last year, which concluded that the site is suitable for small-scale launch vehicles. The easterly facing position, proximity to the equator, and leading launch and propulsion companies make Queensland the perfect place to invest in space.

In July 2019, QANTAS selected Mackay to establish a pilot training academy at the Mackay airport. Mackay was selected for this $30M investment due to a high proportion of clear weather days per year, access to support infrastructure and the ability to attract students and trainers to reside in the region. Due to the effects of COVID-19 the commencement of this project has been delayed.

Top Shelf International’s Eden Lassie Agave Spirit Distillery and Visitor Centre project

Established in 2014, Top Shelf International is an Australian diversified branded distilled spirits company with a core purposed to produce, market and distribute authentic Australian made spirit products.

Top Shelf International’s Eden Lassie Agave farm, located 30km south of Bowen, is a strategic asset that will enable the creation and distribution of a first-of-its-kind Australian agave spirit category  and be a leading brand in the ever-growing and changing world of spirits.

Commencing in 2020, the Eden Lassie Agave Distillery and Visitor Experience Centre project includes the establishment of 1 million agave plants on the 430-hectare farm over four years. The construction of a distillery and visitor centre will be a staged process over a five-year period commencing in 2021. The distillery will initially have the capacity to produce 1.2 million bottles of agave spirit per annum.

With similar spirits, Tequila and Mezcal, earning an average compound growth rate of 7.5% over the last six years in the USA, Top Shelf International’s Australian Agave spirit is being developed with international markets in mind.

Last updated: Friday, Jul 16, 2021