I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of rugged mountain ranges, of drought and flooding rains.
These famous lines could have been written to describe Gregory. Gregory starts in the east with the sweeping grandeur of Carnarvon’s escarpments, crossing the fields of plenty of the Golden Triangle and Queensland’s Central Highlands, up over the Great Dividing Range to the far horizons of the black soil plains, ending in the haunting and fragile beauty of the desert channel country at the South Australian and Northern Territory border.
Gregory covers nearly one-fifth of Queensland. At over 406,000 square kilometres, and over 41,000 residents, Gregory is bigger than Italy, New Zealand or Victoria combined with Tasmania. Its forested areas alone are bigger than many countries, covering over 12,000 square kilometres of National Parks, State Forests, Timber Reserves and Forest Reserves.
It has both natural and manmade lakes, with Lake Maraboon at Emerald being the second largest lake in Queensland. Gregory’s 13 river systems flow to every point of the compass finding their eventual outlets in environments as different as Lake Eyre and the Great Barrier Reef. The Tropic of Capricorn traverses the northern part of the electorate, while the Great Dividing Range bisects it. Geologically, the electorate covers parts of the Bowen, Galilee, Adavale, Cooper and Great Artesian Basins.
Federal Electorates and Local Governments
Gregory takes in part of two Federal Electorates: Maranoa in the west and Flynn in the east. It also covers part or all of nine local government areas: Central Highlands Regional Council, Boulia Shire Council, Diamantina Shire Council, Barcoo Shire Council, Winton Shire Council, Longreach Regional Council, Blackall-Tambo Regional Council, Isaac Regional Council and Barcaldine Regional Council
At the 2016 Census, the Mining sector was the biggest employer in Gregory accounting for 16.5 % of jobs, followed by Beef Production, Local Government Administration, Education and Hospitals
While Gregory has some of Queensland’s biggest mining operations, and bigger ones planned in the Galilee Basin, it also has some of the smallest miners with the vast majority of Queensland’s small fossickers residing on Gregory’s sapphire and opal fields
All this production has to get to port on the coast. Gregory is serviced by two major east-west rail lines and thousands of kilometres of road, including the Landsborough, Capricorn, Dawson, Gregory and Carnarvon State Highways
State Government Services
Given Gregory’s size and its youthful population, it is not surprising to learn that there are 58 schools in the Electorate, including two Schools of Distance Education. There are also 35 early childhood education centres, two agricultural colleges, two TAFES and one university campus in Gregory.
Gregory has 26 Police Stations, 25 ambulance stations, 20 aged care services and 20 hospital and health facilities operated by four separate Health and Hospital Service Boards.
In 2011-12, there were 5,716 registered businesses in Gregory. Of these, 5,497 were small businesses and 40.8 % were in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries sector.
Gregory's Resource Products
Gregory's Agricultural Products
The physical beauty and variety of this fascinating part of the world makes Gregory an attractive tourist destination for domestic and international visitors. The tourism season peaks in winter and recent years have seen continuing growth in visitor numbers, especially in the caravan and RV segment of the market. International backpackers have also grown as a sector, many finding work on pastoral properties as jackaroos and governesses, seasonal fruit picking or in the hospitality sector.
Gregory is a camper’s paradise with popular locations including Carnarvon Gorge and the Blackdown Tablelands, Welford National Park and Muttaburra Lakes. Lake Maraboon at the Fairbairn Dam near Emerald offers boating and fishing, with the freshwater crayfish known as “Red Claw” being especially popular. The Thomson River in Longreach is also a famous boating and fishing location. On the way, stop and enjoy fossicking on Queensland’s famous sapphire fields.
Other Gregory attractions include the Blackwater International Coal Centre, Rainworth Fort via Springsure, the Barcaldine Workers’ Heritage Centre, the Tree of Knowledge, Barcaldine, the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach, the Blackall Wool Scour (home of the famous Jacky Howe), Tambo Teddies and the Qantas Founders’ Outback Museum.
And who could forget the annual Birdsville Races, typically held at the start of September, which bring this remote town alive with thousands of tourists flocking from all corners of Australia and the world.