Geography of Queensland
Queensland locator-MJC.png
Coordinates23°S 143°E / 23°S 143°E / -23; 143
AreaRanked 2nd among states and territories
 • Total1,730,648 km2 (668,207 sq mi)
Coastline6,973 km (4,333 mi)
BordersLand borders: Northern Territory, New South Wales, South Australia
Highest pointMount Bartle Frere
1,622 m (5,322 ft)
Longest riverFlinders River
840 km (521 mi)
Largest lakeBurdekin Dam
220 km²

The geography of Queensland in the north-east of Australia, is varied. It includes tropical islands, sandy beaches, flat river plains that flood after monsoon rains, tracts of rough, elevated terrain, dry deserts, rich agricultural belts and densely populated urban areas.

The total land mass of Queensland covers 22.5% of the Australian continent, an area of 1,730,648 square kilometres, making it the second largest state in Australia.[1] The total length of Queensland's mainland coastline is 6,973 km (4,333 mi) with another 6,374 km (3,961 mi) of island coastline.[2] A unique geographical feature of the state is the Great Barrier Reef,[1] an important tourist drawcard. The Tropic of Capricorn crosses the state with about half of Queensland's area located to the north of the line.


Main article: Queensland borders

The far western boundary with the Northern Territory is aligned along the 138th meridian east until Poeppel Corner at the intersection of this meridian and the 26th parallel south. It is here that Queensland borders South Australia. The boundary follows this latitude until it reaches the 141st meridian east Haddon Corner where the border turns south reaching Cameron Corner on the 29th parallel south, the most western part of the border with New South Wales. The border follows this latitude towards the coast at about the 154th meridian east before following the courses of a number of rivers, then across a number of mountain ranges until it reaches Point Danger. These rivers are the Macintyre River, Severn River and Weir Rivers, all tributaries of the Barwon River itself a tributary of the Darling River.[3] Southern border towns include Mungindi, Goondiwindi and Texas.

See also: Queensland and New South Wales boundary encroachments


Regions of Queensland
Regions of Queensland

Main article: Regions of Queensland

The state is divided into several unofficial regions which are commonly used to refer to large areas of the state's vast geography. These include:

Physical geography


The Great Barrier Reef, with the Whitsunday Islands in the north and Shoalwater Bay in the south
The Great Barrier Reef, with the Whitsunday Islands in the north and Shoalwater Bay in the south
View south from Indian Head, Fraser Island, 2005
View south from Indian Head, Fraser Island, 2005

Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world lies off the coast of Queensland.[1] There are half of the world's perched or dune lakes on Fraser Island.[4] These rare lakes, which total 80 of this type worldwide, are formed in depressions between sand dunes and have no natural inflow or outflow. Magnetic Island, Heron island, Great Keppel Island, Hamilton Island and the Whitsunday Islands are known for their tourist resorts. Mornington Island and Great Palm Island sustain large aboriginal communities. In the Torres Strait Thursday Island is the administrative and commercial centre of the Torres Strait Islands. Hinchinbrook Island, a large, mountainous island offshore from Cardwell, is completely preserved within the national park. North West Island is a coral cay that sustains important nesting grounds for sea birds and turtles.

The islands of Bribie, Moreton, North Stradbroke and South Stradbroke are located in the south east corner of the state. North Stradbroke Island is the second largest sand island in the world.[5] As Bribie Island is connected by a bridge over the Pumicestone Passage it is the most developed island in the region.

Bodies of water

Burdekin Dam is Queensland's largest reservoir, 2007
Burdekin Dam is Queensland's largest reservoir, 2007

To the north west of Queensland is the Gulf of Carpentaria. North of Cape York Peninsula is Torres Strait with many Torres Strait Islands, the most northerly of which is Boigu Island at the 10th parallel south. To the east of Queensland lies the Coral Sea, part of the Pacific Ocean. Major bays along the coast include Princess Charlotte Bay, Shoalwater Bay north of Yeppoon, Hervey Bay between Fraser Island and the mainland, Trinity Bay off Cairns and Moreton Bay off Brisbane. The Great Sandy Strait is a passage extending south of Hervey Bay, between the mainland and Fraser Island. Beaches on the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast are long and sandy, attracting tourists including surfers.[6] Further north the waves are dampened by the barrier reefs.

Queensland's largest dam is the Burdekin Dam, followed by Lake Awoonga. There are no large natural lakes in the state. There are a few natural lakes created by volcanic craters and coastal lagoons mainly in South East Queensland. The lakes in the arid and semi-arid regions of Queensland experience low, highly variable rates of rainfall together with very high evaporation rates.[7]


Wallaman Falls has the longest drop of any waterfall in Australia, 2007
Wallaman Falls has the longest drop of any waterfall in Australia, 2007

Queensland contains hundreds of rivers and many more smaller creeks. The discharge from these rivers, particularly in the tropical north of the state, accounts for 45% of the nation's surface runoff.[8] Major coastal rivers include the Mitchell River, Fitzroy River, Mary River and Brisbane River with the Flinders River being the longest at 840 km (520 mi). Inland are the northern tributaries of the Murry River including the Maranoa River, Warrego River and Condamine River. Rivers of the Lake Eyre Basin include Cooper Creek with its two major tributaries Thomson River and the Barcoo River as well as the Georgina River. The Wenlock River contains the highest diversity of freshwater fish of all Australian rivers.[9]

Barron Falls in the north of the state is one of the most striking. During heavy rains the landscape is transformed into a gushing torrent. Similarly Purlingbrook Falls in the Gold Coast Hinterland is most spectacular after strong downpours. Wallaman Falls west of Ingham in North Queensland is Australia's largest single drop waterfall.[10] Other notable waterfalls include Milla Milla Falls, Purlingbrook Falls and Coomera Falls.

Some of Queensland's towns are located on relatively flat land on the banks of rivers. During severe floods, such as the 2010 Queensland floods, numerous towns are inundated as flood waters rise. Levees have alleviated some minor flooding but after prolonged periods of heavy rainfall the sheer volume of flood waters cannot be held back. Disruptions from flooding have become accepted in inland towns like Charleville and to a lesser degree in coastal towns such as Gympie.

Mountains and ranges

Dittmer Mountain Range, Kelsey Creek
Dittmer Mountain Range, Kelsey Creek

Eastern Queensland is dominated by the Great Dividing Range in contrast to the low-relief of western areas. East of the Great Dividing Range is a narrow coastal strip, known as the Australian north-east coast drainage division which contains most of the state's population. It is along this strip that the state's most important agricultural product, sugar cane, is grown in the fertile soils and moist climate.

Other elevated areas include eastern parts of the Barkly Tableland, Atherton Tablelands, Central Highlands containing Carnarvon Gorge and the Granite Belt, Queensland's primary wine-producing region. The Bunya Mountains an isolated spur of the Great Divide are especially scenic and provide important habitat in a region that has suffered from excess land clearing. Closer to the coast is the Glasshouse Mountains, a series of volcanic plugs which were named by the explorer Captain James Cook. Another natural wonder is the series of mountain ranges in South East Queensland known as the Scenic Rim.

The highest mountains in the state are Mount Bartle Frere at 1,622 m (5,322 ft), Mount Bellenden Ker at 1,593 m (5,226 ft), Mount Superbus at 1,375 m (4,511 ft), at Mount Barney 1,359 m (4,459 ft) and Thornton Peak reaching 1,374 m (4,508 ft) above sea level.


Köppen climate types in Queensland
Köppen climate types in Queensland

Because of its size, there is significant variation in climate across the state. There is ample rainfall along the coastline, with a monsoonal wet season in the tropical north, and humid sub-tropical conditions along the southern coastline. Low rainfall and hot humid summers are typical for the inland and west. Elevated areas in the south-eastern inland can experience temperatures well below freezing in mid-winter providing frost and, rarely, snowfall. The climate of the coastal regions is influenced by warm ocean waters, keeping the region free from extremes of temperature and providing moisture for rainfall.[11]

There are six predominant climatic zones in Queensland,[12] based on temperature and humidity:

The annual mean climatic statistics[13] for selected Queensland cities are shown below:

City Min. temp Max. temp No. clear days Rainfall
Brisbane 15.7 °C (60.3 °F) 25.5 °C (77.9 °F) 113.1 1,149.1 mm (45.24 in)[14]
Mackay 19.0 °C (66.2 °F) 26.4 °C (79.5 °F) 123.0 1,570.7 mm (61.84 in)[15]
Cairns 21.0 °C (69.8 °F) 29.2 °C (84.6 °F) 89.7 1,982.2 mm (78.04 in)[16]
Townsville 19.8 °C (67.6 °F) 28.9 °C (84.0 °F) 120.9 1,136.7 mm (44.75 in)[17]

The coastal far north of the state is the wettest region in Australia, with Mount Bellenden Ker, south of Cairns, holding many Australian rainfall records with its annual average rainfall of over 8 metres.[18] Snow is rare in Queensland, although it does fall with some regularity along the far southern border with New South Wales, predominantly in the Stanthorpe district although on rare occasions further north and west. The most northerly snow ever recorded in Australia occurred near Mackay; however, this was exceptional.[19]

Natural disasters are often a threat in Queensland: severe tropical cyclones can impact the central and northern coastlines and cause severe damage,[20] with recent examples including Larry, Yasi, Ita and Debbie. Flooding from rain-bearing systems can also be severe and can occur anywhere in Queensland. One of the deadliest and most damaging floods in the history of the state occurred in early 2011.[21] Severe springtime thunderstorms generally affect the south-east and inland of the state and can bring damaging winds, torrential rain, large hail and even tornadoes.[22] The strongest tornado ever recorded in Australia occurred in Queensland near Bundaberg.[23] Droughts and bushfires can also occur; however, the latter are generally less severe than those that occur in southern states.

The highest official maximum temperature recorded in the state was 49.5 °C (121.1 °F) at Birdsville Police Station on 24 December 1972,[24] although the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite measured a ground surface temperature of 69.3 °C (156.7 °F). Queensland has the highest average maximums of any Australian state, and Stanthorpe, Hervey Bay, Mackay, Atherton, Weipa and Thursday Island are the only large population centres not to have recorded a temperature above 40 °C (104 °F). The lowest recorded minimum temperature is −10.6 °C (12.9 °F) at Stanthorpe on 23 June 1961 and at The Hermitage (near Warwick) on 12 July 1965.[25] Temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F) are, however, generally uncommon over the majority of populated Queensland.

Climate data for Queensland
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 49.0
Record low °C (°F) 5.4
Source 1: Bureau of Meteorology[26]
Source 2: Bureau of Meteorology[27]
Climate data for Brisbane (Köppen Cwa/Cfa)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 40.0
Average high °C (°F) 30.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 26.1
Average low °C (°F) 21.6
Record low °C (°F) 17.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 138.1
Average rainy days (≥ 1 mm) 8.2 10 9.7 7 5.6 6.6 3.8 3.5 3.6 7.1 7.6 8.9 81.6
Average afternoon relative humidity (%) 57 59 57 54 49 52 44 43 48 51 56 57 52
Mean monthly sunshine hours 267 235 233 237 239 198 239 270 267 270 273 264 2,989
Source: Bureau of Meteorology[28]

Cities and towns

Queensland's capital city, Brisbane is located in the most populous region South East Queensland. Also located here is the Gold Coast, Ipswich, Logan, Redcliffe City and Toowoomba the second largest inland city in Australia is located 120 km west of Brisbane on the Darling Downs as well as Warwick.

Townsville is the largest city in the state's north. Other cities in the north of the state include Mount Isa a mining town, Charters Towers, Mackay, the country's biggest exporter of sugar and one of the largest coal exporters in the country and Cairns. In the central regions of the state are the cities of Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Gladstone with its economically important coal exporting port facilities, Maryborough and Hervey Bay. The largest ports in Queensland are the Port of Gladstone, followed by the Port of Brisbane and then the Port of Townsville.

Some Queensland towns and settlements are known as aboriginal communities. Palm Island and Cherbourg are two of the more well-known examples.


Main roads in Queensland
Main roads in Queensland

Rail networks extend along the eastern coast from the Gold Coast to Kuranda. Major branch lines extend inland to Longreach and Charleville and Mount Isa. The Pacific Highway links Brisbane and Sydney along the coast while the New England links the cities inland. The Newell Highway connects Goondiwindi to the southern states via central New South Wales. The Bruce Highway, which travels along the coast from Brisbane to Townsville, has sections near Gympie which were described in a 2006 report as some of the worst national highway in Australia.[29]

See also: Rail transport in Queensland and List of highways in Queensland

Protected areas

Main article: Protected areas of Queensland

Queensland contains significant areas of rainforest and other areas of biological diversity. World Heritage Areas include the Great Barrier Reef, Wet Tropics of Queensland and Gondwana Rainforests of Australia. Queensland has 226 national parks. The largest is Simpson Desert National Park in the remote central west of the state.[30] The most visited national parks in South East Queensland are Tamborine National Park, Lamington National Park and Noosa National Park.[citation needed] These parks are located near centres of major population and are the most accessible in the state. Lamington and other parks around the Scenic Rim such as Main Range National Park, are included in the World Heritage listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia.

Further afield is the Carnarvon National Park in Central Queensland containing rugged gorge country and some of Australia's finest Aboriginal rock art. In the north of the state are Boodjamulla National Park including Riversleigh, Barron Gorge National Park and Daintree National Park where the Wet Tropics of Queensland meets the Great Barrier Reef. Some waterways are protected in three state marine parks. These are the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Great Sandy Marine Park and Moreton Bay Marine Park.[31]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Australia in Brief". Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  2. ^ "Border Lengths – States and Territories". Geoscience Australia. Commonwealth of Australia. Archived from the original on 24 December 2020. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  3. ^ "New South Wales-Queensland border rivers". National Water Commission. Commonwealth of Australia. 22 June 2009. Archived from the original on 27 February 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  4. ^ Hema Maps (1997). Discover Australia's National Parks. Milsons Point, New South Wales: Random House Australia. p. 176. ISBN 1-875992-47-2.
  5. ^ "About North Stradbroke Island". Centre for Marine Studies. University of Queensland. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  6. ^ Loffler, Ernst; Anneliese Loffler; A. J. Rose; Denis Warner (1983). Australia:Portrait of a continent. Hutchinson Group. p. 19. ISBN 0-09-130460-1.
  7. ^ Sue Gardner (April 2010). "Arid and Semi-arid Lakes" (PDF). Queensland Wetlands Program. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
  8. ^ Pigram, John J. (2007). Australia's Water Resources: From use to management. Collingwood, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-643-09442-0.
  9. ^ Brian Williams (16 November 2008). "Australian Wildlife Conservancy in huge land buyout". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
  10. ^ "Places and Drives – The Southern Tropics – Wallaman Falls". Wet Tropics Management Authority. Archived from the original on 13 September 2009. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  11. ^ National Climate Centre. "Australian Government, Bureau of Meteorology – Climate of Queensland". Bureau of Meteorology. Archived from the original on 17 March 2009. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
  12. ^ "Australian Government, Bureau of Meteorology – Australian climatic zones". Archived from the original on 12 December 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
  13. ^ "Australian Government, Bureau of Meteorology – Climate statistics for Australian locations". Bureau of Meteorology. 19 July 2010. Archived from the original on 24 February 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
  14. ^ "Brisbane Regional Office". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
  15. ^ "Mackay M.O." Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
  16. ^ "Cairns Aero". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Townsville Aero". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
  18. ^ "Rainfall and Temperature Records". Climate Extremes. Bureau of Meteorology. 28 February 2013. Archived from the original on 13 March 2014. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  19. ^ "Queensland Snow Events". Weather Armidale. Archived from the original on 10 December 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  20. ^ "Queensland Cyclones". Emergency Management Queensland. Archived from the original on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  21. ^ "Queensland Floods Summary". Bureau of Meteorology. Archived from the original on 6 June 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  22. ^ "Queensland Severe Storms". Emergency Management Queensland. Archived from the original on 10 July 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  23. ^ "Tornadoes". Bureau of Meteorology. Archived from the original on 17 March 2009. Retrieved 6 April 2008.
  24. ^ "Rainfall and Temperature Records". Bureau of Meteorology (Australian Government). Archived from the original on 4 June 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  25. ^ "Rainfall and Temperature Records: National" (PDF). Bureau of Meteorology. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 November 2010. Retrieved 14 November 2009.
  26. ^ "Official records for Queensland in February". Daily Extremes. Bureau of Meteorology. 30 June 2017. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  27. ^ "Official records for Queensland in October". Daily Extremes. Bureau of Meteorology. 30 June 2017. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  28. ^ Bureau of Meteorology. "Brisbane". Archived from the original on 11 April 2020. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  29. ^ "Qld demands more federal funding for highways". ABC News Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 3 October 2006. Archived from the original on 24 December 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  30. ^ Explore Queensland's National Parks. Prahran, Victoria: Explore Australia Publishing. 2008. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-74117-245-4.
  31. ^ "Marine parks". Department of Environment and Resource Management. The State of Queensland. 22 February 2007. Archived from the original on 16 January 2010. Retrieved 23 December 2009.