South East Queensland
Regions of Queensland with South East Queensland in the bottom right hand corner of the state
Population3,800,000 (2020)[1][2]
 • Density107.8/km2 (279/sq mi)
Area35,248 km2 (13,609.3 sq mi)
LGA(s)City of Brisbane, City of Gold Coast, Somerset Region, Sunshine Coast Region, City of Moreton Bay, Redland City, Logan City, Shire of Noosa, Scenic Rim Region, City of Ipswich, Lockyer Valley Region, Toowoomba Region[3]
Localities around South East Queensland:
Darling Downs Wide Bay–Burnett South Pacific Ocean
Darling Downs South East Queensland South Pacific Ocean
Darling Downs New South Wales North Coast South Pacific Ocean

South East Queensland (SEQ) is a bio-geographical, metropolitan, political and administrative region of the state of Queensland in Australia, with a population of approximately 3.8 million[2] people out of the state's population of 5.1 million.[1][4][5] The area covered by South East Queensland varies, depending on the definition of the region, though it tends to include Queensland's three largest cities: the capital city Brisbane; the Gold Coast; and the Sunshine Coast. Its most common use is for political purposes, and covers 35,248 square kilometres (13,609 sq mi)[6] and incorporates 11 local government areas,[3] extending 240 kilometres (150 mi) from Noosa in the north to the Gold Coast and New South Wales border in the south (some sources include Tweed Heads, New South Wales which is contiguous as an urban area with Brisbane/Gold Coast), and 140 kilometres (87 mi) west to Toowoomba (which is simultaneously considered part of the Darling Downs region). It is the third largest urban area in Australia by population.

South East Queensland was the first part of Queensland to be settled and explored by Europeans. Settlements initially arose in the Brisbane and Ipswich areas with activity by European immigrants spreading in all directions from there. Various industries such as timber cutting and agriculture quickly developed at locations around the region from the 1840s onwards. Transport links have been shaped by the range of terrain found in South East Queensland.

The economy of South East Queensland supports and relies on a wide diversity of agricultural manufacturing industries, commerce and tourism. The region has an integrated public transport system, Translink. The gross domestic product is $170 billion.[2]


The term South East Queensland has no equivalent political representation. The area covers many lower house seats at the federal and state levels. As Queensland has no upper house, there are no Legislative Council provinces or regions to bear the name either.

South Eastern Queensland, as an interim Australian bioregion, comprises 7,804,921 hectares (19,286,380 acres) and includes the Moreton Basin, South Burnett, and the Scenic Rim along with ten other biogeographic subregions. It extends as far north as Gladstone, and south into north-eastern New South Wales.[7]


See also: History of Brisbane

Queensland's first railway linked Grandchester to Ipswich, 1865

South East Queensland was home to around 20,000 Aboriginals prior to British occupation. The local tribes of the area were the Yugarapul of the Central Brisbane area; the Yugambeh people whose traditional lands ranged from South of the Logan River, down to the Tweed River and west to the McPherson Ranges; the Quandamooka people whose traditional lands encompassed the Moreton Bay Islands to the mouth of the Brisbane River to Tingalpa and south to the Logan River; and the Gubbi Gubbi people whose traditional lands were known to exist north of the Pine River, to Burrum River in the north, and west to the Conondale Range. According to history researchers the Aboriginal population declined to around 10,000 over the next 60 years.[8]

Early explorers in the area including Matthew Flinders, Allan Cunningham, John Oxley and Patrick Logan. Around 1839, European settlers were able to move into the region. Logging was the first industry to develop. The first railway built in Queensland linked Grandchester to Ipswich in 1865 along a narrow 1067 mm gauge.[9]

South East Queensland became the scene of war against the coalition of Aboriginal tribes from 1843 to 1855.

Major floods were experienced in 1893, 1974, 2011 and 2022. In 2005, the region suffered its worst drought in recorded history.[10]


Travel map of South-East Queensland

Queensland's fifth highest peak, Mount Superbus, is located in the south of the region. The Cunningham Highway passes southwest to the Darling Downs via Cunninghams Gap. Several highways including the Bruce Highway, Warrego Highway and the Pacific Motorway link to the adjoining regions.

Wyaralong Dam was opened in 2011

The region is mountainous. McPherson Range, Teviot Range, D'Aguilar Range, Little Liverpool Range, Blackall Range as well as the Springbrook Plateau and Tamborine Mountain Plateau. Isolated volcanic peaks are found at Moogerah Peaks and the Glass House Mountains. Along the coast are several large islands including Bribie Island, Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island with many smaller islands in Moreton Bay. Several major water supply and flood mitigation dams have been constructed here. The SEQ Water Grid, Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme and Gold Coast Desalination Plant were built to counter the effects of drought in South East Queensland. Just over half the land is used for grazing.[11] South East Queensland is flood-prone.

Local government areas

South-East Queensland from the Landsat 7 satellite

South East Queensland includes 12 adjoining local government areas (LGAs). Generally, the agglomeration/region consists of the metropolis of Brisbane (2.5 million inhabitants) and the Gold Coast (0.6 million inhabitants), Sunshine Coast (0.33 million inhabitants), Toowoomba (0.13 million inhabitants) and the Shire of Noosa (0.06 million inhabitants):

Local government
in 2018[12]
per km2

South East
City of Brisbane 1,231,605 1,343  917
City of Moreton Bay 459,585 2,042  225
Logan City 326,615 958  341
City of Ipswich 213,638 1,094  195
Redland City 156,863 537  292
Scenic Rim Region 42,583 4,243  10
Somerset Region 25,887 5,373  5
Lockyer Valley Region 41,011 2,269  18
City of Gold Coast 606,774 1,334  455
Sunshine Coast Region 319,922 2,254  142
Toowoomba Region 170,356 12,957  13
Shire of Noosa 55,369 870  63

The Tweed Shire is actually within NSW but is often included in planning processes for SEQ. While not officially part of the Translink public transport network, Kinetic Group run a seamless service across the border that appears to passengers as though it is integrated.

A highly effective integrated ticketing system for public transport has averted transport gridlock in the region.[13]

Major cities

The region is a complex, regional hybrid linking the Brisbane metropolitan area with several surrounding cities.[13] South East Queensland includes the following cities:

New developments are currently underway at Springfield, Ecco Ripley, Yarrabilba and Flagstone. Some geographers suggest several more master-planned communities will be needed to cater for the expected population growth rates.[14]




Pineapple plantation at Cleveland, 1907
Milking cows at Mount Maroon, 1935

The region exports a number of crop products including broccoli, onion, Chinese cabbage, sweet corn and celery.[15] A sizeable vegetable industry is established in the Lockyer Valley. Timber cutting, mining and a range of agricultural pursuits including dairying were once prominent in South East Queensland. Tourism, in part due to Brisbane serving as major transport and export hub and destinations such as the Gold Coast and the availability of land for industry, has grown in recent decades together with specialised skills in professional services and manufacturing.[16]

Car dependency has a risen when the location of jobs in areas such as health and education are at distance from where the majority live.[17] Road transport in Brisbane relies on the car as the dominant form of transport.[17]


As of 2014, the population of South East Queensland is estimated to be approximately 3.4 million, meaning that between one in six and one in seven Australians call the region home.[18] The regional population is heavily urbanised and concentrated along the coast. The three largest population centres of Brisbane, Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast account for 90 per cent of the region's population.[19] In the year to June 2020, the City of Ipswich was the fastest growing local government area in Queensland.[20]

Immigration and population growth

South East Queensland is one of the fastest-growing regions in Australia. Growth in the state is fuelled principally by migration from the southern states and overseas.[21] In 2010, South East Queensland's population grew by an average of about 1,200 new residents each week.[22]

Between 1991 and 2016 the population rose from 1.9 million residents to 3.3 million.[23] South East Queensland is expected to be home to 4.4 million by 2031.[24] A 2010 report concluded that the region will reach 5.5 million people by 2051.[25]

The population growth rate in SEQ was more than twice the rate of the rest of Queensland over the past 2 decades. More than 80% of population growth in the state between 1999-2019 occurred in SEQ.[26]

Population growth was putting pressure on schools and hospitals in the region in 2021.[27][28]

Regional planning

See also: South East Queensland Infrastructure Plan and Program

South East Queensland's future development will be heavily based on the South East Queensland Regional Plan, released by the Queensland state government in 2005.[29] The regional plan covers the period from 2009–2031 and focuses on slowing development along the coast, in order to prevent creating a 200 km city, and instead aim for growth in the west, in particular around Springfield and Beaudesert.[29] Infrastructure planning in South East Queensland is almost exclusively designed to facilitate trans-metropolitan travel and reduce traffic congestion.[13]

The region's big picture planning document was updated for the third time in 2017 with the release of South East Queensland Regional Plan, Shaping SEQ.[30] Shaping SEQ was reviewed in 2023 because of rapid population growth in South East Queensland.[31]


Brisbane Koala Bushlands at Burbank, 2008

Predominantly rural landscapes lie to the west of the urbanised coastal centres. The Lockyer Valley, a major agricultural area referred to as "South East Queensland's Salad Bowl", lies outside Brisbane. Many World Heritage listed rainforests are located along the region's southern border ranges, an area known as the Scenic Rim, such as Lamington National Park and Main Range National Park.

Within the region, the koala is listed as vulnerable. In South East Queensland the koala is threatened by habitat loss, disease such as chlamydiosis[32] and increased mortality due to domestic animals and motor vehicles.[33] The Australian Koala Foundation says the animal is threatened by mining and land development.[34] Numbers in Redland City have seen a dramatic decline in recent years.[35] The state government launched the Koala Conservation Plan in 2006. The plan involved the rehabilitation of cleared areas, domestic dogs containment and koala signage.[35] Another initiative was launched in 2010 to protect and rehabilitate koala habitats by tree planting and the construction of koala friendly fencing.[36]

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change SEQ is one of Australia's regions most vulnerable to climate change.[23] After many years of water restrictions due to severe drought, the Government of Queensland lifted restrictions across the whole of South East Queensland on 1 January 2013.[37]

A fire ant outbreak is underway in South East Queensland. In 2022, 60 new suburbs around Brisbane, Moreton Bay, and the Scenic Rim were added to the biosecurity zone as part of a national fire ant eradication program.[38]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Population Estimates by Local Government Area, 2019 to 2020". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 1 March 2021. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Our region at a glance".
  3. ^ a b "SEQ Councils".
  4. ^ Queensland population counter. Queensland Treasury. Retrieved on 27 November 2021.
  5. ^ Stanton, J. P. (James Peter); Morgan, M. G; University of New England. School of Natural Resources (1977), The rapid selection and appraisal of key and endangered sites : the Queensland case study, the University of New England School of Natural Resources, p. 3, retrieved 11 February 2022
  6. ^ "South East Queensland. About Us".
  7. ^ "Australia's bioregions (IBRA)". Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Commonwealth of Australia. 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  8. ^ Tony Moore (19 May 2012). "Joh-era politics? Not yet, says Aboriginal historian". Brisbane Times. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
  9. ^ "History of Rail in Australia". Department of Infrastructure and Transport. Archived from the original on 26 September 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
  10. ^ "Construction of our projects". WaterSecure. Archived from the original on 11 August 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
  11. ^ "South East Queensland: Geographic information". Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
  12. ^ "3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2017-18: Population Estimates by Local Government Area (ASGS 2018), 2017 to 2018". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 25 October 2019. Estimated resident population, 30 June 2018.
  13. ^ a b c Gleeson, Brian; Wendy Steele (2010). A climate for growth. St Lucia, Queensland: University of Queensland Press. p. 8. ISBN 9780702237768. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  14. ^ Tony Moore (27 June 2015). "SEQ population growth needs 12 Springfield-style mega cities to cope: planner". Brisbane Times. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  15. ^ "Vegetable production in South East Queensland". Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. 15 April 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  16. ^ "Business advantages in South East Queensland". The State of Queensland. 21 December 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  17. ^ a b Spearritt, Peter (March 2009). "The 200 Km City: Brisbane, The Gold Coast, And Sunshine Coast". Australian Economic History Review. 49 (1): 88. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8446.2009.00251.x. Retrieved 14 November 2021.
  18. ^ "3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2013–14". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Estimated resident population (ERP) at 30 June 2014.[dead link]
  19. ^ South East Queensland Regional Plan – Part B: Growth management Archived 19 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine. URL accessed on 21 January 2007.
  20. ^ "Population growth, regional Queensland, 2019–20". Government of Queensland. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
  21. ^ Peter Hutson, Mark Saunders, Phillip Kohn & John Merrick (13 February 2008). "Human settlements: Population and settlement patterns". Department of Environment and Resource Management. Archived from the original on 5 April 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2012.((cite news)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ "Population growth highlights and trends Queensland 2011" (PDF). Queensland Treasury. September 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 February 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  23. ^ a b Matthews, Tony; Marston, Gregory (June 2019). "How environmental storylines shaped regional planning policies in South East Queensland, Australia: A long-term analysis". Land Use Policy. 85: 476–484. doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2019.03.042. hdl:10072/391728. S2CID 159083653.
  24. ^ South East Queensland – Department of Infrastructure and Planning
  25. ^ Marissa Calligeros (25 March 2010). "'Fortress Queensland': population cap blasted". Brisbane Times. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  26. ^ "Population growth highlights and trends, Queensland regions, 2020 edition" (PDF). Queensland Government Statistician's Office, Queensland Treasury.
  27. ^ Nothling, Lily (25 January 2021). "Rapid population growth in South-East Queensland prompts $400 million spend on five new state schools". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
  28. ^ Miles, Janelle (15 October 2021). "Emergency patients in south-east Queensland can wait hours for an ambulance, documents show". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
  29. ^ a b (7 December 2011). South East Queensland Regional Plan Archived 19 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Department of Local Government and Planning. Retrieved on 31 March 2012.
  30. ^ McCredie, Bill (25 August 2017). "Planning for the future of South-East Queensland". Allens. Retrieved 30 July 2023.
  31. ^ Moore, Tony (2 February 2023). "The SEQ growth estimates giving planners a headache". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 30 July 2023.
  32. ^ Wilson, Courtney (29 November 2013). "Thriving Somerset koalas give scientists hope for species survival". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  33. ^ Czechura, Gregory (2011). Wildlife of the Scenic Rim. South Brisbane, Queensland: Queensland Museum. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-9870555-8-3.
  34. ^ Darren Cartwright (11 March 2012). "Activists can't bear Newman's koala protection plan". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  35. ^ a b Nadine McGrath (9 September 2007). "Koalas 'in crisis' in South East QLD". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  36. ^ Tom Forbes & Nicole Jacobi (25 February 2010). "Koala habitat plan seen as good start". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  37. ^ "No water restrictions as Wivenhoe runs at high capacity". Brisbane Times. Fairfax Media. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  38. ^ Stone, Lucy (2 September 2022). "Fire ant program adds more suburbs to south-east Queensland control zones". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2 June 2023.