The Southern Downs is a Local Government Area of 7,500km2, adjoining South East Queensland, south of Toowoomba and north of the state’s border with New South Wales, governed by the Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC). The Southern Downs provides both urban, rural and town living options, diverse economies and historically healthy natural environments. It has long been regarded as one of Queensland’s prime agricultural, lifestyle, educational and tourism regions, with a long history of inclusive communities.
The region has road, rail and air connection, existing infrastructure and the physical capacity to grow the population from the current 35,542 to an 40,924 – 0.7% increase over 25 years (Stat Office 2015). The region has an ageing population with 23% over the age of 65, compared with 15.2% of the Qld average (2016 ABS Stat).
The Southern Downs’ leading sectors by value in 2015 – 2016 five top industries as referenced by SDRC Economic Development Strategy 2017 – 2020:
- $751 million – Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
- $648.2 million – Rental, Hiring and Real Estate
- $488.2 million – Manufacturing
- $339.7 million – Construction
- $238.4 million – Transport, Postal and Warehousing
Region’s strengths and attributes
- Productive rural land and agricultural capacity which supplies local, state and interstate with high-quality fresh local produce;
- Strong country character set against a backdrop of the Border Ranges and grassy plateaus, distinguished by unique granite rock formations;
- Sub-tropical highland climate with dour distinct seasons, which offers a cool contrast to the coastal sub-tropical climate of South East Queensland.
- Rural lifestyle which offers a point of difference to high/medium density lifestyle of Toowoomba and Brisbane.
- Diverse range of educational facilities, community/sporting groups and associations.
- Strong volunteer base across a broad range of organisations, which bring strong economic growth to region through tourism/sporting events, with a focus on theme of ‘Warwick – HorsePower Capital of Australia’ (Southern Downs Steam Railway, Morgan Park Race, Leyburn Sprints to name but a few).