Queensland is the
second largest state in Australia, covering 1 722 000 km2 and the
third most populous.
It occupies 22.5 per cent of the continent in
the north-east and has boundaries with New South Wales, South
Australia and the Northern Territory. It is bounded by the Gulf of
Carpentaria, Torres Strait and the Coral Sea in
the north, and the South Pacific Ocean in the east. The total
coastline is 7,400 km. Brisbane, the capital, is in the
south-eastern corner of the State. The Torres Strait islands are
2,000 km north of Brisbane. Cairns, the major city of the far north,
is further from Brisbane than is Melbourne, the capital of Victoria
on the southern coast of the continent.
Queensland is essentially a state of great plains
which merge into high country of sharper relief to the east and
north-west. To the north, the country falls gradually to meet the
coastal plain which reaches the Gulf of Carpentaria as a broad tract
of salt flats. The far north-west is occupied by a rugged uplands
region, rich in minerals. Eastward, the country rises towards the
Great Dividing Range which runs from the southern border to the
northern tip of the state and is the main watershed between the
coastal and inland rivers. East of the Great Dividing Range, the
country drops seaward in a jumble of ranges separated by lowlands.
This structure is continued in a chain of mountainous offshore
islands sitting on the continental shelf. Beyond them
is the Great Barrier Reef, a series of coral formations stretching
for about 2,000 km.
Queensland is known as Australia’s “sunshine
state” although weather conditions vary greatly between the coastal
plain and the inland. Brisbane averages 7.1 hours of sunshine a day
in winter. Inland, the days are warm and sunny and the nights cold
and frosty, particularly in the south. Queensland's wet season is
from December to March, when the northwest monsoons sweep down from
Asia and cyclones are most prevalent. Annual rainfall can exceed
4,000 mm in the north. In the north-west, Mount Isa averages less
than 400 mm a year and the average dwindles to about 200 mm in the
south-west corner. Brisbane averages 1,200 mm.
Source: Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade,
International Public Affairs Branch 1994