15 December, 2023
Mareeba making its move
MAREEBA Shire’s proximity to the coast, reputation for good weather and its affordable housing market are just some of the reasons why the population continues to grow, according to an annual economic snapshot.
The Mareeba Chamber of Commerce document says the growth has sparked a building boom, citing $52 million in building approvals for the shire in the 2022-23 year.
“One of the key drivers of this growth is the creased interest in people seeking a change in their living environment,” the snapshot reports.
“Many are being drawn to Mareeba’s climate …. Additionally, the town’s affordability in comparison to Cairns has attracted first-time homebuyers and retirees looking to downsize or find a quieter retirement community.”
In the snapshot’s forward, Mayor Angela Toppin said her council was committed to creating the best conditions possible to attract investment and drive economic growth.
Describing the shire’s economic future as “bright”, Mayor Toppin said people were continuing to choose to live in a regional or rural area, particularly in the 25-34-year-old age range.
“I’m also proud to report that the Gross Regional Product in the year ending June 2022 was $1.18 billion – an increase of 6.3% on the previous year,” she wrote.
Not surprisingly, agricultural pursuits remain the backbone of the shire’s economy, generating $279 million or 29.3% of the total value added by industry, followed by Public Administration and Safety ($93 million), and Health Care and Social Assistance ($78 million).
“In combination, these three industries accounted for $449 million or 47.2% of the total value added by industry in the Mareeba Shire,” the report states.
“In comparison, the same three industries in Queensland accounted for 4.1%.”
The snapshot reveals that 29.6% of all businesses registered in the shire were involved in agriculture, forestry or fishing, compared to just 6% in Queensland.
While it remains the key employer in the region, tourism is beginning to strongly emerge as a future important economic driver, with more people seeking nature-based or adventure holidays, particularly involving biking and hiking.
This year’s formation of Mareeba Local Tourism Organisation will seek to elevate the industry, with an action plan developed to lure even more visitors to the region.
In the 2022-23 financial year, the Mareeba Heritage Museum and Visitor Information Centre welcomed 162,840 through its doors, and events like Savannah in the Round, the Rotary Field Days, Mareeba Rodeo and the Northern Nats are doing their part to bring people and money into town.
The Field Days saw more than 15,000 attend the three-day showcase of agricultural goods and services, while a record-breaking crowd attended this year’s rodeo, and the 2023 Savannah in the Round festival was the biggest to date.
Mareeba Shire Council is also doing its bit to attract tourism, developing and rolling out its Public Art Trail that envisions more than 30 public murals by 2025. Already, the Biboohra water tanks and the Chillagoe Town Hall have been refreshed with colourful images.
As part of its charter, the town’s chamber of commerce has been firmly focused on promoting small businesses, launching a “buy local” initiative last month in the form of gift cards in the hope locals will support local businesses.
Chamber president Joe Moro says the Mareeba business community “continues to thrive”.
“Always a resilient community, Mareeba continues to confront challenges and embrace opportunities,” he said.
Among achievements throughout the year, he listed the organisation’s work with FNQ Growers to negotiate the harvesting of around 17,000 megalitres of water from the Walsh River and supplementary streams to drive the agricultural industry as one of the most important.