10 May, 2023
Population reaches milestone
THE Tablelands has reached a major population milestone, passing the 50,000 mark, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The figures take in both Tablelands Regional Council and the Mareeba Shire Council areas and show an increase of 10,000 over the past 11 years.
According to the figures, as of June 2022, Mareeba Shire had 23,372 people, while TRC had 26,844.
Cairns firm Cummings Economics say the figures show that while many of Australia’s rural areas have been declining in population, the Tablelands area has stood out as one rural area that has grown steadily over the years.
The TRC area was a particularly attractive area for people who wanted a “tree-change” during the Covid years, as families sought to flee large urban areas and seek a more quality lifestyle.
“Behind growth has been a number of factors, especially the role of the Mareeba Dimbulah Water Supply Scheme based on Tinaroo Dam in greatly expanding agricultural production in the area, especially horticultural production to take the Cairns (SA4) region to being the third largest fruit growing area in Australia,” economist Bill Cummings said.
“The Tablelands area is one of the most desired lifestyle locations in northern Australia.
“Contributing to growth has been tourism and location of population working in other parts of the region including mines and in Cairns.
“There has also been a marked rise in retiree population in the area.”
Mr Cummings said the population of 50,000 made the Tablelands area one of the largest concentrations of population in northern Australia outside of the major cities, exceeding the Whitsundays area at 39,000, Cassowary Coast at 29,000 and Central Highlands at 29,000.
“Recorded growth has fluctuated over the years but has never fallen below zero,” he said.
“Over the period, growth has been shared between the two local government areas at about 5,000 each.”