By Nicky Way
Say "basin" and most people think of water. Not if you're in Queensland. In Queensland you think of coal, natural resources and the energy boom.
The Surat Basin has traditionally been a coal region, but several billion dollars worth of projects are now earmarked in resources ranging from coal seam gas (CSG) and liquid natural gas (LNG), to wind farming and solar generation. Then there's the billion-dollar expansion of the Port of Gladstone and the new rail link connecting the port and the basin.
Coal mines in the region include: Downer EDI's Commodore open cut coal mine, the Newhope Group's New Acland open cut; CS Energy’s Kogan Creek open cut operated by Golding Contractors and Yancoal’s Cameby Downs open cut operated by Macmahon. Gas and coal-fired power stations feature prominently in the area too. There is Origin Energy's Darling Downs power station, CS Energy's Kogan Creek power station and Intergen’s Millmerran power station.
Other long-standing industries include agriculture, manufacturing and transport.
So, where exactly are we talking about? The Surat Basin stretches out across a massive area to the west and northwest of Brisbane. Many people think of Toowoomba as the gateway to the area, and it also extends out and around the towns of Warwick, Dalby, Chinchilla, Millmerran, Miles and Wandoan. (These towns supply a range of DIDO and residential workers for the resources sector, as does Gladstone which lies to the north.)
The coastal town of Gladstone supports 58,000 residents (ABS 2011). While many workers travel out to the Surat Basin to earn a crust, Gladstone is also a hub of industry in its own right. Projects include new LNG production facilities, the expansion of the Yarwun Alumina Refinery, construction at the Boyne Smelters, production of water and gas pipelines, land reclamation and port dredging.
Gladstone is a family-orientated town with a relatively young median age of 35. You’ll feel right at home if you have kids, because nearly half the population is in the same boat. There's a good range of education options (both primary and secondary) and Central Queensland University has a campus in the town.
Down the coast and inland, about an hour and a half west of Brisbane, is the city of flowers: Toowoomba. It's home to about 155,000 residents (ABS 2011) and families with children make up about a third of the population. The town has an abundance of education options, with more than 20 state and private primary schools and at least 10 high schools to choose from. The University of Southern Queensland has its main campus in Toowoomba and the University of Queensland also has a small campus. The three biggest employers in the town are manufacturing, retail, health and community services.
Ever lived in the Surat Basin, Toowoomba or Gladstone? Tell us what you think...