Townsville, aQueenslandcity on the north-eastern coast ofAustralia, is a community unique for many things – and chief among those things is its unity. “We have a community that has a belief in itself, and has always prided itself in working together to get things done,” says Townsville Mayor Les Tyres. “Over the years, the Council, its promotional groups, and other organisations have all spoken for Townsville with a single voice.”
Another point of pride for the city is the good weather – they enjoy roughly 300 days of sunshine every year. Additionally, they are unique in their geographic position, being adjacent to Central, Northern and alsoWestern Queensland.
Townsville has a population of about 190,000. It is a city more stocked with facilities for its residents to enjoy than most – or all – other regional centres around the country. The population increases at a rate of 2.7 per cent per year, with approximately 5,000 new residents making the move to Townsville annually. Their population is estimated to reach 240,000 residents by 2020.
The city enjoys a solid reputation for the vacation opportunities it offers for people to participate in. Whether someone is looking for an action or leisure holiday, Townsville has something for everyone. Magnetic Island, which is 20 minutes by ferry off the coast, has a variety of locations for people to stay. Whether you are a backpacker looking for adventure, or you are looking for five star accommodations, options are plentiful. Townsville also has a number of tropical attractions locally – including the Paluma,HiddenValleyarea – and is only an hour away from the historic city ofChartersTowers. “It’s a reflection of the outback,” Mayor Tyrell says.
To their north, Townsville has places likeWallamanFalls– the largest waterfall inAustralia. For residents looking south, they have opportunities to take in a whole range of tourism activities while staying in the city. Which is important, as tourism is a valued but balanced component of the local economy. “It’s an important part of our economy, but not one that would cause Townsville to suffer overall in the tourist slump,” explains Mayor Tyrell.
Meanwhile, Townsville has a strong and diverse economy with significant industries that include retail trade, health and education services, government administration and defence, construction, mining, manufacturing, and property and business services. Together, Queensland Rail and the Port of Townsville provide a transport hub for the region’s mining and agricultural industries, as well as for the locally based Xstrata Copper Refinery, Sun Metals Zinc Refinery, Queensland Nickel and the Queensland Sugar Corporation Distribution Centre.
While the recent global financial crisis and the resulting economic uncertainty has had an adverse effect on Townsville, the city has maintained its broad economic basis, due largely in part to the public service industry it boasts. “The crisis certainly has had an effect on construction figures, predominantly,” Mayor Tyrell says. “But because our economic basis is so broad and we have a very large public service in defence forces presence here, we don’t suffer as much as other areas. It allows us to stand out much more robustly when we have things like the economic crisis.”
Major issues for the city to contend with going forward include handling the growth that will most certainly come. This will involve ensuring proper infrastructure is in place, both in the commercial and personnel areas. As Mayor, Tyrell seeks to eliminate the possibility for additional traffic and business to cause a change in the lifestyle that residents have come to love. “It’s a laidback style where we can get from anywhere to anywhere in 20 minutes,” Mayor Tyrell says.
The city has a handful of special projects in the pipeline. They include two 30-story office towers, both within the Central Business District, one that is being commissioned by Ergon Energy, while the other is handled by the state government to house its public servants. “They are due to start in the next couple of months.”
Work has also started on the $110 million redevelopment of the dedicated cruise ship terminal at the Port of Townsville that will include new defence facilities to cater to visits from the new defence ships, but also will increase the city’s attractiveness to cruise liners. “We have high hopes of increasing the number of cruise ships that come to the city,” says Mayor Tyrell.
Townsville is also looking at the prospect of constructing a new convention and entertainment centre, which will help the burgeoning convention market that is growing in the city. Additionally, they seek to continue building on all types of infrastructure, such as sports, cultural and community.
Another real success story for Townsville has been the action it has taken in the realm of sustainable development. They are in partnership with Ergon Energy as part of the Solar Cities program, which aims to trial new, sustainable models for electricity supply. Townsville was recently rewarded with a consultancy contract that allowed a closer look at its sustainable measures. “We are working very closely with Ergon the electricity supplier to ensure that electricity supplies are not only available, but also form opportunities for alternative energy into the future. We’re very mindful of the fact that while we have a plentiful water supply, it is something we need to make sure people use wisely,” says Mayor Tyrell.
Townsville’s efforts to attract commercial growth will allow the city to expand its facilities and infrastructure to meet its rising residential requirements over the next 10 years. This is important because, for many years now, the city has enjoyed a nearly three per cent growth rate.
Over time, they also expect their defence force bases will grow. “We know defence is a big part of our population and our economy. One in 11 people are defence personnel. We also have to appreciate that Townsville is a major fly-in, fly-out base for workforces serving mines in central, western and northwestQueensland,” says Mayor Tyrell.
The city’s optimistic future is bolstered by the prestige of being dubbed the state’s second capital by theQueenslandgovernment, and being the events and sports capital of regionalAustralia. “We’re very proud of the role we play in the wider community,” says Mayor Tyrell. Moving forward, he and the council aim to continue playing that role, and continue fostering economic growth and development – but never at the expense of their signature culture. “It’s a matter of looking at how we manage that so we don’t lose what people see as a typical northQueenslandlaidback lifestyle.”