Queensland, youngest and second largest of the colonies included, after 1901, in the Australian Commonwealth, comprises an area of 668,497 sq. m. It was little known until 1823, when Oxley discovered the river which he named the Brisbane, in honour of the governor of New South Wales; and it was first proclaimed a separate colony in 1859. The island-studded coast-line is 2250 miles in extent. The southern boundary generally follows the twenty-ninth parallel of S. lat. The northernmost point of the mainland is Cape York. Queensland is 1300 miles in length from N. to S., and 800 miles at the greatest breadth in the S. Its western boundary for the most part is 138o E. long, Running more or less parallel with the eastern coast, about 50 miles inland, is a backbone of mountains, the Main Dividing Range, a continuation of the Blue Mountains; the highest peaks are Bellenden-Ker (5500 feet) and Mount Dalrymple (4250). The east side is ridgy and thickly timbered with eucalypti; the country west of the mountains is to a large extent open downs and plains, often of the richest black soil, covered with the finest fattening herbage in the world. The largest rivers on the east coast are the Brisbane, Mary, Burnett, Fitzroy, Burdekin, and Johnston. On the western watershed are the Mulligan, Herbert, and Diamantina. The headwaters of the Thomson and Barcoo flow southward through the boundless prairie-country. The Flinders, Leichhardt, Gilbert, Mitchell, and Gregory flow northward to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Rockhampton is on the Fitzroy, Maryborough on the Mary, and Mackay on the Pioneer. The principal harbour in Queensland is Moreton Bay. The alluvial coast-lands are devoted to ordinary and semi-tropical agriculture and timber produce. The basaltic plains and tablelands beyond the Main Range, extending to the 'Never Never country,' are occupied by pioneer pastoral-ists with their herds of sheep and cattle. In such a colony, two-thirds of which lies within the tropics, there is a wide variety of climate and natural capabilities. The summer heat is undoubtedly great; but there is immunity from hot winds, and the heat being dry is bearable, 2k though the maximum register is 108°. For seven months of the year the climate is most enjoyable. The colony enjoys a high repute for health, gives a low death and a high birth rate, and is free from pulmonary and contagious diseases. Pop. (1871) 125,146; (1881) 213,525; (1001)503,266, including 9313 Chinese and 9327 Polynesian labourers, and excluding some 7000 aborigines. A table of the population, revenue, comparative crops, exports, etc. of Queensland and the other Australian colonies will be found in the article Australia.
Much of the marked prosperity of Queensland is due to the development of ocean and intercolonial steam communication. The navigable streams have been dredged at enormous cost. The railway system of Queensland (2997 miles) connects with that of New South Wales, and there are over 10,100 miles of telegraph lines. From 1868 to the end of 1903 its mines have produced 17,454,418 ounces of gold, value £5S,312,127. In central Queensland is the remarkable Mount Morgan (q.v.) mine. Copper, tin, silver and lead, quicksilver, manganese, and iron are found; and there are valuable coal-mines. Agates and tine opals are found, and specimens of the diamond, ruby, sapphire, and topaz. The annual exports of wool, hides, skins, and tallow represent a value of 4 1/2 millions. The manufactories comprise metal-foundries, sugar-mills, tanneries, flour-mills, distilleries, sawmills. Tweed-factories are worked near Ipswich. Of late years the beche-de-mer and pearl-fisheries of Torres Straits have been highly productive; and meat-preserving has also become an established industry. The seat of government is Brisbane, and the next largest towns are Rock-hampton, Townsville, Maryborough, Gympie, Ipswich, Toowoomba, and Charters Towers. The governor is appointed by the crown, and there are an executive council and two houses of parliament. The state sends 9 members to the Commonwealth House of Representatives. Education is free, secular, and compulsory. A small permanent force, a defence contingent, and volunteers make up an enrolment nearly 5000 strong; but every male between eighteen and sixty years old is liable for military service in an emergency. The entrance to the Brisbane River is defended by a battery and torpedo works, and there are gunboats, torpedo and packet boats, and a naval reserve. About 410 million acres of land still belong to the crown, leased mostly to squatters as sheep and cattle runs. Market-gardening in Queensland, even in the large towns, is principally done by Chinamen. On the Darling Downs, which is the garden of Queensland, wheat may be grown; and oats, barley, rye, maize, lucerne, and European vegetables and fruits are raised; elsewhere sweet potatoes, yams and pumpkins. Sugar-growing is a great industry, and arrowroot and tobacco are grown. Cotton, rice, coffee, and even tea have been proved to be suitable. An immense variety of fruits, of both temperate and tropical climes, grow well; ginger, pepper, and nutmeg are indigenous. Amongst the hardwoods are the ironbarks, stringy-barks, gums, and blood woods, and there are many easily-worked and beautiful softwoods. Snakes (some of them very poisonous) and alligators are the most dangerous wild animals. The fauna includes the usual Australian marsupials - the platypus, dingo, flying-fox, etc. Kangaroos used to be a pest. Many of the birds are of gorgeous plumage. The emu roams the plains, and the cassowary is a rare appearance in the north. The rabbit has been fenced out from the southern borders with tolerable success. The sea-fishing is unsurpassed, and the Moreton Bay oysters are exported. From the dugong, besides the oil, is obtained a hide invaluable for thick machinery belting. Queensland suffers occasionally from floods and from droughts; the necessity for artificial irrigation is of paramount importance. By 1903 over 900 artesian bores had been sunk, giving a daily flow of nearly 10,500,000 gallons.
See books by Bonwick (1880), Grant (1881), Russell (1888), Lumholtz (1889), Weedon (1898), the annual Year-book, and Rutlidge's semi-official Guide to Queensland (1899).