1.1 Context statement for the Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine subregion

Executive summary

Condamine river weir on Darling Downs in Queensland, 2005 Credit: Arthur Mostead © Commonwealth of Australia (Murray–Darling Basin Authority)

The context statement brings together what is known about the geography, geology, hydrology and ecology of the Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine subregion as at July 2014.


The Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine subregion is located predominantly in south-east Queensland and spans an area of 144,890 square kilometres.

The population of the subregion is estimated to be about 210,000 people concentrated in the main townships of Toowoomba, Warwick, Dalby, Chinchilla, Roma, St George and Goondiwindi. The subregion is home to a number of Indigenous communities including the Barrungum, Bigambul, Gomeroi, Kooma, Mandandanji, Murawari and Nguri people.

Land cover in the subregion has undergone significant modification, with approximately 75% of the subregion used for agriculture, predominantly grazing. Agricultural production in the Condamine and the Border Rivers-Maranoa-Balonne natural resource management regions in 2010-2011 was valued at approximately $2.4 billion. The subregion also contains the Barakula State Forest, which is the largest state forest in the Southern Hemisphere.


The largest basin by area in this subregion is the Surat Basin. The area is underlain by the southern Bowen Basin and the north-western section of the Clarence-Moreton Basin. These basins are part of the Great Artesian Basin.

The oldest coal basin in the subregion is the Bowen Basin. Black coal is mined extensively from the Bowen Basin’s main coal reserves in the Blackwater Group and Bandanna Formation. The Walloon Coal Measures occur in both the Surat and Clarence-Moreton basins and are the main coal seams developed for coal and coal seam gas in these basins.

Surface water and groundwater

The Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine subregion lies within the Murray–Darling Basin.

Average annual rainfall in the region is 585 millimetres. The climate varies from temperate conditions in the upland areas to a hot, persistently dry climate in the west. The largest public water storage in the region is Coolmunda Dam with a storage capacity of 69 gigalitres.

Groundwater is widely extracted for stock and domestic purposes and, to a lesser extent, for town water supply and intensive agriculture.


The Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine subregion spans the high country of the Condamine catchment to the wide alluvial western plains.

The subregion is ecologically significant because it comprises a large range of landforms and associated ecosystems. Approximately 4000 square kilometres of the subregion’s wetlands are listed in the Australian Wetlands Database and three are listed nationally.

The subregion contains seven endangered or critically endangered ecological communities that are protected under Commonwealth legislation and 85 species that are protected under state or Commonwealth legislation. 

Last updated:
5 January 2018
Thumbnail of the Maranoa-Baloone-Condamine subregion