The shire’s estimated resident population of 23,174 is dispersed across 53,547 km2 resulting in a very low population density of 0.43 persons /km2 compared with 3.01 persons in Queensland (ERP ABS 2021). The median age of the shire’s population is 43 years compared to 38 for Queensland and 38 for Australia (ABS 2021 Census).
As at September 2022, there were 10,652 rateable properties.
Mareeba, with a district population of 11,825, is the main commercial and administrative centre and lies 64 km southwest of Cairns (ABS 2021 Census, Usual Residents). Most of the shire’s remaining population reside in and around smaller towns and districts including Kuranda, Koah, Speewah, Biboohra, Mt Molloy, Julatten, Mt Carbine, Mutchilba, Dimbulah, Irvinebank, Watsonville, Almaden and Chillagoe.
Of 2,980 km of roads in the shire, Council is responsible for 2,302 km, of which 1,639 km are unsealed (MSC Annual Report 2021/22). These council and state managed roads connect communities and rural properties within the Shire and beyond to form an extensive passenger and freight road transport network.
The shire’s history and landscape includes a rich and robust Aboriginal heritage with 14.3% of the shire’s population identifying as Indigenous compared with 4.6% in Queensland. (ABS 2021 Census).
Demonstrating the shire’s high cultural diversity, 10.4% of the shire’s population compared with 13.2% of Queensland currently speak a language other than English at home, with Italian the most common second language (ABS 2021 Census).