The shire’s estimated resident population of 22,730 is dispersed across 53,502 km2 resulting in a very low population density of 0.4 persons /km2 compared with 2.8 persons in Queensland (ERP ABS 30 June 2019). The median age of the shire’s population is 43.1 years compared to 37.4 for Queensland and 38 for Australia (ERP ABS 30 June 2019).
As at 15 February 2021, there were 10,518 rateable properties.
Mareeba, with a district population of 11,079, is the main commercial and administrative centre and lies 64 km south west of Cairns (ABS 2016 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 2019/2020). 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 13% of the shire’s population identifying as Indigenous compared with 4% in Queensland and 12.3% of residents in the Mareeba township identify as Indigenous (ABS 2016 Census).
Many post World War II migrants from central and southern Europe settled in the Mareeba and Dimbulah district forming the backbone of the former tobacco growing industry.
Demonstrating the shire’s high cultural diversity, 13.9% of the shire’s population compared with 13.5% of Queensland currently speak a language other than English at home, with Italian the most common second language (ABS 2016 Census).