111 steps to $12.9 billion for Rocky

Published: 26th April 2023

By Nichola Davies / LGAQ Digital Journalist

Rockhampton Regional Council and Advance Rockhampton have revealed an ambitious five-year economic strategy for Rocky that is set to revolutionise the region.



The first shipment of Rockhampton-grown kalonji has just been sent to Melbourne. You’re forgiven if you’ve never heard of the spice before – Rockhampton Regional Council’s Executive Manager Greg Bowden had to Google what it is, too.

Also known as nigella sativa or black cumin, kalonji is used in curries, breads and sweets, traditionally in India, Africa and the Middle East. It’s one crop, along with black sesame, that grows exceptionally well in Central Queensland conditions.

A burgeoning spice trade is just one element of the agricultural growth opportunities – which include irrigated crops with the $367 million Rookwood Weir project coming online at the end of this year – identified under a new multi-faceted economic plan for the Rockhampton region.

In fact, so anticipated is the Rookwood Weir, that by the time it’s completed, there will be two-and-a-half thousand hectares of macadamias under the dirt ready for watering, with potential citrus, lychee and mango crops to follow.

Agriculture is one of the key growth opportunities identified for the region, incorporated into a five-pillar plan that focuses on future jobs and investment attraction, infrastructure for future growth, regional promotion and major events, regional collaboration and partnerships and talent retention and attraction.

The Rockhampton Region Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan, developed over two years in consultation with more than 2000 community members and business people, stipulates Rocky’s gross regional product, which is $5.5 billion today, could reach the potential of $12.9 billion by 2041.

Along with agriculture, defence has been identified as a huge area for potential growth, and Mr Bowden explains that Council was very fortunate to participate heavily in the Federal Government’s Defence Service Review, which was announced last September.

“That will escalate our case a lot faster than we thought," Mr Bowden said.

"We have been meeting with the Department of Defence and Federal Government regularly over the past three months and our mayor has been down to Canberra several times."

More than a billion dollars is being spent to develop nearby Shoalwater Bay presently, which will have an urban village rated to withstand gunfire from a tank.

An increased defence presence means not only jobs for troops in the region, but jobs for partners of defence personnel in the professional services sector.

“It’s not 1970… if you’re going to bring troops here, you’ve got to have jobs for their partners,” Mr Bowden said.

“The economic opportunity of the professional services field and medical field really works hand-in-hand with that.

“There’s a lot of jigsaw puzzle pieces to put together but we’re ready to rock and roll.

“The easy part’s done – we’ve delivered the strategy and plan, now the hard part starts and that’s delivering it.”

The plan has been broken down into 111 action items – around 20 per pillar – to make the plan more digestible and workable for staff to achieve over the next five years.

“Everyone’s keen and it has given real direction, not only to my team, but to the city as it shows how our future could be,” Mr Bowden said.

“As my slogan goes, ‘it’s time to put Rocky on your radar’.”

To read Rockhampton’s new economic strategy and plan (including a summarised version), visit https://www.rockhamptonregion.qld.gov.au/ForBusiness/Economic-Development-Strategy.