Queensland's wet tropics region is a mountainous chain on the east coast from north of Cooktown to the Paluma Range west of Townsville. Most of the rest, north of Townsville's latitude, is dry tropics. Dry tropics Cape York has average annual rainfall of from 500 to 1500 mm. The northern tip has an average of up to 2000 mm, but higher evaporation and winter drought cause dry conditions.

The southern dry tropics region is defined by the Burdekin River watersheds, and until 2000 it was known as the Burdekin dry tropics region. Shaped like a map of South America, the Burdekin dry tropics region has the Burdekin dam (Lake Dalrymple) near its centre. The river system spreads out from Lake Dalrymple like a spider's web.

The Burdekin River's headwaters are west of the dividing range and Ingham. The river describes an anti-clockwise circuit, fed by numerous tributaries from the Einasleigh uplands and the Gregory Range, the ridgeline of which is defined by the Kennedy Developmental Road. The westerly Campaspe and Cape Rivers join the Burdekin at Lake Dalrymple, as does the Belyando/Suttor system from the south and east. (The Belyando's headwaters are near Alpha, just south of the Tropic of Capricorn.) From Lake Dalrymple the Burdekin moves north-east, gathering a few more tributaries such as the Bowen River, and enters the Pacific near Ayr at the Burdekin delta.

The area of the Burdekin dry tropics region is about 135,000 sq km. Apart from the headwaters areas, the average rainfall for the region is in the range of 500 to 1000 mm. (Coastal rainfall is higher, but not at Townsville which shares the dry tropics rainfall pattern.)

Most of the Burdekin dry tropics region is used for dry-land beef grazing, although most literature deals with irrigated horticulture. Irrigation is concentrated in the former Ayr Shire (Burdekin delta) and the former Bowen Shire. The Burdekin delta's sugar lands were augmented with water from subterranean bores, and the possibilities of damming the Burdekin held out even greater promise. Sugar farming has diversified into tropical fruit and vegetables, particularly around Bowen. Irrigation also supports fodder production, which in turn supports beef production.

Dalrymple was the shire around Charters Towers, and since 2008 has been Charters Towers Regional Council.

The largest inland towns in the Burdekin dry tropics region are Charters Towers and Collinsville. The coastal towns include Ayr and Home Hill.

Cape York Peninsula, Ayr, Belyando Shire, Bowen Shire, Cook Shire, Dalrymple Shire and Jericho Shire entries


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