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Master planning for the priority Port of Townsville

Port of Townsville
Photo courtesy of the Port of Townsville Limited.

The Queensland Government is leading master planning for the priority Port of Townsville in accordance with the Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 (Ports Act) and the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan (Reef 2050 Plan).

About the port

The priority Port of Townsville is a critical northern gateway for trade and investment. It is the largest general cargo and container port in Northern Australia and Australia's leading exporter of copper, zinc, lead and sugar.

The port was established in 1864 to service the local community, pastoral areas, the sugar industry and regional goldfields. International trade through the port is now valued at around $9 billion annually with over 30 different commodities from high value minerals to products such as sugar and fertiliser exported through the port.

The port supports a wide range of industry sectors, including resources, energy and agriculture whilst providing an increasingly strategic role in Australia's defence capabilities. It also plays a vital role in tourism for the region.

Read more about the priority Port of Townsville.

Master plan and port overlay

Master plan

The Master plan for the priority Port of Townsville is a strategic document that has a long-term outlook for the sustainable development of the port through to 2050. Long-term master planning provides a strategic and coordinated approach to managing port-related development and considers issues including marine and land-based impacts, port and supply chain infrastructure optimisation.

The master plan looks beyond the port boundary to ensure port-related development is sustainably managed while protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

The master plan aligns with key projects associated with the ongoing sustainable development of the port. These include the Channel Upgrade Project, Townsville City Deal, the proposed Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor and supporting mineral freight exports from the North West Minerals Province. 

Read more in the master plan fact sheet.

Master planned area

The priority Port of Townsville master plan includes a master planned area which encompasses a total area of about 16,500 hectares.

The master planned area includes land and marine areas required for the efficient development and operation of the port. The inclusion of land and marine areas supports the management of potential impacts on the OUV of the GBRWHA and other environmental values that may occur as a result of port development and operations.

The master planned area includes strategic port land under the Transport Infrastructure Act 1994 and:

  • land within the Townsville State Development Area
  • land within the Townsville City Waterfront Priority Development Area
  • land within the Townsville City Council local government area
  • marine areas within port limits but outside State and Commonwealth marine parks.

Where possible, the boundary of the master planned area has been established to avoid areas that contain significant environmental values.

Seven precincts within the master planned area outline the long-term intent for specific areas. The precinct approach supports cumulative impact management within the master planned area by identifying areas with environmental values where development should be limited, as well as separate areas that may be suitable for infrastructure and port-related development.

Townsville Master Planning Area and Precincts
Click for larger version of the priority Port of Townsville map

Port overlay

The Port overlay for the priority Port of Townsville is the regulatory instrument that implements the master plan for the master planned area. It provides requirements for land use planning and development decisions in the master planned area.

The port overlay operates alongside existing planning instruments and only regulates development in the master planned area if additional requirements are necessary to implement the master plan. It has effect from 1 February 2021.

A fact sheet is available to assist the community and development industry in understanding the port overlay. 

If you require a hard copy of the port overlay, please email or telephone 13 23 80* (fees for hard copies may apply).   

* Check with your service provider for call costs. 

How the master plan and port overlay were developed

Master planning for the priority Port of Townsville was a collaborative process undertaken with the Port of Townsville Ltd, Townsville City Council, state and federal agencies, and other key stakeholders in accordance with the Ports Act.

The Queensland Government released the Master plan for the priority Port of Townsville on 4 November 2019. This followed the release of the Draft master plan for the priority Port of Townsville for public consultation from 5 November 2018 to 17 December 2018. 

On 27 August 2020 the Queensland Government released the Port overlay for the priority Port of Townsville. Public consultation on the Draft port overlay for the priority Port of Townsville was undertaken from 4 November 2019 to 16 December 2019.

Public consultation for the draft master plan and draft port overlay provided the community and industry with the opportunity to have their say on the sustainable growth of the port. Submissions received during the public consultation periods for the draft master plan and draft port overlay informed the final master plan and port overlay.

Reports about the public consultation processes for the draft master plan and draft port overlay and the matters raised in the submissions have been released:

Further information about the approach to preparing master plans and port overlays and how these operate can be found in the Priority ports master planning guideline

Document register

Master plan for the priority Port of Townsville

Port overlay for the priority Port of Townsville

Supporting and archived documents

Most of the following documents were prepared at a point-in-time and are provided for information and historical reference:

If you require a higher resolution file of these documents, please email

Further information


Last updated
05 May 2021