Old country home near Warrenbayne, Victoria.
The Basin has many small towns with populations ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 people. These small towns mostly function as rural service centres, meeting the needs of the surrounding farming areas and sometimes undertaking some processing of agricultural commodities. Country towns in the Basin include (there are too many to list here) Bourke, Renmark, Forbes, Cooma, Roma, Benalla, St George, Cowra, Balranald, Cunnamulla, Swan Hill, Leeton, Seymour, Deniliquin, Goondiwindi and Cobar.
Towns with populations ranging from 10,000 to 20,000 people are regarded as small urban centres; these include Echuca-Moama, Griffith, Moree, Murray Bridge, Horsham, Wangaratta, Warwick and Murray Bridge.
Paddlesteamers on the Murray river at the Port of Echuca Victoria. Photo by Brayden Dykes
Many small urban centres in the Basin are rich in heritage and played key roles in early European settlement. For example, Horsham dates from the 1840s and was the unofficial capital of the Victorian Wimmera and the major service centre for the surrounding important arable and grazing area. Horsham now has agricultural research and education facilities and clothing and light engineering industries.
Located on the banks of the upper Condamine River in the Granite Belt of south-east Queensland, Warwick is the main service centre for a farming area that produces diverse crop and livestock products, some of which are processed in the town. The area is also noted for its gemstones and minerals.
A small number of towns have larger populations, some of which may range to around 25,000 people, such as Broken Hill.
Large urban centres have populations exceeding 25,000 people. This category includes all the Basin's major urban centres (with the exception of Canberra), including Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Bendigo, Wodonga, Albury, Queanbeyan, Shepparton, Orange, Bathurst, Mildura, Tamworth and Toowoomba.
Information about a few of these cities follows.
Located in northern Victoria, Bendigo's origins lie in the gold discoveries of the early 1850s. The initial alluvial workings were soon exhausted, but the underground mines provided great wealth from the 1870s to the 1890s, from which period much of Bendigo's heritage and tourist attractions date. These include the Central Deborah Gold Mine, the Victorian-era buildings (probably the finest collection found in any Australian city), the Chinese influence, vintage trams, the National Trust-classified Bendigo Pottery, the Bendigo Woollen Mills and University College.
Bendigo remains a major regional and rural service centre, with important state and regional administrative functions. The town also supports numerous industries, including wineries.
Bayliss Street Wagga Wagga NSW, 2007
Located on the Murrumbidgee River, Wagga Wagga is similar in size to its southern NSW neighbour, Albury. Both cities are important regional administrative, commercial and agricultural service centres.
Wagga Wagga also has a major livestock marketing centre and a heritage and tourist centre, as well as important manufacturing industries. The main campus of Charles Sturt University is located there, along with Australian Defence Force facilities – the Royal Australian Army (Kapooka) and the Royal Australian Air Force (Forest Hill).
'Dubbo' means 'red earth'. Located on the Macquarie River, close to New South Wales' geographical centre, Dubbo is a major administrative, agricultural and commercial service centre. The city supports a large area from western New South Wales north to the Queensland border.
Reflecting its early establishment, Dubbo, regarded as the 'capital' of western New South Wales, has many heritage buildings that date from the second half of the nineteenth century. One of its major tourist attractions is the Western Plains Zoo, where hundreds of exotic animals live in open-range environments along with more than 1,000 native animals and birds.
Toowoomba is located 125km west of Brisbane on the eastern rim of the Darling Downs, the most productive agricultural region in Queensland. Toowoomba is the largest inland provincial urban centre in Australia (Canberra is the largest inland city in Australia), supporting manufacturing industries based on the agricultural produce grown in the Darling Downs.