The Cairns South State Development Area (SDA) was established to provide land for regionally significant industrial development. The SDA will facilitate economic growth and diversification of the Cairns economy as well as job creation to support the long-term needs of the Cairns region.

Declared in November 2018 and varied in February 2020, the 1159 hectare Cairns South SDA is located over two non-contiguous areas. The northern part is located east of the Bruce Highway between Edmonton and Gordonvale at Wrights Creek and the southern part is located adjacent to the Mulgrave Mill in Gordonvale.

The SDA's strategic location will enable the development of industries that require large blocks of land, extended operating hours and separation from sensitive land uses. Being adjacent to the Bruce Highway and North Coast rail line, the SDA offers a key opportunity to support anticipated trends and growths in the rail freight sector, including increased volumes of freight and longer trains.

A significant portion of land within the SDA is anticipated to remain for the ongoing cultivation of sugar cane and supply to the Mulgrave Mill, act as a buffer for industry, or be retained for environmental management purposes.

SDA variation

The Cairns South SDA was varied in February 2020 to include an additional 303 hectares of land around the Mulgrave Mill at Gordonvale. The SDA variation supports the Mulgrave Mill’s future diversification plans, including industrial development opportunities that value-add to the sugar refining process. The variation also provides greater certainty to the sugar industry by retaining land for cane supply to the Mulgrave Mill as well as protecting the Mulgrave Mill from urban encroachment.

Preparation of a Cairns South SDA Development Scheme

A development scheme is a planning instrument specific to an SDA. It is used by the Coordinator-General to assess and decide SDA applications for development.

The Office of the Coordinator-General has prepared a draft Cairns South SDA Development Scheme (PDF icon 2.5 MB).

The draft Cairns South SDA Development Scheme has been informed by engagement with key stakeholders and detailed technical analysis, including consideration of site characteristics, infrastructure and traffic requirements, and social, economic and environmental factors.

Until the Development Scheme has been approved by Governor in Council, land use planning decisions will continue to be regulated in accordance with the current planning framework. Contact the Cairns Regional Council for more information.

Public consultation

The Coordinator-General invited the public to have their say on the potential SDA expansion and draft Cairns South SDA Development Scheme (PDF icon 2.5 MB).

Public consultation commenced on 10 September 2019 and concluded on 11 October 2019.

Following public consultation, the Cairns South SDA was varied by regulation on 21 February 2020 to include an additional 303 hectares of land around the Mulgrave Mill in Gordonvale.

The Coordinator-General is currently finalising the draft Cairns South SDA Development Scheme prior to its consideration by the Governor in Council.

The Cairns South SDA map

The Cairns South SDA regulation map (PDF icon 526 KB) defines the boundary of the SDA.

The interactive map below identifies the Cairns South SDA boundary.

Further information

For further information on the Cairns South SDA contact the SDA Division on 1800 001 048 or via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For further information on State development areas see our general fact sheets and guidelines.