Just over a two-hour drive from Rockhampton, but a lengthy nine-hours or 825km from Brisbane, Blackwater is a small inland town in Central Queensland. Its population at the 2006 Census was a little over 5000, with a young median age of 29 that same year, seven years below the state average (36) according to SQM Research.
Nevertheless, it plays a major role in the region’s mining industry, with six major open cut coal mines and one underground mine operating outside of the town. These mines produce millions of tonnes of coking and steaming coal each year, which are then exported worldwide to Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom, France, and many other countries. The steaming coal produced is also used for power generation within Queensland.
It therefore comes as no surprise that Blackwater is known as the ‘Coal Capital of Queensland’, with mining being the primary employer in the town. According to ABS estimates, 26.3% of the local workforce was employed in intermediate production in 2008 while 14.9% were tradespersons.
Meanwhile, the area’s property market has also been on the up, with recent growth figures outstripping the ten-year average annual rate. Median house prices in Blackwater are still an affordable at less than $400,000, and rental yields are knocking on double figures.
Blackwater Real Estate sales consultant Leanne Ellis says the area’s booming mining industry means housing shortages are an issue, and rent prices in Blackwell will only continue rising.
“I would say your average rent price, over the last four months, has jumped between $100 and $200 a week. They are definitely skyrocketing,” Ellis said.
Renters made up 52% of the market in 2006 according to SQM Research, and the huge demand for rental property means monthly vacancy rates are on or around 0%. This bodes well for investors who are looking for strong rental returns from their properties, as mining continues to bring workers into Blackwater.
“From an investor’s perspective, at this point in time, they really can’t go wrong,” Ellis concludes.