Suburb spotlight: Moranbah mining bust felt heavily

The vagaries of resources booms and busts have been heavily felt at the central Queensland mining town of Moranbah, about 193 kilometres south-west of Mackay.

The coal town of around 10,000 is on the Peak Downs Highway on the way to Clermont in the Bowen Basin. It was established in 1969 to service the expanding mining industry.

When coal prices were booming towards the middle of last year, so was the town’s real estate, with some properties selling for record prices of $900,000, and others renting for up to $4,000 a week.

That’s certainly not the case now. A drop in coal prices has undermined real estate, and the huge numbers of fly-in-fly-out workers living in camps – up to 10,000 workers - has caused social pressures, residents say. They don’t help real estate as they live outside the town.

Terry Ryder, founder of, said earlier this year that the use of FIFO workers removes pressure on local rents and prices. Workers fly in or drive in for their shift, stay in temporary workers accommodation provided by the mining company and head home when their shift is done.

‘’There are all kinds of negative impacts of this – and this is what a recent federal inquiry looked at – but rising rents and prices is not among them,’’ he said.

‘’The BMA (BHP-Mitsubishi Alliance) plan to have 100% FIFO workers on two new mines in the basin has all kinds of impacts on towns like Moranbah, but they don’t include pushing up property prices because none of the FIFO people live in the town.

‘’Moranbah rents and prices are falling right now, with residential vacancies up around 7%. In nearby Dysart, vacancies are approaching 15% and rental yields, previously above 10%, are now down around 5%.’’

Long time resident John Wood, of Moranbah Real Estate, described the local real estate market as ‘’slow, flat’’ but said it was ‘’at the point where it can’t fall any further’’.

Average prices are now $340,000 to $360,000 for houses with average rentals around $400 a week (boom times $1800) or, for newer style houses, $1000 a week (boom $3000).

‘’Everyone wants 10% yields but the norm is around 7% now,’’ Wood said.

For sale:

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Moranbah Real Estate is selling 22 Lambert Court, Moranbah  (pictured above) for $780,000. The single storey brick rendered house on a rectangular block has five bedrooms and two bathrooms. It has been newly tenanted at $2,000 a week. It is four years old with spacious living areas, floating timber floors and covered entertainment areas. The kitchen has a breakfast bar and stainless steel appliances.

There’s a lock up double garage with remote control door, Colorbond shed and carport.

For rent:

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Moranbah Real Estate is offering 29 Jackson Avenue, Moranbah (pictured above) for $1,000 a week. The two storey house has seven bedrooms, three bathrooms and six-car accommodation. It has a large kitchen upstairs and new kitchen downstairs. There’s a low maintenance yard. The bond is $4000.

RP Data reports that over the past 12 months 222 houses were sold in Moranbah for a median price of $742,825 and at a 50-day average on the market. Forty-one units were sold at a $385,000 median.


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