Abstract: The role of towns and small business is poorly understood, yet towns are vital for the long-term viability of communities in rural and remote Australia. This case study in the central western region of Queensland (CWQ) examines the impacts of drought on rural towns and how to build a resilient regional community and alleviate hardship. Evidence was collected during drought from town businesses through surveys, interviews and a public meeting in 2017.Towns in CWQ are especially exposed to the risks of drought, as approximately half of the businesses are directly linked to agriculture. Townspeople are major contributors to social cohesion and resilience in rural and regional communities, which are often service and maintenance centres of nationally important infrastructure such as roads for inter-state freight transport and tourism. Drought and declining grazier incomes have led to reduced spending in towns. Populations have dropped sharply, as itinerant agricultural workers leave the region. The complex economic and social flow-on impacts of drought have resulted in lower socioeconomic resilience. The majority of community members interviewed expressed a desire to build secure livelihoods, which echoes other research where existing and new rangelands livelihoods are seen as contributing to the success of the nation, a common global desire. Local organisations in CWQ display innovative business and community strategies. Future actions need to support and build on these initiatives.A framework with the acronym D.U.S.T. has been developed, with associated actions aimed at building resilience in these communities. D.U.S.T. is appropriate for this often-dusty region, and stands for: D. Decide to act; U. Understand the context; S. Support and develop local capacities and institutions; and T. Transform regional governance.The key for decision-makers is to work with local people who understand the contextual complexity and local needs. Actions need to be based on principles of adaptability, equity and inclusiveness, and working with the whole of the community. Building on existing collaborations and innovations as well as transforming governance and secure funding arrangements are needed. Lessons from the communities in CWQ may help other rural and remote regions build resilience to cope with the unpredictable financial, social and environmental future.