Caboolture, an outlying suburb of metropolitan Brisbane, is 43 km north of the city's centre. It is thought that the name arose from the bay into which the Caboolture River runs (named by John Dunmore Lang in 1848), and was derived from an Aboriginal expression referring to the place of the carpet snake.
The Caboolture pastoral run, north-west of the junction of the Wararba Creek and the Caboolture River, was first taken up in 1850. The first established township was Upper Caboolture, but the Caboolture township was surveyed in 1869 where a road and stock route crossed the river. There were a ferry service, a store and a hotel, and a school was opened in 1873. The Caboolture local-government division (further described under Caboolture Shire) was formed in 1879. With fewer than 100 people in 1881, Caboolture was of minor consequence; but at about 250 people in the next decade and with a railway station at Morayfield on the south side of the river, there was a considerable township. It was described in 1893 in The Australian Handbook:
With a cooperative butter factory (1907) and a branch railway line to Woodford (1908), Caboolture's importance grew as a rural centre. Its three sawmills continued until after World War II. A private hospital was opened in 1919, the same year when a new bridge across the Caboolture River at Morayfield Road was opened.
Pugh's Almanac (1949) recorded the co-op dairy factory, the Caboolture District Co-op Store and a range of other shops, a picture theatre (1917), Carmody's Royal Hotel, a school of arts, the North Coast News (weekly) and five churches.
Soon after World War II the town's population began to grow; in the 1970s its growth quickened, with the rate scarcely altering in the ensuing decades (3248 to 16,519, 1971-2001).
The Shire Council built increasingly bigger administrative offices (1954, 1987), and celebrated its centenary in 1979 with a spectacular street parade and the Centenary Lakes project. Ten years before, Boylands opened their self-serve 4 Square supermarket in Mathew Terrace at the King Street corner.
Morayfield, Bellmere and Upper Caboolture became suburbs of Caboolture, with Morayfield joining up with Burpengary. Caboolture has state (1889), Catholic (1951) and Lutheran (1985) primary schools, state (1961) and Catholic (1928) secondary schools and a TAFE. West of the Lutheran school there are Tullawood State primary (1993) and high schools (1994).
In 2013 the State government announced the building of a new primary school at Caboolture as part of 10 new schools to be built in high-growth areas under a private-public partnership model, with the private companies responsible for maintaining the school for up to 30 years.
A reminder of Caboolture's rural origins is found in the showground reserve, which contains a historical village with numerous buildings from the shire re-erected on site. The shopping area, municipal offices and town square (1996-97) are clustered to the west of the railway station.
At and beyond the fringes of Caboolture's built-up area there are the Caboolture Golf Club (to the west), the airfield and St Michael's P-7 school (to the east).
Morayfield (see separate entry) has a large out-of-town shopping centre.
A one kilometre bend in the Caboolture River, south of the town centre, encloses Centenary Lakes Park and several sports venues.
Caboolture's census populations have been:
The census data for these years was for the Caboolture Statistical Local Area, which included some outlying localities of Caboolture. In 2006 the census population for the Caboolture township was 15,016. By 2006 Morayfield's population (18,020) had overtaken Caboolture's.
Stan Tutt, Caboolture country, Caboolture, Caboolture Historical Society, 1973