Capalaba, a suburb of over 17,000 people, is 20 km south-east of central Brisbane. It is situated on the eastern side of Tingalpa Creek, and it is probable that the bridging of the creek at Cleveland Road in 1874 stimulated the opening of the Capalaba Hotel a few years later. It is thought that the name was derived from an Aboriginal word referring to a place of possums. A school was opened in 1880.
Until the opening of the railway along a coastal route to Cleveland in 1889, the Cleveland Road was well used and the hotel and surrounding locality attracted farm selectors and timber cutters. With its being bypassed, Capalaba's growth stagnated, and its post office was reduced to a receiving office in 1892. Its census population in 1921 was 110.
It was in the 1930s that signs of fresh growth emerged: a progress association was formed in 1933, the year before a school of arts hall opened. The first of scores of residential subdivisions occurred in 1949. Until then the farm lands were used for dairying, fruit and vegetables. Increased local traffic encouraged farms to open roadside stalls, but the march of subdividers was inexorable. Several garages and local businesses opened in the early 1950s, along with a drive-in theatre (1955-97). An entirely new shopping centre emerged with the Capalaba Park drive-in (1981), which was more than doubled in size with the nearby Capalaba Central (1994). Capalaba became a shopping hub of Redlands Shire (Redlands City, 2008).
There are two State primary schools (1874, 1984), a Catholic primary school (1989), a State high school (1978), Catholic, Presbyterian, Salvation Army and Uniting churches and a range of recreation facilities in reserves adjacent to Tingalpa Creek. Capalaba Place, a cultural centre and auditorium, was opened in 1996. The Redlands Indigiscapes Centre occupies a reserve on tributaries of the Tingalpa Creek, one of several such reserves in Capalaba.
The areas adjacent to Redlands Indigiscapes are mostly occupied by rural/residential living. On the west side of Tingalpa Creek there is a similar lightly populated area, Capalaba West. It is part of the City of Brisbane. Capalaba West has a large Tingalpa Creek Reserve, and a few of its subdivisions are still used for horticulture.
Capalaba's census populations have been:
Capalaba West's census population in 2006 was 456.
Bayside Bulletin, 28 October 1997
Mary Howells, Living on the edge: along Tingalpa Creek, Cleveland, Redland Shire Council, 2000