Cawarral, a former gold-mining town, is 20 km north-east of Rockhampton. It was named after the Cawarral pastoral station.
Minor gold finds occurred in the Cawarral district in 1863 and 1868, but the finding of two large nuggets at Cawarral and nearby Mount Wheeler in 1869 provoked a rush. The Cawarral township began in the following year and a primary school was opened in 1874. By then, part of the pastoral run had been opened up for selection.
The mixed mining and grazing economy sustained a town with three hotels, two boarding houses, four stores, three bakers, two butchers and a blacksmith. The average school attendance was 80 (1891). As mining tailed off the number of hotels decreased, but a profile of the town was published in 1903 in the Australian Handbook:
In 1909 a railway extension was put through Cawarral when the line to Yeppoon was opened. The line also passed through Mount Chalmers, a new mining town (copper) to which most of the mining activity had gone.
Cawarral has a general store, a community hall, a kindergarten and a state primary school. It had a census population of 56 in 1881. In 2006, the census population was 1099 and the school had an enrolment of 220. Many families have chosen a rural domicile, and work in Rockhampton or Yeppoon.