Cracow, a former gold mining township, is 154 km south of Biloela, 190 km south-west of Gladstone and 475 km north-west of Brisbane. It was named after the Cracow pastoral station (1851), itself presumably named after the Polish city of that name.
Gold was discovered in the Cracow district in or about 1916, but no mining eventuated. In 1931, with the Queensland Government encouraging gold prospecting as an antidote to the economic Depression, prospecting began at the reef, the site of the 1916 discovery. A general rush was under way by May 1931 and company operations began early in 1932, conducted by Golden Plateau NL. Cracow township lots were auctioned, and by November 1932 there was an estimated population of over 2000 people. A contemporary booklet recorded several bakers, butchers and fruiterers, three drapers, two cordial makers, three billiard rooms, two picture theatres, five garages, three sawmills and a brickworks. Most buildings were unadorned, tin-clad boxes with some businesses operating from rudimentary tents and canvas awnings.
By 1940 Cracow was the Banana Shire's largest town, with a hospital, court house, school, ambulance service, shops and public buildings. An estimated 19,000 kg of gold was mined by the time Golden Plateau ceased operations in the mid-1970s. In 1972 several services remained, including grocers, drapers, twelve clubs, a baker and intriguingly, both picture theatres. The hospital continued until the 1990s and is today deserted, while the State primary school, opened in 1933, closed in 1997. The shire has devised an historic walk of Cracow, past the hall, the hotel, the Anzac memorial, the old school and the remaining shops. A short distance to the north is 'Cracow Beach' with an impressive stand of Livistona palm trees. The town received something of a boost in 2003, with the reopening of the gold mine by Newcrest Mining Ltd.
Cracow's census populations have been:
'Cracow', Good Weekend magazine, The Age, 27 September 2003
Introducing Queensland's Banana Shire, Biloela, Banana Shire Council, 1981
Betty Perry, Two valleys - one destiny: a history of Banana, 'shire of opportunity', Biloela, Banana Shire Council, 2005
E.S. Watson, Cracow: pioneer pictures of Cracow goldfield, Bundaberg, Express Printing Works, 1932