Gin Gin, a rural town of about 890 people on the Bruce Highway, is 40 km south-west of Bundaberg.
In 1848 Gregory Blaxland and his son-in-law, William Forster took up the Tirroan pastoral run in the future district of Gin Gin. (Blaxland was one of the three explorers who crossed the Blue Mountains and Forster was a future premier of New South Wales.) Tirroan was sold in a few years and renamed Gingin, perhaps after Gin Gin in Western Australia or as a derivation of an Aboriginal expression thought to describe thick scrub. Gingin was later owned by Thomas McIlwraith, Premier of Queensland, who replaced sheep with cattle.
The area was apparently known as Gin Gin, as the colonial government gave that name to a telegraph office on its railway line between Bundaberg and Gladstone in 1874.
The Kolan local-government division (1879) chose Gin Gin as its administrative centre. At about that time copper mining began further west at New Moonta, and Mount Perry emerged as an important mining centre. A railway line from Bundaberg to Mount Perry was built during 1881-84, passing through Gin Gin in 1881.
A primary school was opened in 1882, a school in 1883, and a Catholic church and a handsome Oddfellows Lodge hall were opened in 1889. Apart from beef-cattle grazing, there was considerable maize growing, timber milling and sugar-cane cultivation. Maize and timber were transported in large quantities by railway, but cane was crushed at a government central mill (1896). The mill came under co-operative ownership in 1927.
Between 1901 and 1911 Gin Gin's population more than tripled, and it was described in 1903 in the Australian Handbook:
By 1904 there was sufficient diversity in Gin Gin's economy for the formation of an agricultural, pastoral and industries society.
A hospital was opened in 1915, superseding a nursing and maternity facility. The town's interwar population was a decline on its 1911 figure, but postwar prosperity enabled the connection of reticulated electricity (1952) and a town sewerage scheme (1967). A high school was opened in 1973.
Gin Gin has the former Kolan Shire offices, a heritage-listed railway station terminus (since the 1960s), a hospital, bowling, golf and swimming facilities, state primary and high schools (1881, 1972), three motels, local shops and an abattoir. There are also a visitor information centre and a historical society museum.
Gin Gin's census populations have been:
Bundaberg Genealogical Association, Journey through the Gin Gin districts with our residents, Bundaberg, Bundaberg Genealogical Association, 1998
Joy Mullett, Centenary, Shire of Kolan, 1879-1979, Gin Gin, Kolan Shire Council, 1979