Gympie Regional Council was formed in 2008 by the amalgamation of Cooloola and Kilkivan Shires and the southern part (30%) of Tiaro Shire. Cooloola Shire had been formed in 1993 by the amalgamation of Gympie City and Widgee Shire.
Gympie Regional Council extends inland from the coast of Cooloola National Park for about 150 km, and its north-south extremities are Theebine and the approach to Kenilworth. The constituent shires' contributions to the new regional council were:
Gympie and its suburbs had a population of 17,169 (2006).
Cooloola Shire's coastal towns of Rainbow Beach and Tin Can Bay had nearly 3000 people and Kilkivan Shire's towns of Goomeri and Kilkivan had around 500 and 340 people respectively. The more populated towns of Murgon and Wondai are in South Burnett Regional Council and are between 5 and 20 km beyond Goomeri.
The North Coast railway (1889) passes through the regional council area and at Gympie there was a branch line into the forest-plantation and farm towns of Kandanga and Imbil. Further north, another branch runs west to Kilkivan (1886) and on to Goomeri and Kingaroy (1902, 1904).
The northern continuation of the Connondale Range, the Jimna Range, separated Kilkivan and Cooloola Shires. The range and the undulating westwards grazing lands support mainly beef herds. Agriculture (and a little mining) accounted for 38% of employment in the former Kilkivan shire in 2001. A similar proportion applied in Tiaro Shire, and in Cooloola Shire agriculture and an active forestry industry accounted for 13% of total employment.
Gympie is the main centre for wholesale and retail distribution, and accounted for 56% of employment in those industries in the former Cooloola Shire. The other 44% was found in Tin Can Bay, Rainbow Beach, the Mary Valley towns such as Imbil and other villages. For the Gympie Regional Council, however, nearly 90% of wholesale and retail employment was in the former Cooloola Shire (2001).
The median ages of the populations in 2006 were 41 years (Cooloola) and 43 (Kilkivan), compared with 37 for Australia. The older rural population and the attraction of retirement places like Cooloola Cove were underlying causes.
Cooloola and Kilkivan Shires and Gympie entries