Home Hill, a rural town of 2900 people, is 75 km south-east of central Townsville and 11 km from Ayr. It is situated south of the Burdekin River on the Lower Burdekin delta.
The area was part of the Inkerman pastoral estate (1862) which by the end of the century was held by the North Australian Pastoral Company. In 1906 a public meeting in Ayr petitioned the Government for repurchase of the estate and its subdivision for farming. Aware of the good supplies of bore water for irrigation the Government proceeded as the petitioners requested. Co-incidentally, the local sugar processing king, John Drysdale, set about building the Inkerman crushing mill, tapping the foreseeable cane supply from the Inkerman repurchase and protecting his other mills around Ayr from a Government central mill. The Inkerman farm lots sold quickly when offered in 1911.
Cut off from Ayr by an unbridged Burdekin River, a township was needed. Placed near a lagoon and surveyed in 1911, it was named Holme Hill. Soon changed to Home Hill, the connection to Inkerman was possibly Home Ridge, the British 2nd Division's main position in the Battle of Inkerman in the Crimean War in 1854.
The Inkerman crushing mill was opened in 1914, connected to Ayr by a low level railway bridge (1913) over the Burdekin. The southwards rail connection to Bowen was also made in 1913. A flooded Burdekin, nevertheless, could separate injured people from the Ayr hospital, and a road bridge was not built until 1923. A private hospital was thus opened in Home Hill in 1915.
Home Hill's cane farms needed irrigation water during the annual dry spell. Hollow spears driven down into the gravel beds drew a good supply of water, and power plants were needed to raise the water to farm level. A drought in 1915 proved the need for a central electricity supply for pumping, and the Inkerman Water Supply Board (1917) constructed a power house and electricity reticulation system to the numerous local wells. Fluming, rather than porous earthen channels, conveyed the pumped water to the cane blocks. Premier Theodore officially opened the power house in 1922. The next year the town was put on a reticulated supply and the power house was used continuously until 1953.
Home Hill's first agricultural show was held in 1928, and the town was the base for the North Queensland Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. The show began as a modest event and in 1935 secured its own ground on the irrigation reserve. A rodeo was organised in 1932 and after the war it was revived as a fundraiser for a memorial hall. After the hall was completed in 1960 it was used as the venue for a district ball which accompanied the annual rodeo which by then was a combined Ayr-Home Hill event. The memorial hall, a testament to the local self help, was modernised in 1982 and named the Burdekin Memorial Hall. The Home Hill Observer was published from 1929 to 1980, when it amalgamated with the Ayr Advocate.
The Home Hill high school was opened in 1964, and the town later became the district's post-secondary education centre with a rural training college (1970) which was converted to the Burdekin Agricultural College in 1986, and a TAFE (1985). Sugar is the dominant crop, but tomatoes, green vegetables and tropical fruit are grown. Mango gorwing increased five-fold during 1995-2004. There is also beef-cattle grazing. The power house was converted to a mill for processing rice grown in the Burdekin Irrigation Area. It was later listed on the Queensland heritage register and became the Powerhouse museum.
Home Hill has a showground, a racecourse (Burdekin Race Club), a museum, golf, swimming and bowling venues, a hospital, State (1914) and Catholic (1927) primary schools and a high school. The shopping centre includes two supermarkets and North Queensland's first community bank (2005). Its census populations have been:
John Kerr, Black snow and liquid gold, Ayr, Burdekin Shire Council, 1994