Kalbar, a rural town, is 70 km south-west of central Brisbane.

The area around Kalbar was part of the Fassifern pastoral run (1842), which was opened up for farm selections in 1871. Many of the settlers were German. In 1876-77 August Engels began trading from his home, and later from a small store. Initially known as Fassifern Scrub, the settlement around Engel's stores became known as Engelsburg. A change of name to Kalbar occurred in 1916, because of anti-German feeling. It is thought that the name was derived from an Aboriginal expression meaning 'bright' or 'star'; an earlier interpretation paradoxically put the meaning as 'dead' or 'forgotten'.

By 1900 there were a few stores and tradespeople, along with a primary school (1879) and four churches: Baptist (1877), Methodist (1888), Lutheran (c1883) and Anglican (1895-1976). The Lutheran church has a striking triple-tiered timber steeple. A school of arts was opened in 1906.

The principal farm crop at first was maize, followed by dairying. A dairy factory was opened in about 1900, and as dairying increased fodder crops replaced maize. Kalbar was an active farming township, unusually self-reliant in that it did not have a railway connection until 1916. The Kalbar and District Agricultural and Pastoral Association was formed in 1926.

The railway closed in 1960 and the dairy industry showed early signs of decline. Former dairy properties were turned over to irrigated agriculture, and potatoes became an important crop. A bulk grain storage facility at Kalbar is used for oil seeds.

Kalbar has a primary school, a school of arts (rebuilt after a fire in Kalbar in 1920), a showground, three churches, a general store, a supermarket and an engineering works. A heritage-listed timber house built in 1900 by a German merchant, George Wiss, has been restored for Bed and Breakfast accommodation. The former Wiss Brothers store also appears on the Queensland heritage register.

Kalbar's census populations have been:

Census DatePopulation
1901200
1911625
1954589
1976370
2001503
2006713
2011994

C.K. Pfeffer, The Fassifern story: a history of Boonah Shire and surroundings to 1989, Boonah, Boonah Shire Council, 1991

Aubrey Podlich, Engelsberg: our people our church, Kalbar, St John's Luthernan Church, 2005

Headwords: 
Copyright © Centre for the Government of Queensland, 2018. All rights reserved.
UQ Logo