Millaa Millaa, a rural town, is 70 km south-west of Cairns and due-west of Innisfail. It is at nearly the southerly limit of the Atherton and Evelyn Tablelands, and was opened for settlement ten or more years after dairying was established at Atherton. It is thought that the name was derived from an Aboriginal expression describing a fruit-bearing plant.
When the first settlers came to Millaa Millaa their dairy produce had to be sent to the Golden Grove factory (Atherton) or to Malanda (1919). Consequently early settlement was confronted by both scrub forests and the problem of distance. A school was opened in 1918, a sure indication of settlement underway, and Millaa Millaa's first agricultural show was held in 1919.
Upon the railway being extended from Malanda in 1921 the Millaa Millaa Hotel was opened, and the Millaa Millaa Sawmilling Company started in 1924. Dairy produce was conveyed to nearby Malanda until the Millaa Millaa Co-operative (1930) was opened. Timber was important: massive logs, eight feet in diameter and up to 30 feet long (the maximum allowed by the railways) were hauled out of the forest, and there were two sawmills and two timber merchants in the town. Timber output would in fact expand with the demands of World War II.
Methodist, Catholic and Anglican churches were opened (1929, 1937, 1939) and the Royal Palace Theatre drew eager audiences. A maternity hospital (1927) was clearly a necessary facility, and an unusual addition to the town was the Beachview healing centre which by 1950 had 500 staff and patients.
In the 1960s dairying declined (130 suppliers in 1960, 58 in 1971), the railway closed in 1964, a veneer mill closed and the dairy factory was amalgamated with the Malanda Dairy Association in 1973. The town's population nearly halved between the 1950s and 2000.
In 1965 the Millaa Millaa Co-operative had changed from butter to cheese production, winning several prizes. After it closed it was named the Old Millaa Millaa Cheese Factory and used for retail and café purposes.
Millaa Millaa has local shops, a tourist park, the Eacham historical museum, a golf club, a primary school and the Mungalli biodynamic cheese factory. The Liberty picture theatre (1947) is on the Australian heritage register. The nearby Millaa Millaa waterfalls are listed on the Queensland heritage register. Millaa Millaa's census populations have been:
Millaa Millaa: a pictorial record from 1910, Millaa Millaa, Eacham Historical Society, 1988
Anne Statham, Cows in the vine scrub: a history of dairying on the Atherton Tableland, Malanda, Malanda Dairyfoods, 1998
Harvey Lovewell (ed), Recollections of Millaa Millaa: stories from the people of Millaa Millaa and surrounding districts, Millaa Millaa Centenary Celebration Committee, 2011