Silkwood, a rural town of about 320 people, is 90 km south-east of Cairns and 25 km south of Innisfail. It was named after a tree-covered hill, which could have had any of several 'silkwood' species native to north Queensland and valued for furniture or building. In all cases the timber displays a silky lustre.
The name was given by A.J. Daveson to the house he built in the early 1900s, and when a postal facility was established in his house it was named the Silkwood office. Silkwood was at the junction of the tramlines from Maria Creek and Liverpool Creek/Japoonvale where bananas were grown and timber taken out. A school opened in 1916. In 1919 a sawmill was opened at Silkwood, cutting, among other things, sleepers for the Cairns to Ingham railway connection. The line reached Silkwood in 1924.
There were ambitious plans to open up lands for tropical fruit and dairying, and toward the late 1920s settlers at Japoonvale and Silkwood obtained a government subsidised dairy at Silkwood. It also drew on suppliers at Mena Creek and Utchee Creek, continuing until the 1940s when the Millaa Millaa factory came into operation. Many of the dairy farms changed to beef cattle.
Silkwood's population approached 800 in the 1930s, and the Post Office Directory (1935) recorded two hotels, a cash store, Silkwood Caen Stores, a butcher, a baker, several other shops and Silkwood Motors.
The present day town has local shops and tradespeople, a hotel, a bowling club and State and Catholic primary schools (1916, 1948). The town's District Action Group carried out town improvements to maintain the population level, and received a regional achiever award in 2004. Two years later Cyclone Larry roared through Silkwood, damaging or unroofing nearly all the houses.
On 3 February 2011 the Category 5 Cyclone Yasi crossed the Queensland coast centred 50 km south of Silkwood. Although having some protection by its inland location, Silkwood’s houses and businesses suffered damage and destruction.
Silkwood's census populations have been: