Boonah Shire, south-west of Brisbane, was immediately south of Ipswich City and extended to the State border at the McPherson Range. Its western border was the scenic rim of mountain ranges which are crossed at Cunningham's Gap just west of Aratula. The shire's area was 1922 sq km. In 2008 it was amalgamated with most of Beaudesert Shire and part of Ipswich City to form Scenic Rim Regional Council.

Local government began with the Goolman Division (1879), with offices at Flinders (Peak Crossing), outside the former shire. The southwards extension of the railway from Ipswich to Harrisville (1882) and thence to Boonah (1887) followed the clearing of fertile scrub land for farm selections. The Goolman shire office was transferred to Boonah in 1888, and the change of name to Boonah Shire occurred in 1937.

The shire's three principal towns were Boonah, Kalbar and Aratula. There are numerous villages and localities, particularly in the north. An early European settlement was Fassifern, boasting the district's first inn (1840s), post office and registry office. Fassifern was one of six original pastoral runs (first occupied 1842-45) which comprised Boonah shire.

Boonah Shire was described in the 1946 Australian Blue Book:

The shire attracted German settlers, and was notable for its numerous churches and schools of arts, the latter which opened at Boonah, Kalbar, Aratula, Maroon (1904), Mount Alford (1907) and Roadvale (1904). The Roadvale school of arts was an elaborately detailed timber building, one of the most attractive buildings in the shire, but was burnt down in 1968. A number of other types of buildings have been preserved by removal to Templin, a former German village north-west of Boonah.

After scrub clearing and timber cutting, the shire's farmers moved to maize growing, dairying, pig-raising and vegetables. Dairying gave way to irrigated horticulture and cattle grazing during the 1960s. In 1993 Boonah Shire had 38,000 beef cattle and 6300 dairy cattle. The railway lines through Kalbar and Boonah closed in the 1960s, but the shire's population nevertheless showed steady growth throughout most of the postwar years, assisted by tourism and roadside retail activity along the Cunningham Highway.

Census populations were:

Shire Census Date Population
Goolman Shire 1911 5289
  1933 6430
Boonah Shire 1954 5929
  1976 5378
  1991 6541
  2001 8099
  2006 8642

Murray Johnson and Kay Saunders, Working the land, Runcorn, Queensland State Archives, 2007

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

Serving the shire: a history of local government in Boonah Shire from 1879, Boonah,  Boonah Shire Council, 1980

Boonah Shire Council cultural heritage study, Toowoomba, Conservation Management Planners & Associates, 2002

Boonah, Dugandan, Kalbar, Roadvale and Rosevale entries



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