Brandon, a rural town, is 7 km west of Ayr and 70 km south-east of Townsville. It was named after Henry Brandon who was associated with the Pioneer sugar plantation in Mackay. Upon disposing of his Mackay interest, Brandon acquired land west of Sheep Station Creek and in 1883 set about installing a sugar mill, named Pioneer. There was a web of sugar plantation selections in the area, and one enterprising selector close to the site of the mill subdivided his land for a township in 1882. He named it Brandon.

Within months of the subdivision a hotel, the Pioneer, was opened, and the sugar mill was in operation by 1884. A school was opened in 1888, an Anglican church in 1895 and a Catholic church in 1897. Brandon was preferred over Ayr by the Catholic authorities, to the extent of adding a convent school in 1912. The opening of a railway from Townsville to Ayr in 1901, however, ultimately ensured Ayr's supremacy.

In 1906 John Drysdale, proprietor of the Pioneer sugar mill, persuaded a foundry man, Alfred Green, to move from Townsville to Brandon to provide an engineering facility for the sugar industry. Green's Foundry, renamed Delta Iron Works in 1920, achieved its hundredth year in Brandon. By 1912 Brandon's population approached 700 people, but the influence of Ayr saw that figure almost halve by the 1940s. The convent school closed in 1923. Postwar growth has seen the 1912 figure surpassed, as intensive irrigation has enabled small farms to continue. A reticulated water supply was laid on in 1967, not least because backyard pumps were drawing up groundwater that was endangered by domestic pollution. A new water storage and pumping facility (2012) at Brandon provided further water security.

Fourteen workers were injured in 2008 when two vats containing sugar and mill mud heated to 110 degrees Celsius exploded at a laboratory at the Pioneer mill. The low pressure explosion caused a 1000-litre tank to topple onto a second tank, rupturing both and closing the mill for several months delaying the cane harvesting season.

Brandon has local shops, a hotel, a bowling club and a primary school. The timber Catholic church (1910) is on the Australian and Queensland heritage registers. It is a single-skin timber Gothic building in Spiller Street, next to the Renown theatre.

A five-year wetland project in the Barratta Creek catchment was funded to create a 10,000 hectare conservation area due to be established by 2017. 

Brandon's census populations have been:

Census DatePopulation

John Kerr, Black snow and liquid gold: a history of the Burdekin Shire, Ayr, Council of the Shire of Burdekin, 1994



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