Burnett Shire, an area of 2004 sq km entirely surrounding Bundaberg city was amalgamated with Bundaberg city and Isis and Kolan shires in 2008 to form Bundaberg Regional Council. It extended from the Pacific Ocean to about 60 km inland, and was formed in 1994 by the union of most of Gooburrum and Woongarra Shires.

The Shire shared its name with the Burnett River, named after the colonial surveyor, James Charles Burnett in 1847. Burnett had been dispatched by New South Wales' Governor FitzRoy to identify navigable rivers for the emerging Queensland pastoral industry.

Burnett Shire's offices were in the coastal town of Bargara (population 5525 in 2006). The Shire's other towns included Burnett Heads (population 2419 in 2006), Elliott Heads and Innes Park. The port of Bundaberg (1958) at the mouth of the Burnett River is about 5 km from Burnett Heads.

Despite the Shire's predominant coastal centres of population, implying tourism and accommodation industries, its main industry was agriculture. In 2001, 20% of the workforce were engaged in agriculture, and accommodation/cafes scored a low 4.2%, less than half the percentage employed in health and community services. In reality, the important coastal industry was accommodation and services for retirees. Eighteen percent of the coastal towns' populations were 65 years or more, compared with 11% in the rest of the shire in 2001. The overall employment participation rate was 47.8%, low in Queensland's rankings, although not as low as Hervey Bay's (40.8%).

Agriculture was divided between sugar cane farms and field crops, the latter being the larger. The dominant field crop was tomatoes; others include capsicum, zucchini, cucumber and eggplant. Sugar continues to be processed at the Millaquin and Bingera mills (all Bundaberg Sugar Ltd) and exported from the bulk-handling facility at Bundaberg port. The Fairymead mill closed in 2005. Irrigation water is taken from the Burnett River, and can be topped up from the Fred Haigh dam (1974) on the Kolan River.

Burnett Shire's census populations were:

Census DatePopulation
*53% of this figure resided in the coastal areas adjoining Bundaberg.

Neville Rackemann, Growing harvest: Bundaberg district fruit and vegetable industry from 1869, Bundaberg, Bundaberg District Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, 1987

John Kerr, Southern sugar saga: a history of the sugar industry in the Bundaberg district, Bundaberg, Bundaberg Sugar Company, 1983

Bargara, Branyan, Bucca, Burnett Heads, Coral Cove, Elliott Heads, Innes Park, Lower Burnett and Kolan Localities, Moore Park and sharon entries



Copyright © Centre for the Government of Queensland, 2018. All rights reserved.

UQ Logo