Duaringa, a rural town on the Capricorn Highway, is 90 km south-west of Rockhampton. The origin of the name is obscure, possibly from an Aboriginal expression or based on the name of an early resident, Inga Anderson.

In 1867 an inland railway from Rockhampton to Westwood was opened, and nine years later it was extended to Boollburra, a few kilometres east of the site which from that time was named Duaringa. By 1879 the railway had gone on to Emerald, crossing what became Duaringa Shire.

The presence of the railway was accompanied by an influx of population, and the supervising local authority, the Banana Divisional Board, requested the severance of the Duaringa area. In 1881 the Duaringa Division was proclaimed.

Most of the division's area north of the railway was plains and lowlands with extensive brigalow, a hardy, shrubby acacia. To the south is the Blackdown tableland which merges with the Dawson Range. On the west is the Expedition Range. The main industry was pastoral, but in 1892 local coal deposits were mined about 15 km west of Blackwater. Several other mines around Blackwater were opened by 1905, and around Bluff during 1920-40. In 1946 Duaringa Shire was described in the Australian Blue Book:

In the late 1950s Bowen Basin coal deposits were investigated, and various open cut mines were opened around Blackwater in the next few decades. Most are outside the shire, but Blackwater became their dormitory town. Railway line branches were opened to Cook and South Blackwater mines (1970), Gregory and Oakey Creek mines north of Blackwater (1979) and the Curragh open cut (1983), the last-mentioned being in Duaringa Shire. There was also considerable clearing of brigalow country under a development scheme begun in 1962, particularly north of the Capricorn Highway.

Duaringa's Country Women's Association hall (CWA) was put up for sale in 2014 following declining membership.

The shire's main population centres were along the Capricorn Highway, in particular, Blackwater where the council offices were located. About 50 km south of Duaringa is the Woorabinda Shire, formerly Woorabinda Aboriginal community, established in 1927 when the Taroom settlement was removed from the Dawson River irrigation scheme.

Duaringa Shire's area was 17,752 sq km, and its census populations were:

Census Date Population
1911 1019
1966 2060
1971 4910
1981 8329
1991 10,255
2001 7882
2006 6744

In 2008 it was amalgamated with Emerald, Bauhania and Peak Down Shires to form Central Highlands Regional Council.

Duaringa's census populations have been:

census date population
2011 478

D. Turner, ed, Duaringa Shire, 100 years of local government 1881-1981, Duaringa, Duaringa Shire Council, 1990

J.D. Mullaly, Duaringa Shire handbook, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, 1972

Blackwater, Bluff and Woorabinda entries

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

UQ Logo