Farleigh, a rural town, is 11 km north-west of Mackay. It was named after the Farleigh farm selection, which was probably named after one of several Farleighs in England.

In the early 1880s the English agricultural investor, Sir John Lawes, acquired Farleigh and several other properties, intending to establish a large sugar estate. In 1883 he built the Farleigh crushing mill, which in the next decade absorbed the operations of the nearby Ashburton mill. A tram-line carried the Ashburton cane to Farleigh. Soil husbandry, however was inadequate, and depleted production brought about the closure of the Farleigh mill in 1900.

Lawes' Farleigh estate was sold off at a low price, and the purchasers cleared fresh land and re-opened the mill in 1904. There was also a transfer of land tenure, from estate farming to small-farm leaseholds. The resulting settlement brought about the need for a school (1909), and within a few years the Farleigh Hotel was opened. The North Coast railway was extended from Mackay to Farleigh in 1918 and five years later the closing of the Homebush mill increased the throughput of Farleigh.

Ownership of the mill was transferred to a co-operative arrangement in 1926. There were many farm holdings around Farleigh, several owned by Maltese and Italians, but the township had only a few businesses apart from the mill: a store, the hotel, a chemist, a butcher, a post master and the railway station. Farleigh's population peaked in the early postwar years.

The town is surrounded by cane fields, poinciana and mango trees, and has a general store and a tavern.

Roadworks to repair damaged sections of the Bruce Highway at Farleigh following the 2011 floods, were undertaken in 2012.

Its census populations have been:

Census DatePopulation

John Kerr, Pioneer pageant: a history of Pioneer Shire Council, Mackay, Pioneer Shire Council, 1980

K. W. Manning, In their own hands: a north Queensland sugar story, Farleigh Co-op Sugar Milling Association, 1983


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

UQ Logo