Harrisville is a rural town 25 km south of Ipswich. It was named after the brothers George and John Harris who acquired land in the area to grow cotton during the shortage caused by the American civil war. The Harris brothers erected a cotton gin c1862, around which Harrisville developed.

Formation of the town (apart from the cotton gin) probably began with the Royal Hotel (1875), and the opening of a branch railway line from Ipswich in 1882 placed the emerging farm community in readier contact with markets. A school was opened in 1889, and within the next two years a school of arts and a Presbyterian church opened and Harrisville was made the administrative centre of the Normanby Shire (1890). In 1903 Harrisville was described as follows in the Australian handbook:

The Sacred Heart Catholic church was opened in 1909.

Harrisville lay beyond the Ipswich coal fields. Its economy was based on a variety of primary industries, occasioning much stopping and starting along the long railway journey when calves, pigs, maize, cream or milk were loaded. (The rail service was frustratingly slow, even though picturesque, and was closed in 1964). By 1920 Harrisville had three hotels, two banks, two blacksmiths, four storekeepers and several trades people. A private hospital (1911) continued until 1973.

Normanby Shire (named after Normanby Homestead and the Marquis of Normanby, Queensland's Governor 1871-74) had an area of 609 sq km and a population of about 2200 people when it was described in 1949 in the Australian Blue Book:

Normanby Shire was incorporated into Moreton Shire in the same year this description was published, 1949, and Moreton Shire was amalgamated with Ipswich City in 1995. In March 2008 Harrisville was detached from Ipswich City and placed with Scenic Rim Regional Council.

Harrisville has two hotels, a generously proportioned school of arts, a historical museum in the Elanda House homestead, a bowling club, a primary school and a general store. Its census populations have been:

 area Census Date Population
Harrisville 1901 245
  1921 490
  1954 339
  1986 303
  2001 340
  2006 388
  2011 427
Normanby Shire 1911 2482
  1933 2487
  1947 2194

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

UQ Logo