Jondaryan Shire, an area of 1910 sq km, and generally 150 km west of central Brisbane, was amalgamated with Toowoomba City and six other shires in 2008 to form Toowoomba Regional Council. It adjoined West Toowoomba, where there are undulating basaltic uplands. By far the largest part of the shire comprised blacksoil alluvial plains, shading into irregular plains in the west where the shire met the Condamine River. The road/rail corridor from Toowoomba to Dalby bordered the north of the shire.

The shire was named after the Jondaryan pastoral station (1842), one of Queensland's largest, and one of the longest to resist subdivision for farm selections. The station was on the shire's central blacksoil plains. In 1867, when the railway line was extended from Toowoomba, neither Oakey nor Jondaryan were more than town reserves on a government map. Settlement soon followed the railway, and the Jondaryan local government division was formed in 1880, taking in Pittsworth and Millmerran.

In 1913 several changes occurred. A branch railway line from Oakey north to Cooyar was opened, the shire gained part of the Gowrie local-government division (eastwards), but Pittsworth and Millmerran shires were severed. These boundary alterations gave Jondaryan Shire its final shape and area.

Another railway line, from Oakey to Cecil Plains, was opened in two stages from 1915 to 1917. In the very south of the shire a line ran from Wyreema, through Southbrook to Pittsworth (1887). The eastern part of the shire was exceptionally well serviced by rail, and the western reaches had two lines along the north and south borders.

There were several coal mines adjacent to and north of the main railway line at Oakey and Kingsthorpe. The earliest were worked from the 1880s and the last continued until the 1980s. Sheep and wheat were historically the dominant industries while dairying was concentrated in the east of the shire. The 1946 Australian Blue Book described Jondaryan Shire as follows:

The following figures show changes in livestock and grain production in the period 1945-1992:

  1945 1965 1975 1992
Wheat (tonnes) 30,077 65,791 39,950 *-
Barley (tonnes) 406 24,542 33,196 *-
Sorghum (tonnes) 2344 33,196 66,610 *-
Sheep (no.) 69,406 45,113 15,186 10,680
Dairy Cattle (no.) 25,703 20,017 17,707 9369
Beef Cattle (no.) 14,241 16,605 28,807 43,740
*In 1992 there were 45,721 ha of cereals planted in Jondaryan Shire. Yield tonnages were not published.

The number of pigs doubled to over 17,000 in the period from 1945 to 1992. Whilst dryland cropping is a major industry, there is some irrigation in the west, drawing on the Condamine River and aquifers.

Toowoomba's urban growth spread into Jondaryan Shire at Westbrook and Glenvale. This urbanisation, and Oakey's near doubling of population in the period 1971-2001, accounted for much of Jondaryan Shire's changes in population and employment profile. As the following figures disclose, agriculture, once the most significant source of employment, declined in importance:

  % of total
in Shire
1971 2001
Agriculture 50 15.5
Wholesale and retail 11 20.8
Construction 7 5.2
Manufacturing 8 14.8
Health and Community Services 6 8.3

Jondaryan Shire's census populations were:

Census Date Population
1911 7469
1921 *5170
1961 5785
1976 6576
1986 9457
1996 11,056
2001 12,274
2006 14,094
*After the severance of Pittsworth etc.

N.J. Douglas, Jondaryan Shire handbook: an inventory of the agricultural resources and production of Jondaryan Shire, Queensland, Brisbane, Department of Primary Industries, 1977

Jondaryan Shire Centenary 1859-1959, Jondaryan 1959

Cotswold Hill, Gowrie Junction, Jondaryan, Kingsthorpe, Oakey, Southbrook, Westbrook and Wyreema entries



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