Walsh Shire (1889-1932) began with an area of about 4100 sq miles, which was reduced to about 3300 sq miles by the 1930s. It was headquartered at Irvinebank, a mining town 80 km south-west of Cairns. The shire was named after the Walsh River. One of the river's tributaries starts near Irvinebank, and the Walsh joins the Mitchell River half way across Cape York.

The Walsh River was named by William Hann, explorer and pastoralist, in 1872; William Walsh was the Parliamentary Secretary for Public Works (1870-73).

In the early 1880s tin lodes were discovered in the Walsh River area, with particularly rich ones found on Gibbs Creek at Montalbion and Irvinebank (1882). (Gibbs Creek is a tributary of the Walsh.) A third find was made at Stannary Hills on Eureka Creek in 1884, 15 km north of Irvinebank.

The mining magnate, John Moffat made Irvinebank the centre of his mining and smelting empire, and he also had a smelter at Montalbion. In 1889 the Walsh local government division was severed from Woothakata division, with an office at Montalbion. The office was moved to Irvinebank at about the time Walsh division became a shire in 1902. Moffat's tin empire began a long-term decline in 1914, sapping the shire of much of its prosperity. In 1932 Walsh shire was abolished and added to Woothakata (later Mareeba) shire. Its census populations were:

Census Date Population
1891 1523
1911 4153
1921 1782

Irvinebank, Stannary Hills, Herberton Minerals Area and Woothakata Shire entries


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