Wondai Shire, an area of 3577 sq km, generally 200 km north-west of Brisbane was amalgamated with Kingaroy, Murgon and Nanango Shires in 2008 to form South Burnett Regional Council. It was named after the Wondai township in the former shire's eastern sector where the Murgon to Kingaroy railway line is situated.

The Shire's first pastoral settlement included the Mondure station (1844) in the east and the Boondooma station (1846) in the west. Closer-settlement resumptions of these leaseholds in 1903 led to the formation of the township and the creation of the shire in 1910 by severances from Kilkivan, Nanango, Rawbelle and Wambo Shires. The shire was first named Wienholt, after Arnold Wienholt who was the proprietor of Mondure when it was opened up for closer-settlement. Wienholt had an adventurous but finally tragic life, working as a British intelligence agent in Ethiopia where he was killed in 1940.

The Shire was renamed Wondai in 1914 when Murgon Shire was severed from it. Its eastern side had been served by rail since 1904, but the remainder relied on unpaved roads. A line westwards to Proston, approved in 1914, was opened nine years later. The line encouraged dairying, and the Proston butter factory was opened in 1934. The railway, however, ended at about one third the distance across the Shire, leaving the large western sector for beef cattle and a little dairying. A large dam, Lake Boondooma, at the confluence of the Stuart and Boyne Rivers, was built during 1979-82, but to supply water to the Tarong power station in neighbouring Nanango Shire.

Apart from some secondary industry in Wondai township, the shire's economy was and remained agricultural. It was described in 1946 in the Australian Blue Book:

The Shire's population peaked in the 1950s, falling during the 1960s-70s as dairying declined. The factories at Proston and Wondai closed in the 1970s. Diversification into crops was reflected in the Shire's agricultural statistics in 1993, 17000 ha under cereals, legumes and other field crops. In addition there were nearly 62,000 beef cattle, 27,000 pigs and 3000 dairy cattle.

Wondai Shire's census populations were:

Census Date Population
1921 3421
1954 4850
1966 4332
1976 3329
1986 3785
2001 4056
2006 4398

Tony Matthews, Landscapes of change: a history of the South Burnett, Wondai, Burnett Local Government Association, 1997

Proston and Wondai entries



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