Wowan, a rural town, is 70 km south-west of Rockhampton. The earliest place of European settlement in the Wowan district was Dundee (now Deeford), on the Dee River which flows through Mount Morgan. Dundee is about five km south-east of Wowan. It opened a local school in 1900 and had a slab-built hotel.

During the building of the railway from Mount Morgan to Dawson Valley (Theodore) a rail camp was set up near Dundee. Named 'Wowan' - understood to be from an Aboriginal word referring to the scrub turkey - the camp became the new district township. The Dundee hotel was moved there and rebuilt in two storeys in 1917. The Dawson Valley Dairy Cooperative was established at Wowan in 1916 and within three years there was a dairy factory. It ran until 1969 and had over 600 suppliers in the 1930s.

Wowan's rise in importance came in the mid 1920s: the Anglican church was removed from Mt Chalmers to Wowan in 1924, a Catholic church was opened in 1925, a hospital was established in the same year, and by the end of the decade there were Masonic, soldiers' memorial and school-of-arts halls. The Dawson Valley Agricultural and Pastoral Association (1927) was started in Wowan and mounted the first of many annual shows. The chief disappointment was a cotton ginnery (1922) which failed after one or two seasons.

In the 1950s-60s Wowan's school population increased as outlying schools were closed. Reticulated town electricity came in 1953 and a golf course was laid out in 1959. Wowan's economy relied on dairying which began to falter in the 1960s.

Wowan's proximity to Biloela and Moura, together with the change from intensive dairying to beef cattle and grains, has depleted the local population. The town that had shown decades of self-help has recycled the butter factory as a museum and built a multi-purpose centre. Wowan has golf and bowls clubs, a showground, the Commercial Hotel, a caravan park and a roadhouse. Its census populations have been:

Census DatePopulation
(plus district) 328

Betty Perry, Two Valleys - One Destiny: a history of Banana, 'shire of opportunity', Biloela, Banana Shire Council, 2005


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