Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of CouncilsEconomic profile
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Far North Queensland Regional

About the area

Name origin

Etheridge Shire is thought to be named after Donald Etheridge, a drover who took cattle through the area in 1864, or after Robert Etheridge, palaeontologist to the Geological Survey of Great Britain.

Location and boundaries

Etheridge Shire is located in Far North Queensland, about 1,800 kilometres north-west of the Brisbane CBD, and 400 kilometres south-west of the Cairns CBD. Etheridge Shire is bounded by Mareeba Shire in the north, the Tablelands Regional Council area and the Charters Towers Regional Council area in the east, Flinders Shire and Richmond Shire in the south, and Croydon Shire in the west.

Included areas

Etheridge Shire includes the localities of Abingdon Downs, Conjuboy, Einasleigh, Forsayth, Georgetown, Gilberton, Gilbert River, Lyndhurst, Mount Surprise, Northhead, Strathmore and Talaroo.

Economic region
Etheridge (S)

Land use

Etheridge Shire is predominantly rural, with small townships at Georgetown, Einasleigh, Forsayth and Mount Surprise. Land is used largely for agriculture, particularly cattle grazing and crop growing, with mining and tourism also being important industries. The Shire encompasses a total land area of about 39,300 square kilometres.


Etheridge Shire is served by Gregory Developmental Road, Gulf Developmental Road and the Savannahlander train.

Settlement history

European settlement dates from the 1860s, with land used mainly for sheep and cattle grazing. Population was minimal until the 1870s when gold mining commenced, with the townships of Georgetown and Forsayth established then. Considerable growth took place during the late 1800s due to gold mining. The township of Einasleigh was established in 1900, largely due to copper mining, with growth in this township through to the 1920s when mining waned. The township of Mount Surprise was established in 1910, as a railway line was constructed between Forsayth and the Chillagoe smelters. As mining declined during the early 1900s, grazing became the dominant industry, although there was renewed mining activity in and around Forsayth from the 1980s. The population of the Shire was relatively stable from the 1940s to the 1960s, at less than 900 people, and then increased to about 1,000 people in 1971. The population was relatively stable during the 1970s and 1980s, before rising to about 1,400 in 1991. The population then fluctuated slightly, rising to about 1,500 in 2011, then declining to about 1,200 people in 2016.

Indigenous background

The original inhabitants of Etheridge Shire were the Ewamian and the Tagalaka Aboriginal people.