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

About the area

Name origin

Mareeba Shire is thought to be named from an Aboriginal word meaning "meeting of the waters".

Location and boundaries

Mareeba Shire is located in Far North Queensland, about 1,800 kilometres north of the Brisbane CBD, and 60 kilometres west of the Cairns CBD. Mareeba Shire is bounded by Cook Shire in the north, Douglas Shire, the Cairns Regional Council area and the Tablelands Regional Council area in the east, Etheridge Shire in the south, and Carpentaria Shire in the west.

Included areas

Mareeba Shire includes the localities of Almaden, Amber, Arbouin, Arriga, Barwidgi, Bellevue, Biboohra, Bolwarra, Bulleringa, Chewko, Chillagoe, Crystalbrook, Desailly, Dimbulah, Forty Mile, Fossilbrook, Gamboola, Glen Russell, Groganville, Gunnawarra (part), Highbury, Hurricane, Irvinebank, Julatten, Koah, Kuranda, Lyndside, Mareeba, Mona Mona, Mount Carbine, Mount Garnet (part), Mount Molloy, Mount Mulgrave, Mount Mulligan, Munderra, Mutchilba, Nychum, Paddys Green, Petford, Ravensworth, Red River, Rookwood, Southedge, Speewah, Springfield, Staaten, Strathmore (part), Thornborough, Watsonville and Wrotham.

Economic region
Mareeba (S)

Land use

Mareeba Shire includes significant areas of national park and state forest, rural areas and growing township and rural-residential areas. The Shire encompasses a total land area of about 54,000 square kilometres. The primary regional centre is Mareeba, with another township at Kuranda, and small villages at Chillagoe, Dimbulah, Julatten and Mount Molloy. Rural land is used mainly for sugar cane growing, tropical fruit growing and cattle grazing, with some mining, timber production and coffee growing. Tourism is also an important industry.


Mareeba Shire is served by the Kennedy Highway.

Settlement history

European settlement dates from the 1870s, with land used mainly for grazing, timber-getting, crop farming, and gold and copper mining. Several townships were established in the 1870s and 1880s. Growth took place from the late 1800s through to the early 1900s, aided by the extension of the railway line from Cairns. Kuranda became a popular tourist area from the early 1900s, with increased tourism from the 1970s. More substantial growth took place from the post-war years, aided by the tobacco growing industry in Mareeba and Dimbulah. The population of the Shire increased from about 6,000 in 1947 to about 10,000 in 1961. Expansion continued, with the population rising to nearly 12,000 in 1971, and then to about 14,000 in 1981. Growth continued from the 1990s, with the population rising to about 17,000 in 1991, to about 18,000 in 2001, and then to about 22,000 in 2016.

Indigenous background

The original inhabitants of Mareeba Shire were various Aboriginal tribes.