RDA Darling Downs and South West Region
About the area
ABS ERP 2017
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
Balonne Shire is named after the Balonne River, which is thought to be named from an Aboriginal word meaning “water or running stream”.
Location and boundaries
Balonne Shire is located in south-west Queensland, between 400 and 600 kilometres south-west of the Brisbane CBD. Balonne Shire is bounded by the Maranoa Regional Council area in the north, the Western Downs Regional Council area and the Goondiwindi Regional Council area in the east, the New South Wales border in the south, and Paroo Shire in the west.
Balonne Shire includes the localities of Bollon, Dirranbandi, Flinton (part), Hebel, Mungindi (part), St George and Thallon.
Balonne Shire is a predominantly rural area, with several small townships. Most of the population lives in the main township of St George and the smaller townships of Bollon, Dirranbandi, Hebel, Mungindi and Thallon. The Shire encompasses a total land area of over 31,000 square kilometres. Rural land is used largely for agriculture, particularly cotton and wheat growing and sheep and cattle grazing, with horticulture (fruit and vegetable growing) also being an important industry.
Balonne Shire is served by the Balonne Highway, the Barwon Highway, the Carnarvon Highway, the Castlereagh Highway and the Moonie Highway.
European settlement dates from the 1840s, with land used mainly for sheep and cattle grazing. Growth took place during the late 1800s when several small townships were established. Expansion continued during the early 1900s, aided by the opening of the railway line in 1913. The most significant development took place in the post-war years, with the population of the Shire rising from about 3,300 in 1933 to about 4,000 in 1947, then to about 6,100 in 1961. The St George irrigation system was developed during the 1950s, then extended in 1967 to include the construction of Beardmore Dam, and extended again in 1972 to include Jack Taylor Weir. These developments in irrigation facilitated the development of cotton growing and horticultural industries. The population declined from the late 1960s, falling to about 5,400 in 1971, and then to about 4,700 in 1981. The population fluctuated slightly from the early 1990s, rising and falling slightly between each Census period as dwelling occupancy rates rose and fell, with the population declining slightly overall, falling from about 5,100 in 1991 to about 4,900 in 2011.
The original inhabitants of Balonne Shire were the Kamilaroi Aboriginal people.