The History of the Woothakata - Mareeba Shire

The Shire of Mareeba was a Local Government Area which covered an area of 53,610.8 square kilometres (20,699.2 sq mi), and existed as a local government entity from 1879 until 2008, when it amalgamated with several councils in the Atherton Tableland area to become the Tablelands Region.

Woothakata - Mareeba Shire History
When local government was enacted in 1879 for rural Queensland, Thornborough was chosen as the civic centre for the Woothakata division. Woothakata administered an area of over 27,000 sq miles, including the tin-mining area at Stannary Hills and Irvinebank, which came to prominence in the 1880s. Situated near the Walsh River, 60 km south of Thornborough, this area and its hinterland (4110 sq miles) were severed from Woothakata in 1889 and named Walsh division.[1]
Woothakata Divisional Board, based in the mining town of Thornborough on the Hodgkinson goldfield, was created on 11 November 1879 as one of 74 divisions around Queensland under the Divisional Boards Act 1879. Woothakata is a Wakaman and Kuku Djungan Aboriginal word which describes the way (the journey) they traveled to Ngarrabullgan/Mount Mulligan, an important meeting place. The name Woothakata lives on as the name of a property at Chillagoe. [2]
On 18 May 1889, Walsh Division centred on Irvinebank was created, and on 20 December 1890, the Barron Division was created closer to Cairns. With the passage of the Local Authorities Act 1902, all three Divisions became shire councils on 31 March 1903. A fourth Shire, based at Chillagoe, was established on 16 December 1908. In 1919, Woothakata's seat of administration moved to Mareeba. [2]
Thornborough had declined steadily in importance, having a population of 58 in 1921 and 29 in 1933. The same year, on 20 December, the Shire of Barron was abolished, with its area being split between the Shire (later City) of Cairns and Shire of Woothakata. On 25 June 1932, the Shires of Walsh and Chillagoe merged into the Shire of Woothakata,[2] which was renamed the Shire of Mareeba on 20 December 1947. [2]
With its Shire Offices then relocated to Mareeba it continued until 2008 when it was amalgamated with three other shires to form The Tablelands Regional Council.
This new region is managed by the Tablelands Regional Council whose offices are located in Atherton.

News item from The Townsville Daily Bulletin, Friday, 29 August, 1947
The Executive Council has approved that notice of Intention be given to alter the name of the Woothakata Shire to Mareeba Shire. The acting Minister for Local Government in Brisbane, said on Thursday under the law, the Governor-in-Council might alter the name of any area at the request of a local authority, but before this action is taken, three months' notice or intention must be given. During this period of three months any person might object to the proposed alteration of a name and at the expiry of the statutory period all objections received must be considered, and a decision made by the Governor in-Council.

The Council had pointed out that prior to the amalgamation of the Barron. Walsh and Chillagoe Shires with Woothakata Shire in 1932, the Woothakata Shire area comprised only part of the present area, and that Mareeba and district were not included in the original Woothakata area The Council also pointed out that Mareeba was the largest town in the shire and would undoubtedly remain so. Whilst the name Woothakata Shire left persons distant from the area doubtful of the location of the area  and its headquarters the name Mareeba Shire would, in the opinion of the Council, remove that doubt.  

News item from The Cairns Post, Wednesday, 28 January, 1948

Jan. 29 -At the January meeting of Mareeba Shire Council, Cr. J. M. Brown presided over Cm. C. L. Davies, W. Gardner, J. J. Meehan, W. McColm, J. J. Nicholls, J. B. Bartley and the clerk .(Mr, R. Arnold).
The council authorised excess of bud- get provisions as follows, as emergent expenditure: General Fund: Works and roads Division 4, £400; shire office expenses, £40; interest on old overdraft, £40; Mines Department grant for Mt Mulligan dam, £250. Water Fund: Main extensions, £300; reticulation re- pairs, £150; insurance, £25; interest on old overdraft £15.
The Main Roads Commission advised that plans are in hand for further construction work on the Mareeba-DimbuIah road.
The Department of Local Government advised that an Order-in-Council has been issued dispensing with loan procedure in connection with a loan of £960 for Mt Mulligan water supply.
A letter from the Cairns Regional Electricity Board was received, advising regarding street lights for Mt Mulligan.
It was decided to ask the Mines Department if it will provide street lights at Mt Mulligan, and to ask for information regarding the council's responsibility in the matter of erecting poles and wiring, etc
The Mines Department advised that ex gratia payments in lieu of rates on mining country on which an option to prospect has been given to Broken Hill Pty. Ltd cannot be approved.
The Ore Producers' and Prospectors' Association wrote regarding a proposal for the construction of swimming baths at Mareeba.
It was decided that the council keep in mind the association's suggestions regarding possible sites for swimming baths.
A further letter was received from the Ore Producers' Association, forwarding a petition signed by 87 persons, asking that the council move for the construction of a bridge over Granite Creek at Mareeba. It was resolved that the petition be referred to the Main Roads Commission and Mr. H. H. Collins, M.L.A., with the council's recommendation that the re-quest be given favourable consideration.
A letter was received from the NQ. Local Authorities' Association advising of their advice of the intention of the Main Roads Commission to discuss with the council the gazettal of the Mareeba Molloy road as a main road.
The association is to be informed that the council has had no official advice of the proposed discussion.
The Treasury advised of the proposed construction of a forestry road in the Davies' Creek area at a cost of £3090.
The Department of Local Government advised that an Order-ln-Council was issued on December 20, 1947. altering the name of the shire from "Woothakata" to "Mareeba "
The Department of Mines advised It cannot see its way clear to establish a School of Mines in the Far North.
Cr. Gardner moved that a copy of the letter be sent to the Ore Producers' and Prospectors' Association, and the Mines Department be informed that the council does not see eye to eye with the Department and strongly urges that further consideration be given to the re-opening of the school at Charters Towers, or alternatively that a school be opened in the Cairns area, where mining is on the increase. The motion was seconded by Cr McColm and carried.

Text taken from:
1. Queensland Places - -
2. Wikipedia - -
3. Newpaper Articles: State Library of Qld - Digital Newspapers