The area was not officially settled until 1842, as before then any settlement within fifty miles of the Moreton Bay penal establishment was unlawful. The name came from that of an early local pastoral station, which was derived from the Aboriginal word cabultja, meaning carpet snake. Transformation to a more defined locality occurred after the discovery of gold at Gympie in 1867, some 100 km. northwards. Cobb and Co. coaches to Gympie and Maryborough used Caboolture as a stopping-off-point. The predominantly farming community was described in The Australian Handbook, 1875, as -
In 1879 Caboolture was made into a municipal area, and in 1888 it was connected to Brisbane by railway. (The municipality's boundaries included the areas of Redcliffe and Pine Rivers, which have since been severed.) Caboolture's proximity to provincial and metropolitan markets encouraged food production, especially dairying. The Handbook's description of Caboolture in 1904 was -
In 1947 the shire's population was 3,074 and the town's 1,400. By the 1970s Caboolture's rural spaces were being taken by residential expansion from metropolitan Brisbane. The towns of Burpengary and Morayfield, situated on the Bruce Highway like Caboolture, and part of the shire underwent residential settlement. In 1971 the shire's population was 12,207, in 1986 it was 44,783 and five years later it had increased by 53% to 68,447. The estimated population in 1994 was 90, 772.
Caboolture is positioned almost centrally in its shire of 1,232 sq. km. Westwards the shire includes Woodford. Eastwards there are Toorbul, Donnybrook and Beachmere, and a short distance across the Pumicestone Passage is Bribie Island. The southern half of the island is under Caboolture shire's jurisdiction. Deception Bay is at the south of the shire.
In 1993 Caboolture's shrinking rural hinterland had 8,600 dairy cattle, 7,200 meat cattle and 10,300 pigs. There were 647 business locations involved in agriculture, fishing and forestry in the shire in 1994. Construction had 394 business locations, retail 370 and property and business services 230 in 1994.
Caboolture's central business district is situated on the north side of the Caboolture River, adjacent to the railway station. Adjoining the river are a large recreation area with sports grounds and facilities and nearby are a botanic gardens and sanctuary. The Historical Society has created an historical village with over 60 buildings.
"The History of Caboolture and Districts", Caboolture Historical Society, 1988.
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