Baralaba is a town basically between Gladstone and Emerald and is just off the Leichardt Highway.
The town’s name is derived from from the Aboriginal word meaning “High Mountain” and usually has a population of anywhere from 250 to 300 people.
The town had always been a coal mining town until the close of the both the mines, then the main local industry turned to beef and food farming.
Back in 1901, Baralaba’s community started when the Dawson River Anthracite Prospecting Company started prospecting for coal in the area.
Thereafter in 1916 and in 1921, two coal mines were opened with a railway line also developed to Rannes in 1917 which was the main catalyst for growth in the area as the transport of coal and people was easy.
The township has had an up and down history with the opening and closing of one mine due to floods and more recently in 2011 another flood cut off the town and disrupted the mining also.
From 1901 to 1928 the town showed quick growth and churches, school, hospital and the hotel were built, until the flood hit in 1928 which caused the closure of the State Coal Mine.
When the State Coal Mine closed the township’s industry started to change to farming and the reliance on mining to be the only industry in town changed, coal mining ended in 1969 and the population of Baralaba started to decline after this.
With the farming in the area of beef, sorghum, wheat, cotton and more, the township managed to survive where usually, after a mine closure, a town struggles and fades to becoming a part of Queensland’s history only.
In 1976 the town had secured reticulated water supply from a weir on the Dawson River and had two banks, two general stores, two bakers and three drapers as well as the churches, school, hospital and the hotel.
The coal mining in the area recommenced in 2005 with more expansions to the mine coming even today.
Currently besides the mining and farming industry there is a lot to do in this little town just out of Gladstone, there is the Neville Hewitt Weir on the Dawson River which is a popular area and offers boating, skiing and fishing in the Dawson and Callide Valleys, also there is the Historic Village and the
Baralaba Landcare and Community Resource Development Centre to visit which gives you a sense of the history of the area, where it has come from and where it is heading.