Chinchilla is a town and a locality in the Western Downs Region, Queensland, Australia.[2][3] At the 2016 census, Chinchilla had a population of 6,612.[1]

The town (approximately 300 kilometres (190 mi) west-northwest of Brisbane) was established in 1877. As the railway pushed west across the Darling Downs from Toowoomba and Dalby, a temporary construction camp was established on the banks of Charley's Creek which developed into a town.[4]

Agriculture is the mainstay of the community, with beef and pork production, wool growing, and horticulture traditionally underwriting the local economy. However, with the recent resources boom, the Kogan Creek Power Station (and other coal and gas projects) have begun to inject welcome cash into the town and Chinchilla is experiencing mass growth and development. House prices in Chinchilla have boomed as a result of the need to house new workers.[5]

Chinchilla is known as the 'Melon Capital of Australia', and plays host to a Melon Festival every second year in February – the next is to be held in 2021.[6][7][8]


Baranggum (also known as Barrunggam, Barunggam Parrungoom, Murrumgama) is an Australian Aboriginal language spoken by the Baranggum people. The Baranggum language region includes the landscape within the local government boundaries of the Western Downs Regional Council, particularly Dalby, Tara, Jandowae and west towards Chinchilla.[9]

Mandandanji (also known as Mandandanyi, Mandandanjdji, Kogai) is an Australian Aboriginal language spoken by the Mandandanji people. The Mandandanji language region includes the landscape within the local government boundaries of the Maranoa Regional Council, particularly Roma, Yuleba and Surat, then east towards Chinchilla and south-west towards Mitchell and St George.[10]

Chinchilla War Memorial, 2008

The town name is a corruption of the Aboriginal word "tintinchilla" or "jinchilla" indicating cypress pine, possibly recorded by explorer and naturalist Ludwig Leichhardt.[2]

Chinchilla Post Office opened on 3 January 1878.[11]

The town was part of the Shire of Chinchilla local government entity from 1912, formed after splitting from the Shire of Wambo, until 2008 when it amalgamated with the Town of Dalby and the Shires of Murilla, Tara and Wambo and the southern part of Taroom to form the Western Downs Region.

The Chinchilla War Memorial was originally located near the railway overpass and was unveiled on 30 January 1919 by the Queensland Governor, Hamilton Goold-Adams. In 1977 it was substantially refurbished and relocated to the Returned and Services League of Australia club and was unveiled on 17 March 1979.[12]

St Joseph's School opened on 29 January 1923.[13]

The Warwick Public Library opened in 1999 with a major refurbishment in 2012 and a minor refurbishment in 2016.[14]

According to the 2016 Census of Population, there were 6,612 people in Chinchilla.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 5.8% of the population.
  • 80.2% of people were born in Australia. The next most common country of birth was New Zealand at 1.6%.
  • 84.5% of people spoke only English at home.
  • The most common responses for religion were Catholic 20.1%, Anglican 20.1% and No Religion 18.7%.[1]

Heritage listings

Chinchilla has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:

  • 57 Heeney Street: Chinchilla Digger Statue[15]
  • First and second Chinchilla cemeteries [16]
  • Chinchilla Court House [16]
  • Chinchilla Hospital Complex [16]
  • Chinchilla Railway Complex [16]
  • Chinchilla War Memorials (including Anzac Park and Googs Memorial) [16]
  • Speculation Oil Well & Camp [16]


Chinchilla has four schools (one state high school, one state primary school, and two private primary schools) that cater from prep to year 12:

  • Chinchilla State School, which opened on 22 January 1883 and celebrated its centenary in 1983.[17][18]
  • Chinchilla Christian College (170 students), which opened on 1 January 1983.[17] Chinchilla Christian College caters from Prep - Year 12.[19]
  • St Joseph's School (170 students), which opened on 29 January 1923.[17]
  • Chinchilla State High School, a government secondary (7-12) co-educational secondary which opened on 29 January 1963. As of 2014, had 524 students and 43 teachers (42 full-time equivalent)[20][17]

The Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE annex is located in the high school grounds and works closely with local business and industries.[21]

Leichhardt House is a hostel that provides accommodation for students from homes in remote areas.


Annual events

The Chinchilla Grandfather Clock Campdraft is a major event held every October, where entrants compete for the Grandfather Clock prize. Chinchilla also hosts horse races four times a year.[22]

Chinchilla Melon Festival

As Chinchilla produces 25% of Australia's melons (including watermelon, rockmelon and honeydew),[23] the first Chinchilla Melon Festival [1] was held in 1994 by local producers and businessmen, to lift the town's spirits after the severe drought experienced in the early 1990s. Estimated numbers at the first Festival were approximately 2,500 which grew to an estimate that there were 10,000 visitors on the main day of the 2011 festival.[24]

In 2009, the Melon Festival won the Queensland Regional Achievement and Community Award for Tourism Event.[25]

The Festival features interactive and unique events, such as Melon Skiing, Melon Bungee, Melon Bullseye, Melon Ironman, Melon Chariot, a pip spitting competition, and melon eating races. A special event held in 2009 saw John Allwood secure the Guinness World Record of Melon Head Smashing - cracking open as many watermelons as possible using only the head. Currently his record is 47 melons in a minute.[26]


View from the railway overpass

Chinchilla has a Cultural Centre, which includes a 700-seat auditorium, cinema and function room, outdoor patio, theatrette, plus bar and kitchen facilities. Also included in the complex are the White Gums Art Gallery and the Library.

The Cultural Centre also houses a cinema showing recently released movies.[27]

Chinchilla White Gums Art Gallery houses a new display every month.

The Western Downs Regional Council operates a public library in Chinchilla at 80-86 Heeney Street.[28]

The Chinchilla branch of the Queensland Country Women's Association has its hall at 53 Heeney Street.[29]

Tourism and recreation

Chinchilla is one of the towns located on the Warrego Highway, which is a main highway leading out west to Charleville, and a popular tourist route. The mainstays of Chinchilla's tourism industry are the Historical Museum, fishing and fossicking for petrified wood. 'Chinchilla Red' petrified wood is unique to the area, and known for its colour and quality.[30] The Chinchilla White Gum (Eucalyptus argophloia) is also unique to the area, and can be seen on some of the tourist drives which are marked around the region.

An accredited Visitor Information Center is located on the Highway.


Chinchilla has a range of sports facilities and a variety of sports clubs. Chinchilla Aquatic Centre houses an indoor 25m heated pool, an outdoor 50m pool and a gymnasium. The Chinchilla Family Sports Centre provides facilities for many sports and clubs. There are also clubs and facilities for touch football, rugby league, cricket, tennis, squash, motocross, gymnastics, indoor netball, taekwondo, football and lawn bowls. A fishing club, Pony Club, and shooting range also operate in the area. In addition, there are Polocrosse grounds, a race track, and 9 hole golf course. A Multipurpose Sports Centre Stadium is currently being developed.[31]

The Chinchilla rugby league team's John Gleeson went on to captain Queensland and play for the Australia national rugby league team in the 1960s.


Rebel FM 97.1 (formerly Sun FM) was Chinchilla's first commercial FM radio station. Rebel FM has a new rock & classic rock music format. Rebel FM's sister station, The Breeze broadcasts on 95.5 FM with an easy adult contemporary & classic hits format. Both stations are part of the Gold Coast-based Rebel Media Group which operates a radio network that reaches the Gold Coast and South Brisbane to many centres throughout regional and outback Queensland.

Chinchilla News and Murilla Advertiser is the local newspaper, published every Thursday.[32]

Big Melon

Big Melon

In 2018, Chinchilla won a national competition run by Wotif to create the Next Big Thing as a new tourist attraction. The 8-metre (26 ft) long melon was installed next to the town's information centre in November 2018.[33]


Chinchilla has its own hospital, with an emergency ward, maternity ward and operating theatre. It can also care for long stay patients, and has other services such as social work, child health, physiotherapy, dietician, speech therapy, occupational therapy, mental health, community health services, a women's clinic and an x-ray facility.[34]

In town, there is also a private dental practice, along with the public dental hospital. Five general practitioners operate in the area, along with an occupational therapist, optometrist, podiatrist, physiotherapists and chiropractors.[23]


Chinchilla is connected to Brisbane, Toowoomba and Roma by the Warrego Highway. Greyhound Australia operates bus services daily between Brisbane and Miles via Chinchilla.[35] Bus Queensland operates 2-3 daily bus services between Brisbane and Mount Isa via Longreach and Charleville, and three buses a week between Toowoomba and Rockhampton, along the Dawson Highway.[36] Murrays Coaches also operates a daily service to and from Brisbane. The Westlander train also comes through Chinchilla twice a week, on its way between Brisbane and Charleville. As it is a small town, there is no public transport (besides a taxi), although many coal and gas companies run contracted buses out to their sites.

Notable locals


  1. ^ a b c Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Chinchilla (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 29 January 2018. Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ a b "Chinchilla - town in Western Downs Region (entry 7133)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Chinchilla - locality in Western Downs Region (entry 47680)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  4. ^ "Chinchilla". Queensland places. Centre for the Government of Queensland, University of Queensland. 2015. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  5. ^ John McCarthy (5 February 2010). "Gloom mining towns are boom towns thanks to housing frenzy". The Courier-Mail. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
  6. ^ "Chinchilla Melon Festival display by the Chinchilla Historical Museum: Festival History". Queensland Museum. Archived from the original on 18 April 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  7. ^ "Home". Archived from the original on 6 April 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  8. ^ "Chinchilla Melon Festival digital story". 2009. hdl:10462/deriv/194340. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ "Baranggum". State Library of Queensland. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Mandandanji". State Library of Queensland. 15 January 2020.
  11. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
  12. ^ "Chinchilla War Memorial". Monument Australia. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  13. ^ Queensland Family History Society (2010), Queensland schools past and present (Version 1.01 ed.), Queensland Family History Society, ISBN 978-1-921171-26-0
  14. ^ "Queensland Public Libraries Statistical Bulletin 2016-2017" (PDF). Public Libraries Connect. November 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 January 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Soldier Statue, Chinchilla (entry 601269)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  16. ^ a b c d e f "SC6.5 Planning scheme policy 4 - Local heritage places" (PDF). Western Downs Regional Council. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  17. ^ a b c d "Opening and closing dates of Queensland Schools". Queensland Government. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  18. ^ Thomson, P; Chinchilla State School (1983), On a dry sandy ridge : a history of Chinchilla State School and district schools, s.n, retrieved 3 February 2018
  19. ^ "School Profile". My School. 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2018.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "2014 School Annual Report" (PDF). Chinchilla State High School. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  21. ^ "Chinchilla". Tafe Queensland South West. Archived from the original on 3 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  22. ^ "Chinchilla Race Club - Queensland history of racing". Queensland history of racing. Queensland Racing Limited. 2010. Archived from the original on 14 March 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  23. ^ a b Surat Basin Corporation. "About Chinchilla". Archived from the original on 26 May 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
  24. ^ Queensland Museum. "Chinchilla Melon Festival display". Collecting Queensland Festivals. Archived from the original on 7 May 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
  25. ^ Awards Australia. "Regional Achievement & Community Awards". Archived from the original on 15 February 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
  26. ^ "Man smashes way to melon record with head". ABC News. 21 February 2009. Archived from the original on 28 February 2010. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  27. ^ "Chinchilla Cultural Centre". Western Downs Regional Council. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  28. ^ "Chinchilla Library". Public Libraries Connect. 6 September 2016. Archived from the original on 22 January 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  29. ^ "Branch locations". Queensland Country Women's Association. Archived from the original on 26 December 2018. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  30. ^ Queensland Government Department of Mines and Energy. "Chinchilla Petrified Wood Localities" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 October 2009. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  31. ^ Chinchilla Shire Council (May 2007). "Sport and Recreation Plan" (PDF). p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 October 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2010.
  32. ^ "About us - Chinchilla News". Chinchilla News. APN News & Media. 2017. Archived from the original on 21 February 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  33. ^ Kennedy, Hayley (14 November 2018). "Chinchilla wins 'Next Big Thing' competition". Queensland Country Life. Archived from the original on 16 November 2018. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  34. ^ Queensland Government. "Queensland Health". Archived from the original on 16 October 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
  35. ^ Australia, Greyhound. "Network-Maps". Archived from the original on 27 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  36. ^ "Services". Bus Queensland. Archived from the original on 27 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  37. ^ Parliament of Australia. "David Littleproud". Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  38. ^ IMDB Database. "George Miller (II)". Archived from the original on 7 February 2006. Retrieved 6 February 2006.
  39. ^ "Pete Murray Biography". Archived from the original on 21 August 2006. Retrieved 6 February 2006.

External links