Community and History of Herberton

“The oldest town on the Atherton Tablelands”

Herberton History

Herberton History Railway, Mining

Herberton – The Village in the Hills!

The township was formally founded in 1880 making it the oldest town on the Atherton Tablelands. Herberton is situated 918 meters above sea-level on the Great Dividing Range south-west of Atherton, (just 15 minutes by road). 

During the late 1870s John Newell prospected in the Tinaroo district, north-east of Herberton. Guided by John Atherton, Newell and a companion, William Jack, found a tin lode at Herberton in 1880. The nearest watercourse, the Wild River, is a tributary of the Herbert. Treating them as the one stream Newell, named the place Herberton.

The Post Office directory in 1885 estimated Herberton’s population at about 600 and recorded an active township. There were six stores and sundry other shops such as a pharmacy and a saddler, two banks, three drapers, and twelve hotels. These were reported in the Wild River Times and the Herberton Advertiser.

The Railway Comes To Town

During the 1882 wet season, tin miners on the Wild River were unable to obtain supplies and were facing famine. The boggy road leading to Port Douglas was proving impassable, meaning no tin went to port. This also meant no supplies came back to Herberton. The result was miners were raising angry voices and began agitating for a railway to the coast.

In 1910 the railway was extended from Atherton to Herberton, connecting the town via rail to Cairns on the coast. A grand opening was held at the Herberton Station on 20th October 1910. The Atherton Herberton Historic Railway displays the recently restored, and commissioned, 1906 Peckett Steam Locomotive. The Atherton Herberton Historic Railway Inc has an active railway museum in Herberton. They operate train rides from Herberton Railway station to the Historic Village in Herberton

Mining in the Region

The first European exploration of this area was undertaken in 1875 by James Venture Mulligan. Mulligan was prospecting for gold, but instead found tin. The town of Herberton was established on 19 April 1880 by John Newell to exploit the tin find. Mining began on 9 May and by  September of that year, Herberton had a population of 300 men and 27 women.

Mining and smelting continued until 1984, during a time when the town’s population varied between 900 and 1100. The loss of the mining industry was accompanied by a loss of population in the town. This position was rectified in the 1990s. Visit the Herberton Mining Museum and view the extensive displays, information, and details of the region’s significant global mining history.

Preserving Herbertons History

In 1973 a privately run historical village housing numerous old buildings and relics collected by Harry and Ellen Skennar was established. Now known as the Historic Village Herberton, the village was reopened in 2008 under new owners Connie and Craig Kimberley. With over 60 original buildings,and covering over 16 acres. This award winning tourist attraction is enjoyed by countless locals, interstate and international tourists every year. Click here for more

Herberton Community

Today the historical town of Herberton has a general store, cafés, shops and an extensive visitors’ centre at the mining museum. There is a hospital and the former Herberton Shire chambers plus other key attractions. Mt St Bernard College caters for both day pupils and boarders from across the state. Herberton has very active community groups in the Arts with the Herberton Community Inter-Action Association (HCIA), Herberton Garden Group, community support groups like Rotary, Red Cross, the CWA, Herberton Men’s Shed, and hosts other regular and annual events like the Jacaranda Festival and the Herberton Flower Show.
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on the local busineses in Herberton

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