Julia Creek is a town in northern Queensland, located on the Overlander’s Way, the main road between Mount Isa and Townsville. It is 664 kilometres (413 mi) west of Townsville, and is located 123 m above sea level. At the 2001 census, Julia Creek had a population of 506.
The town was named after the niece of Donald McIntyre, the first white settler in the area. McIntyre originally built a property about 70 km north of the present site of the town in 1862, only a year after the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition passed through the area. The small town that built up around the property began to grow around 1908 when the first railway was built in the region, connecting the town to the cities on the coast.
A one-room school was established in the school in 1911 with nine students, which was expanded in 1932 and again in 1934. A separate high school was constructed in 1963. A sixteen-bed hospital was also established in 1972. The town was only electrified in 1952.
The town’s main industries are farming and mining, which is mainly centered around the BHP Billiton mine at nearby Cannington. The town is a major centre for cattle sales and stock trucking, with a large saleyard and associated facilities.
The creek upon which the town is located was originally named Scorpion but, in 1870, it was changed to Julia Creek in honour of Donald Macintyre’s niece. Julia Creek’s moment of importance came with the arrival of the railway in 1908 which meant that the town became the railhead for north western Queensland.
The main industries in the area around Julia Creek are beef and wool production. It is, like so many of the towns in the Gulf, a service centre.