St George, a Queensland River Town is the capital of the Balonne Shire. Beardmore Dam, on the Balonne River, which runs through town, provides access to freshwater fishing for Yellowbelly and Murray Cod.
The town is a service center for the local wheat, sheep and cotton farmers. In more recent years farming has been extended to include beef, fruit, table grapes and vegetables.
Sir Thomas Mitchell wrote about his arrival on the banks of the river in 1846: “At an early hour we soon came upon the river where it formed a noble reach of water. The breadth was uniform, and a vast body of water was a most cheery sight. The banks were 120 yards apart; the course, in general, was very straight, contributing much to the perfection of the scenery upon it. At one turn, denuded rocks appeared in its bed, consisting of ironstone in a whitish cement of matrix, which might have been decomposed felspar. I at length arrived at a natural bridge of the same sort of rock, affording easy and permanent access to the opposite bank, and at once selected the spot for a depot camp, which we established in a fine position, commanding long vistas up and down the river. It was, in fact, a tete-du-pont overlooking the rocky passage which connected with the grass on both sides.”
St George, A Queensland River Town With An Interesting History.
In 2004 the SMH wrote “St George officially became a town in 1862. A postal service was established in 1864 although an actual post office building was not built until 1872 (still standing). The first school was built in 1873 and a Catholic church in 1874, although services were initially irregular as the priest had to visit from his parish base in Roma. An Anglican church was built in 1889.
St George was incorporated as a municipality in 1902, with a population of around 900. A bore, drilled to a depth of 2709 feet, was completed in 1904. The initial flow was 570,000 gallons a day.
The quest for water continued to preoccupy the town with irrigation projects contemplated as early as 1922 although it was not realised until the 1950s. In 1967 the scheme was extended to include the construction of Beardmore Dam, facilitating the development of the cotton and horticultural industries. Pests retarded the development of the cotton crop until the 1970s but the shire has since become one of the country’s major cotton producers. The Irrigation Project, which starts 8 km south of town, adjacent the Carnarvon Highway, now covers over 13,000 hectares. The town’s progress in recent times has been further enhanced by the construction, in 1972, of an irrigation weir (the Jack Taylor Weir) on the Balonne.
Interestingly, the town claims that the only known Aboriginal fighter pilot to serve in World War II – Warrant Officer Leonard Victor Waters – comes from the local area and his name is remembered on a pilots’ memorial opposite the St George Visitor Information Centre on the Balonne River.
The population today is around 3000.
Depending on which way you drive to the Town, it’s 200 Kms from Goondiwindi or 120 Kms from Surat.