European settlement in the area began in 1842, when Henry Stuart Russell claimed land around the Condamine River to establish Cecil Plains station. The site of the station homestead was to become the site of the town. Ludwig Leichhardt used the homestead as a base for two expeditions into the surrounding region in 1844 and 1847. The station originally grazed cattle but later moved to wool production.
In 1916, Cecil Plains station was acquired by the Queensland government and subdivided for closer settlement, with some parcels reserved for soldier settlers. The new settlers produced mainly wheat and dairy. The railway arrived in 1919, followed by a post office in 1921 (a receiving office had been open from 1890) and a police station in 1934. The local pub is called the Victory Hotel, as a result of a successful vote in 1938 (on the third attempt) to establish a drinking establishment in the town. From the 1960s cotton became the main crop grown in the area.