Home Hill, Queensland
View of Home Hill's main street, along the Bruce Highway
|Population||3,027 (2011 census)|
|LGA(s)||Shire of Burdekin|
Home Hill, Queensland is a town and locality in the Burdekin Shire, Queensland, Australia at the delta of the Burdekin River. It is a sugarcane growing area with underground water supplies to irrigate crops. In the 2011 census, Home Hill had a population of 3,027 people.
Home Hill lies approximately 98 kilometres (61 mi) south of Townsville and 1,269 kilometres (789 mi) north of the state capital Brisbane on the Bruce Highway. It is a part of the Burdekin Region which includes the neighbouring town of Ayr. Both towns are governed by the Burdekin Shire Council.
The Burdekin River forms the locality's north-western boundary. The urban area is situated centrally within the locality surrounded by crop farming. The Bruce Highway passes through the town from the south-east to the north-west crossing the river via the Burdekin Bridge to Ayr. The North Coast railway line runs immediately parallel and south of the highway with the Home Hill railway station located in the town centre; it too crosses the river on the Burdekin Bridge. To the west of the town is Gardiner's Lagooon. Despite its name, the land in the locality is very flat.
Home Hill was originally part of the Inkerman Downs Cattle Station. In August 1910, the Inkerman estate was resumed by the Queensland Government under the Closer Settlement Act. It was subdivided into farming allotments. Although the town of Ayr was very close by, there was no bridge across the Burdekin River and hence it was necessary to establish a separate town to support the new farming community. The first blocks of town land were offered for sale in December 1912 under the name of Home Hill.
The origin of the name Home Hill is much disputed. The Queensland Government claims it was named after Home Hill, a hilltop defended by the British Army in the Battle of Inkerman in the Crimean War. However it has also been claimed that it was named after Colonel Home who lived in the district and had fought in the Crimea. Another claim is that the name was originally Holme Hill which was corrupted into Home Hill, possibly by a signwriter painting the name at the railway station. A newspaper report in September 1912 calls the proposed town Holme Hill but also makes the connection with the Battle of Inkerman. There are also numerous early references to the town as Holm Hill. Certainly the Hill part of the name does not relate to the local geography which is quite flat with the nearest hill is about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) away.
Home Hill Post Office opened by 1913 (a receiving office had been open from 1912). In the 1990s there were rumours that the post office would be closed. However, eventually the decision was made to privatise it in 1997.
A tent school was opened in the district on 23 March 1913 but was replaced by the Inkerman State School on 25 October 1913 which was renamed Home Hill State School on 19 January 1914. Another Inkerman State School was opened in 1915 and was closed on 31 December 1974.
A low-level railway bridge was built across the river in 1913 enabling a railway link between Ayr and Bowen via Home Hill. A low-level road bridge was built in 1923. However, the frequent flooding of the Burdekin River made these bridges frequently unusable and often damaged. Due to the lack of rock in the sandy soil to use as foundations, for many years it was not believed possible to build a high-level bridge across the Burdekin River. However, by copying construction techniques used in India for sand-footing bridges, work began on the Burdekin Bridge in April 1947 but it was not opened until 15 June 1957. At 1097 metres (3,600 ft) in length, the Burdekin Bridge is one of the longest multi-span bridges in Australia and the only one in Australia without a firm footing.
The farming allocations were taken up to grow sugar cane and the town developed quite quickly after the establishment of the Inkerman sugar mill in 1914.
In 1922, a power station was built enabling electricity to be supplied for the first time in Home Hill.
In 1923, the first courthouse in Home Hill opened, operating from a timber building that had formerly been used as Jensen's Boot Palace. The building was relocated to the present courthouse site, where it was replaced by the extant brick structure in 1937. The court house closed in 1991 after which it was occupied by a tourist information centre and then local radio station Sweet FM.
Home Hill's own newspaper the ''Home Hill Observer'' commenced in 1923 under proprietor and editor Thomas (Tom) Jackson, relocating offices a number of times over the years. In June 2014, the newspaper ceased publication; the then editor was David Jackson, grandson of Tom.
The Home Hill Agricultural, Horticultural and Industrial Society held its first show on 20 November 1926. In 1935 the society established its own grounds and erected pavilions.The shows were held annually (apart from 1942 to 1944 due to World War II) until 2001 when the shows were no longer economically viable.
Home Hill State High School opened on 28 January 1964.
Some farmers began to experiment with rice in the 1960s with a local rice mill opening in 1968. However, the rice industry collapsed in Queensland in 1994 when the Queensland Rice Marketing Board experienced financial difficulties bringing this crop to an end in the Home Hill area. However, other crops have been introduced to the area and found their niche in the economy; they include mangoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, chillies, sorghum, maize, cotton and cassava.
Town water via a water tower was supplied in Home Hill from 27 March 1968. Prior to this many used windmills and electric pumps to extract water from beneath the ground. Sewerage was installed from 1976 to 1979 with most household using septic tanks before then.
In the mid 1980s, the economics of sugarcane farming worsened with rising costs and falling prices. Mechanisation was needed to reduce labour costs but the cost of purchasing the equipment was high. Small farms became increasingly less viable leading to the slogan "Get big or get out" which saw many leave the industry allowing those who remained to create larger more viable farms.
When the railway station closed in 2003, its buildings found a new role as a tourist information office and community bank.
In August 2016, two British backpackers were killed in a stabbing attack at the Home Hill Backpackers hostel, leaving others injured, by a French national shouted "Allahu Akbar" during the killings and during his arrest and who had allegedly used cannabis on the night of the attack. 
Home Hill has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:
The main attractions in Home Hill are the Burdekin bridge, Inkerman Sugar Mill and Ashworth's Rock Shop. In the past few years it has become increasingly popular for backpackers, who flock to the area to earn money planting and harvesting crops.
The Home Hill Harvest Festival is an annual week-long program of events held in November, culminating in a street parade and Mardi Gras.
The Burdekin Race Club holds regular race days at Home Hill.
- Anne Geddes, photographer
- Gordon Hookey, artist
- Rosemary Menkens, politician
- Craig Wallace, politician
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Home Hill". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "Home Hill (entry 16048)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
- "Home Hill (entry 42288)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "Queensland Globe". State of Queensland. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
- "'6. Closer settlement in Queensland' in Struggle Country: The Rural Ideal in Twentieth Century Australia by Graeme Davison and Marc Brodie | EPress". books.publishing.monash.edu. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "Northern Estate REPURCHASE OF INKERMAN. CROWN TO PAY £130,266. Brisbane, August 25.". Queensland Times. 26 August 1910. p. 8. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "Home Hill". Queensland Places. Centre for the Government of Queensland, University of Queensland. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
- "Advertising". Bowen Independent. 3 December 1912. p. 3. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- Scott, Laura A; Lower Burdekin Historical Society (2011), John Drysdale's dream : Home Hill : the first fifty years, Lower Burdekin Historical Society Inc, ISBN 978-0-9871987-0-9
- "NOMENCLATURE OF QUEENSLAND.—151". The Courier-Mail. 24 March 1936. p. 12. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "LOWER BURDEKIN NOTES AYR, Sept 24.". Townsville Daily Bulletin. 27 September 1912. p. 3. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "And More Again... | The Little House of Concrete Non-Fiction". littlehouseofconcrete.net. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "Townsville Land Court.". Townsville Daily Bulletin. 8 January 1913. p. 6. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
- Scott, Laura A; Lower Burdekin Historical Society (2014), Mastering the dream : Home Hill : jubilee to centenary, Home Hill, Q The Lower Burdekin Historical Society Inc, ISBN 978-0-9871987-1-6
- "Opening and closing dates of Queensland Schools". Queensland Government. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
- "Agency ID5316, Home Hill". Queensland State Archives. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "Agency ID969, Inkerman State School". Queensland State Archives. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- Wensley, Penelope (5 October 2010). "Engineering Heritage National Landmark Award to the Burdekin River Bridge". Government House, Queensland. Archived from the original on 27 February 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "Burial Register - Burdekin Shire Council". Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- "Heritage Town Walk: Home Hill". Burdekin Shire Council. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- "Goodbye to the Home Hill Observer". ABC North Queensland. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- "Cyclone Connie – Harden Up - Protecting Queensland". hardenup.org. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- "Home Hill Harvest Festival - Oct and Nov - Burdekin Shire Council". Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Home Hill (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
- "Home Hill hostel stabbing: 'Hero' British backpacker dies in hospital". 9 News Australia. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
Police allege Mr Ayad yelled "Allahu Akbar" - an Islamic phrase meaning "God is great" - during the attack and again during his arrest.
- Robertson, Joshua; Grierson, Jamie (24 August 2016). "Queensland stabbing: British woman killed by attacker who allegedly shouted 'Allahu Akbar'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
- "Home Hill Powerhouse (entry 601718)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
- "Burdekin RC". www.burdekinraceclub.com.au. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Home Hill State Primary School (1988), 75 years 1913-1988 : Home Hill State Primary School, Home Hill State Primary School. 75th Anniversary Committee, ISBN 978-0-7316-5233-4
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