The original inhabitants of this area spoke a language named Kabi after the word they used for “no”. They became known as the Kabi Kabi tribe (pronounced Gubbi Gubbi).
The town of Imbil was formerly part of Imbil Station, a cattle run originally squatted in 1850. Imbil began as a township in 1914 after land subdivision allowed closer settlement of the upper Mary Valley (Imbil and the Yabba Valley, Kenilworth, Brooloo, Kandanga, Amamoor) during the 1914-1920 period. The opening of the Mary Valley Branch Railway extension from Kandanga to Brooloo in 1915 improved access to the area.
The dairying and the timber industry have always provided the base employment. The forestry was regarded a critical national industry in the immediate post-war years, and in Imbil there was a boost in sawmill activity and employment and the construction of new mills.
Imbil State Forest became a place of employment for European refugees who were accepted into Australia. In 1948, the Queensland Government established a refugee camp for these “New Australians” near Imbil, at Derrier Creek. The refugee men became labourers in the forestry planting hoop pine plantations.
The construction of Borumba Dam (1960-64) further increased the population of the town which is now the largest town in the lower Mary Valley with a population of 600 people.
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