Kilkivan is a small and pleasant township nestled into the eastern hills of the Great Dividing Range. Today it is a service centre for the surrounding beef and dairy cattle industries and there is little indication that it was once a thriving mining town.
The Kilkivan area was settled in the 1840s and the town takes its name from a property which was established around that time. European settlement of the area had been fraught with dangers. A settler named Sheridan tried to settle in the area but the local Aborigines successfully repulsed him by killing two of his shepherds and large numbers of his stock. Eventually a Scot named MacTaggart selected 1600 acres which he named Kilkivan after the family farm back in Scotland.
Although Queensland's first gold discovery was made at Kilkivan in 1852, it wasn't until a gold reef, the Rise and Shine (the town was briefly named after the reef), was discovered at nearby Mount Neurum in 1868, causing a mini gold rush to the area and the advent of the railway in the same year, that Kilkivan began to grow. But like so many of the gold towns in the area the days of Rise and Shine, which relied on the easy discoveries of alluvial gold, were numbered. In its heyday the town had a population of 2,000 miners who were serviced by grog shanties, four hotels, and several general stores. The best find on the field was a nugget weighing 75 ounces.
Within four years the alluvial gold in the area had run out. Fortunately, the Black Snake reef was discovered in 1874 and the economy of the town was sustained until 1902. Small pockets of gold are still found to this day and visitors to the area can put down 'gold panning' as one of the many reasons to stop and play a while in this delightful town. In 1872 copper was also discovered at Mount Clara on the Fat Hen Creek.
The 52km Wide Bay Highway drive west from Gympie to Kilkivan takes you via the Brooyar Forest Drive, Woolooga (see Other Places), Rossmore Road and the Mt Clara Chimneys - which are just called The Chimneys (see Other Places) by the locals. Kilkivanís Historical Museum (see Other Places) also commemorates the discovery of gold in the shire in 1852, along with displays and information about the history and farming in the area. Brochures describing short walks and drives to places of interest are available. Check out Mudlo Gap Conservation Park (see Other Places), north of Kilkivan especially if you have an interest in bird watching.
Have a cold drink at the hotel (see Links) and meet some of the locals. There is also a delightful B&B located in the main street which is also an up-market take-away.
Annually, the town hosts "The Kilkivan Great Horse Ride" (see Links), an exciting event which has been known to attract over 1000 riders to its trek along parts of the Bicentennial National Trail (see Other Places).