Peanuts have been grown in Australia since the 1860s but only became a commercial
crop in the early 20th Century.
At first they were mainly grown by Chinese immigrants for domestic use,
especially during the Palmer River goldrush in North Queensland.
Although there is one report of "ground nuts" being grown by a farmer in
the Condamine region in 1861 no serious attempts were made to grow peanuts
commercially in Queensland until the early 20th century.
The first peanut farmers in the Kingaroy District included Samuel Long who
planted three acres near present-day Corndale in 1901. (Information from
B.J. Johansen planted a crop in about 1915 beside what is now the Bunya Highway.
Brothers Ben and Harry Young, of Memerambi, are widely regarded as the pioneers
of the South Burnett peanut industry. The sons of a Chinese immigrant, Ah
Young, they planted their first crop in 1919. Harry Young subsequently designed
the first peanut thresher in Queensland and Ben became a director of the
Peanut Marketing Board (PMB - now known as the Peanut Company of Australia).
PMB started operations with a shelling machine in a small barn at Crawford,
north of Kingaroy, owned by William Muir, the first secretary of the Board.
The operation later moved to the Kingaroy railway yards and then to PCA's
Initially there were two major production areas developed in Queensland -
the Burnett and the Atherton Tableland regions - however peanuts are now
also being grown successfully at Katherine in the Northern Territory and
have been grown in the Ord River area of Western Australia.
In 2000 there were about 400 growers across Australia producing about 55,000
tonnes of peanuts. More than 95 per cent of Australia's peanut crop is still
grown in Queensland.