Finch Hatton, a rural town 60 km west of Mackay, is toward the western end of the Pioneer River/Cattle Creek valley.
In 1903 the Pioneer Shire Council built a railway extension from just beyond Mirani to Upper Cattle Creek, prompting the Racecourse Central sugar mill (Mackay) to develop the Finch Hatton Valley for cane farming. By 1904 a complete railway was running to Finch Hatton.
The locality was known as Hatton, named after Harold and Henry Finch-Hatton, local land owners and gold miners in the hills to the south-west. Harold Finch-Hatton was also the author of a popular travel book, Advance Australia (1885), with several pages on his mining and pastoral adventures. Because of the confusion with Hatton Vale, south Queensland, the full Finch Hatton surname was adopted in 1906 for the small township and railway station.
Finch Hatton school was opened in 1909. The post office directory (1913) recorded numerous farmers at Finch Hatton, along with the Criterion and Railway Hotels, a sawmill, three stores and a cordial manufacturer. A somewhat more varied township was described in 1949, with the Cedar cinema, a motor garage, a Catholic church (1915), the Criterion hotel and the Cattle Creek Co-operative sugar mill (1906-1990).
With the closure of the mill the town found some compensation in bushwalking and tourism in the Eungella national park, which includes the Finch Hatton gorge. The town has a general store, a museum in the former railway station (the line has gradually closed from 1977), a showground, the Criterion Hotel, a caravan park and a primary school. The railway station (1904) is an intact, decorative timber building, positioned in the main street and maintained by the local council. It is near the war memorial (1921), also well cared for, and both are listed on the Queensland heritage register.
Finch Hatton census populations have been:
John Kerr, Top mill in the valley: Cattle Creek sugar mill, Finch Hatton, 1906-1990, Brisbane, Boolarong Publications with Mackay Sugar Co-operative Association Limited, 1991