Miles is a rural town at the junction of the Warrego and Leichardt Highways in the western Darling Downs, 300 km north-west of Brisbane.
The Miles area was explored by Ludwig Leichhardt who, in October 1844, named a tributary of the Condamine River, Dogwood Creek. The creek's name came from the endemic Dogwood shrub, Jacksonia scoparia. Within a few years pastoralists took up much of the Miles district, and the westerly track (Warrego Highway) intersected with the creek and was a convenient camping place, with the nearby Chinamans Lagoon. The camping place was known as Dogwood Crossing.
In 1877 construction of a railway extension from Chinchilla to Roma paused when a bridge was built over Dogwood Creek, and the Crossing became a fettlers camp. When the extension was opened in 1878 by the Minister for Railways, William Miles, the settlement at the Crossing was named after him. Miles had been the owner of the Dulacca pastoral station, west of the Crossing, during 1860-75.
In 1903 Miles, with a population of about 300 people, was described in the Australian Handbook:
Within a decade of this description, Miles attained several institutional milestones: Church of England (1906), Catholic church (1908), a hospital (1913) and the first annual show (1913). The economically very important Miles Butter Factory (1911) operated until 1968.
The Miles district, particularly westwards around Dulacca, was blighted with prickly pear. An experimental station for the eradication of prickly pear was established at Dulacca in 1914, but it was not until 1928 that Cactoblastis (from another source) began to effectively destroy the pear pest.
Despite the prickly pear, farm communities between Miles and Taroom to the north lobbied for a Branch railway line, and in 1913-14 one was opened in stages as far as Wandoan (then known as Juandah).
Miles' main industries were grazing and cereal growing, with minor areas given over to dairying and citrus growing. The town had a Downs Co-operative butter factory (1913), a hospital (1913), four hotels, two sawmills, four storekeepers and several tradespeople. The Rex picture theatre was opened in the 1920s.
Reticulated electricity was switched on in 1937 and in 1942 an airstrip was built as part of Australia's wartime defence. The postwar wool boom injected prosperity into the local economy: reticulated water was laid on (1957), the town's population reached a peak of nearly 1500 in the 1960s, a new civic centre was built (1961) and a swimming pool was opened (1967).
Within six years of its formation in 1965 the Miles and District historical society opened the Miles historical village and museum. It has over 30 buildings, most of which have been removed from elsewhere. An example is the dance hall from Columboola, east of Miles. An artesian basin display centre was added in 1988.
Miles has local shops, the former Murilla Shire offices, a library, gallery and infotech centre, a racecourse, a showground, golf, swimming and bowls venues, a hospital, State primary (1880) and high (1979) schools and a livestock saleyards and grain elevators. Its census populations have been:
B.H. Ford, A history of Miles in the Murilla Shire, Queensland, Chinchilla, Chinchilla Newspaper Co, 1978
Eric Newbery, What's in a name?: some historical facts of Miles and surrounding districts, Miles, E. Newbery, 1992