Moorooka, mainly a post World War II suburb, is seven km south of central Brisbane. It is thought that the name was derived from an Aboriginal word describing a nose or referring to the iron bark trees once common in the area. The name appears to have been first used officially for the name of the railway station when it was opened in 1887. Before then, the district was known as Rocky Water Holes and Rocklea East.
Before the opening of the railway line (1885) Moorooka was part of the Yeerongpilly local government division and was entirely rural. There had been cotton and sugar cane grown in the 1860s, and general farming in later years. The nearest place of settlement was Rocky Water Holes (Rocklea) on the Ipswich Road.
An Oddfellows Hall was built in 1887 in Hamilton Road, near the station, serving as a public hall and place of worship until separate churches were built. A post office was opened in 1891.
A sawmill was near the railway line and a tannery further north near the east bank of Moolabin Creek, a tributary of Rocky Water Holes Creek. Moorooka was also a convenient out-of-town place for picnic gatherings. The north-east part of Moorooka, known as Clifton Hill, was a soldier settlement area in the 1920s.
Anglican and Catholic churches were opened in Hamilton Road (c1912, 1919). As Moorooka became dotted with houses, local shops were built away from the station in Beaudesert Road (1925) and Mayfield Road. At the prompting of the progress association the Moorooka primary school was opened in 1929 on a site on Beaudesert Road, in the middle of the emerging suburb. St Brendan's Catholic primary, a short way west, was opened in the same year. A Methodist church (1931) was similarly located in Gainsborough Street.
The construction of the uniform gauge railway line in 1930 involved a transshipping point immediately next to the Moorooka station, and during the war there was industrial and munitions activity both there and at Rocklea. Evans Deakins engineering works were a short way southwards. An American servicemen's camp was north-east of the school, in Mayfield Road, which by 1937 had a tram service along Beaudesert Road.
Returned servicemen's housing and numerous estates quickly filled Moorooka and a shantytown (1946) gained some notoriety. Salisbury High School down Beaudesert Road was opened in 1954. Like the school, retailing moved to the middle of the suburb, with the Moorvale shopping centre in Beaudesert Road, serviced by Brisbane buses and private motor cars. Lutheran and Presbyterian churches (1949, 1955) completed the postwar pattern of worship. At the extreme east the estate of a Moorooka pioneer, James Toohey's 'paddock' was subdivided from 1953 onwards, culminating with a local shopping centre and the Toohey Forest Reserve (mostly in Salisbury and Nathan). An elevated site, it has indigenous vegetation and water supply reservoirs.
Beaudesert Road has retained Moorooka's shopping centre, but the motor car age is catered for in the motor trade mile along Ipswich Road. The former Yeronga fire station (1934), a heritage-listed timber building, is also in Ipswich Road.
In January 2011 the Clapham marshalling yard and an area north of the railway station were flooded because of their proximity to Moolabin Creek and Brisbane golf course (Yeerongpilly).
Moorooka's census populations have been:
including Rocklea and Salisbury
R. Clarke, Moorooka State School jubilee, 1929-1979: a history of the district and the school, Moorooka, Moorooka State School Jubilee Committee, 1979