Oonoonba, Idalia and Cluden are adjoining outer suburbs of Townsville, 6 km south of the city centre. They are on the south side of the Ross River, which is crossed by the railway line and Rooneys Bridge from Railway Estate, the site of Townsville's rail workshops.
Oonoonba was the name of the local railway station, c1880, and it is thought that the name derived from an Aboriginal word signifying swampy ground. Idalia was the name of an estate and Cluden the name of a property dating from the 1860s.
Oonoonba was the site of the Ross River meatworks (1892), west of Abbot Street and the railway line. (The location became Idalia and, since 1998, the Fairfield Waters housing estate.) The meatworks were the site of bitter industrial disputes in 1918-19. Meatworkers lived on the east side of Abbot Street, near a Catholic church in Ireland Street and the Oonoonba State primary school (1920) in Shannon Street.
North of the meatworks, a stock experiment station was established in 1914, bounded on three sides by the river and the railway. Taken over in 1932 by the CSIRO, the station has evolved, dealing with livestock health and tropical and aquatic diseases. The area had a military camp during World War II. There were railway stations at the stock experiment site and further south at Oonoonba Road.
The meatworks had several owners, including Vesteys and Smorgon, and closed in 1995. Demolition left substantial rubble, asbestos and, still standing, the brick chimney. The site became the Fairfield Waters estate, with a drive-in shopping centre (2008) with a supermarket and ten shops. In 2002 the Oonoonba primary school was rebuilt on the estate, and its enrolment exceeded 400 in 2008. Within one or two kilometres of the estate there are the Murray Sporting Complex in Annandale, the William Ross State high school, Southern Cross Catholic School and Townsville Grammar, and the Townsville racecourse in Cluden.
The census populations have been 185 (1921, Oonoonba only), 1788 (1996, all 3 suburbs) and in 2006, Cluden 455, Idalia (Fairfield Waters) 1911 and Oonoonba 1174.