History of Eton Irrigation

When drought ravaged the sugar industry in the Mackay region in the 1960s, grower organisations lobbied the Queensland Government to invest in water storage infrastructure to avoid a repeat of the hardship it caused. The government agreed and the scheme was established in 1975


The Eton Irrigation Scheme is located near the town of Eton, 35 km southwest of Mackay in north Queensland.


Until 1975, sugar cane in the area was grown under dry land cultivation or irrigated from low yielding groundwater bores. The need for a stable and secure water supply became evident after drought conditions in the 1960s caused serious crop losses.

In 1975, the Queensland Government approved the establishment of the Eton Irrigation Area. The development of the Eton Irrigation Scheme occurred progressively over the following decade, after construction of the Kinchant Dam (Stage 1).

The scheme was designed to supplement rainfall by harvesting water from the Pioneer River and storing it for later distribution to the 300 sugar cane farms within its area.

Today, cane is no longer the sole crop grown in the area as some farms have moved into growing other crops. In addition, the scheme is now also used to transport water for the Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay Coal Loading Facilities.


Currently, the Eton Water Supply Scheme has over 300 customers