The town, formerly known as Barambah, was founded as a settlement for Aborigines in the early 1900s under a policy of segregation being pursued by the Government of Queensland. Its history has been described in at least two books, Dumping Ground by Thom Blake and Is That You Ruthie? By Ruth Hegarty.
In 1900, the Salvation Army negotiated for the establishment of the Barambah Aboriginal Reserve, which was gazetted over 7,000 acres (2,800 ha) on 23 February 1901. It was initially populated with a few local Aborigines, but others from the Esk region were soon sent to the reserve. Many were forcibly removed from their homes and "settled" at Barambah which was later renamed 'Cherbourg'. Sometimes they were sent there as punishment for refusing to work on white-owned farms. People from 109 different areas were mixed together and they were not allowed to speak their own languages.
The effect of mixing these different groups of people together and forcing them to speak English has been an almost total loss of their cultural heritage. Many of the languages are considered to be extinct, surviving only in notes and recordings stored at the University of Queensland. Which is once again a case of best intentions failing miserably?
When visiting Murgon, check to see if the Cherbourg Museum is open before the short drive to the township.