The McKinlay district was first discovered by Scottish born explorer, John McKinlay in 1861 during his travel from Adelaide to the Gulf of Carpentaria. McKinlay was established in 1888 as a staging post for the Cobb and Co. coaches and a gathering point for the graziers from surrounding properties. The McKinlay Shire Council offices were originally located in McKinlay until 1930, when they were moved to Julia Creek.
McKinlay is more recently known as the home of the Walkabout Creek Hotel. This historic pub was once the Shire Hall and has recently gained notoriety as the pub in the movie "Crocodile Dundee". The hotel was originally named the Federal Hotel and was built in 1900 and licensed in 1901. Further to the north of McKinlay is Maronan Station where you can look for gemstones & particularly garnets. McKinlay is also home to Queensland’s smallest library.
85km west of McKinlay, lies BHP Cannington mine, established in 1997. Cannington is the worlds largest silver and lead mine. Canninton was the offical supplier of silver to the Sydney Olympics and Para-Olympics games and also the 2008 Beijing Olympics.