Queanbeyan is a regional centre in the Southern Tablelands in south-eastern New South Wales adjacent to the Australian Capital Territory. The city's mixed economy is based on light construction, high technology, manufacturing, service, retail and agriculture. It is the council seat of the Queanbeyan City Council. At the 2011 census, Queanbeyan had a population of 37,991.
Following the founding of Canberra, Australia's federal capital, just to the west, Queanbeyan has become an integral part of the capital city's economy. The word Queanbeyan is the anglicised form of 'Quinbean' - an Aboriginal word meaning "clear waters".
The town grew from a squattage held by ex-convict and inn keeper, Timothy Beard, on the banks of the Molonglo River in what is now Oaks Estate. The town centre of Queanbeyan is located on the Queanbeyan River, a tributary of the Molonglo River and about one mile east of Oaks Estate.
Queanbeyan was officially proclaimed a township in 1838 when the population was about 50. The local parish was also known by that name and later still the member for the electorate of Queanbeyan held a seat in the legislative assembly of the colony of NSW. On 28 November 1837 the Colonial Secretary announced the appointment of Captain Alured Tasker Faunce as resident police magistrate at Queanbeyan. His homestead, called Dodsworth, was situated on the banks of the Queanbeyan river opposite the town.
Traces of gold were discovered in 1851 and lead and silver mines also flourished briefly. Settlers were harassed by bushrangers, of which James Shaw, William Millet, and John Rueben, John Tennant, Jacky Jacky, Frank Gardiner and Ben Hall were some of the more notorious. In 1836, a Post Office was established.
The Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited (CBC, now part of the National Australia Bank) opened in Queanbeyan on 19 September 1859. The Bank of New South Wales began service in Queanbeyan in 1878. The Golden Age (now The Queanbeyan Age) was Queanbeyan's first newspaper and was founded in 1860 by John Gale. In 1880 the residence of John James Wright, the first mayor of Queanbeyan, was constructed along the edge of the Queanbeyan River. In 1982 that building became the Queanbeyan Art Centre.
The Salvation Army claimed an outpost in Queanbeyan in 1884.
Queanbeyan, an increasingly successful primary producing district, was proclaimed a Municipality in February 1885 incorporating an area of 5,700 acres (23 km²). The railway reached Queanbeyan railway station in 1887 and it became the junction for the lines going to Canberra and Bombala. The town is served by the twice-daily NSW TrainLink Xplorer service between Canberra and Sydney.
At the height of its rural prosperity Queanbeyan boasted sixteen public houses and six flourmills powered by wind, water, horse and steam. The Royal Hotel on Monaro Street opened in 1926. Canberra was "dry" from 1911 at the time of the territory's foundation until 1928 when Federal Parliament had relocated from Melbourne. In that period many of the capital's residents crossed the border to drink at one of Queanbeyan's hotels.
Queanbeyan was granted city status on 7 July 1972. On 21 July 1975 the Queen's Bridge was opened. This bridge took pressure off the existing bridge in linking Monaro Street directly to the east. From 1982 to 1989, the Canberra Raiders rugby league team played their home games in Queanbeyan, at Seiffert Oval.
Since December 2008, the ADF's HQ Joint Operations Command has been based adjacent to the Kowen district of the Australian Capital Territory, just south of the Kings Highway, about 15 km east of Queanbeyan, and 15 km south of Bungendore, New South Wales.