It is known as the "Peanut Capital of Australia" because Australia's largest peanut processing plant is located in the town and peanut silos dominate the skyline. The name Kingaroy is usually claimed to be derived from the Wakka Wakka Aboriginal word for 'Red Ant'. The local Kingaroy Rugby League football team is known as "the Red Ants" and a Red Ant features on the old Kingaroy Shire coat of arms. However a Wakka Wakka Word List provides the following explanation: "Derived from 'king', a small black ant, and 'dhu'roi', meaning hungry. The name was suggested by a local Aboriginal helper of the surveyor Mr Hector Munro who surveyed the original grazing holding of this name on account of these ants being a pest at the survey camp".
In 1878 the district where Kingaroy now stands was settled by the Markwell brothers. When the first resumptions were made from the enormous Taabinga holding, the brothers selected two adjoining areas and in 1883 these leases were converted to freehold and became known as the 'Kingaroy Paddock'. The corner of this paddock was located on what is now known as Haly Street, named after the brothers who settled at Taabinga Station about 12km south-west of present-day Kingaroy.
A small, prosperous village grew up around Taabinga in the 1890s but the arrival of the railway in 1904 led to a land explosion around Kingaroy and the development of Kingaroy as it now exists. Taabinga quickly declined into a ghost town by the end of World War I and today the original Taabinga Homestead and a few outbuildings are all that remain of it. The area opposite Kingaroy Airport is today known as "Taabinga Village" but is really only a suburb of Kingaroy. Kingaroy celebrated its Centenary in 2004.
Kingaroy has the most cosmopolitan feel of any South Burnett township but it's still a relaxed, friendly and informal country town at heart. It has the typical low-humidity climate of all South Burnett townships and is surrounded by extensive (and very picturesque) farmlands interspersed with low rolling hills. The Booie Range, home to several wineries and cellar doors, lies immediately north-east of the town and the Bunya Mountains about 55km to the south-west. The township is situated in the middle of some spectacular scenery, and is popular for bushwalking.
The Central Business District of the township is dominated by the Peanut Company of Australia's peanut silos (a local landmark). The Information, Art and Heritage Precinct is located directly opposite the peanut silos. The complex includes the Kingaroy Shire Art Gallery, Visitor Information Centre, Heritage Museum and an interpretative arena which highlights local industries. The Heritage Precinct also includes a number of historic buildings ranging from Carroll's Cottage (the first building constructed in Kingaroy) through to the Carrollee Hotel and the Shire's earliest Council Chambers (built in 1918).
Traditionally, Kingaroy has always been the centre of Australia's peanut and navy bean industries but since the early 1990s it has also developed into one of the twin hubs of the South Burnett's rapidly-expanding wine industry (the other hub is at Murgon, Redgate and Moffatdale, 55km to the north). Several wineries are located either in or very close to the town, along with the Booie Range Distillery which opened in 2001 - only the third distillery in Queensland.
Droughts and uncertainty surrounding the region's annual peanut crop led some farmers to diversify and grow grapes. Rich volcanic soil, hot dry summers and cold winters proved to be ideal conditions for wine growing. Quite a number of vineyards were established in the region, and the success of their wine enables the South Burnett region, which includes Kingaroy, to promote the area as a tourist destination. The success of this enterprise has been largely attributed to the scenery of the location, and has benefited the local economy.
Major annual events include the Wine and Food In The Park Festival (held each March); the Kingaroy Show (held each May); the Burrandowan Picnic Races (held at Burrandowan on the outskirts of the Shire, also each May); the Kingaroy Peanut Festival (held each August); the two-day Taabinga Spring Music Festival (each October); and the Christmas Carnival (each December).