The earliest selector in this region, which was originally known as Slacks Creek, was George Palk. He had come to the area in 1862 to work for the Cotton Company. Mr Palk was a member of the first Tingalpa Divisional Board of 1880, which had its headquarters at Mt Cotton. He was chairman in 1882, 1883 and 1884.
The naming of Tanah Merah seems to have been the subject of much urban myth and conjecture locally. Some have suggested that the name was given to the area by the McBride family who came from Malaya in the early 1950s and carried on the name of their Malayan property. Tanah Merah means red earth and it seems that the developers of the housing estates in the area continued the theme of names from Malaya and Indonesia.