Head aggressively resisted a barrage of spin from the Bulls, bringing up his first century of the season of off of just 130 deliveries.
The South Australian captain showed his intent from the outset, building the run-rate following a steady first session, finding the boundary on 19 occasions on his way to 132.
No. 4 Jake Lehmann was the perfect support for Head, facing 91 deliveries for his 43 before he was bowled by Marnus Labuschagne the ball after his captain brought up the milestone.
Head finally succumbed to the spin of Mitchell Swepson LBW, while the leg-spinner ended the day with five wickets.
The Redbacks had ended the second session at 3-189 after winning the toss and electing to bat in the first Shield match in Cairns.
They went to lunch at 1-80 but soon lost John Dalton (53) to part-time spinner Chris Hemphrey who followed Callum Ferguson (45) back to the pavilion as the Bulls made a double breakthrough.
The Redbacks continue tomorrow 8/328, with Alex Carey (39*) having navigated the final session cooly.