Mariala National Park – A Silent Drought, Bones of Despair, Spines of Hope in Outback Queensland

After two weeks stuck in charleville
while I replaced my turbocharger and tracked down an oil leak caused by a
blocked crankcase breather it was great to be back on the open road I consider
myself lucky the problems occurred on the way to Charleville at least there I
had a post office to receive the new parts shipped in from Western Australia
and the UK initially I planned to head south from Charleville into more remoter
country but now to ensure my repairs have fixed the problem I’ve decided to
head west along Adavale Rd to visit a couple national parks as a test run
before I resumed my original plan I’m in Mariala National Park which is a
small park about 130 kilometres west of Charleville in central Queensland I was
on my way out to visit Hell Hole Gorge National Park and this is on the way
so decided to stop three nights here to explore I’m heading into the
deepest camp site which is at rock pools camping area another 21 kilometres to go
down this easement which mostly follows the fence line so let’s head on in and
see what the parks like the park was once part of the Ambathala
pastoral holding used for grazing sheep and cattle from 1875. In the early 1900s
horses were also bred here for Cobb & Co. stagecoaches. Mariala protects part of Queensland’s
Mulga community a type of hardy Acacia. It became a protected scientific reserve
in the early 1980s later converting to national park status in 1992 some of the
infrastructure from its pastoral days still remains in ruins. the Southern Cross windmill stands as a
testament to the early pastoralists ingenuity once pumping artesian water
from deep underground to the surface making these arid lands productive now
seized and a bore capped it watches over the empty holding tank and water trough a portable steam engine rusts
year-by-year gradually being reclaimed by the earth Other remnants scatter the surrounds it’s pretty obvious from the surrounding
area that the cattleman who used to work out here back in the day loved their
drinks their smokes and probably tin beef there’s all kinds of old cans lying
around and a few bottles here’s the old beer fridge it looks like an old
Kelvinator seen better days ring tabs a little before my time this
here looks like an old donkey boiler it has a inlet and it boils on the ground
there and comes out hot water on the other end may have been a luxury on the
odd occasion Mariala is over twenty-seven thousand
three hundred hectares in size so there’s plenty to explore if you wish to
head off with a compass and map well the Sun is setting on my first
evening here the flies started to get a bit much just after I pulled up and
started looking for a camp but it’s very quiet here there’s virtually no wildlife
only one bird I heard there’s very little water of any sort that I can see
around thus far so it sounds like it will be a very still night I can already feel
the cold coming on so I’ll get this jacket on and get my dinner on early and
then I can be into bed before the cold sweeps through. It’s my first night here so
it’s a very simple meal two snags on bread with some mushrooms and cheese and
of course you’ve got to have some sauce on top for some flavour I’ll try something a bit more fancy tomorrow night so I didn’t make it to the rock pools
yesterday it got a bit too late so I stayed here at the number three bore
camping area but I’m all packed up now and I’ll finish the last 10 kilometres
to rock pools and set up my new camp it was a very peaceful night last night
very still not much wind as soon as the Sun went down the flies disappeared but
a beautiful spot just to stay in total silence. This is the escarpment day use area
there’s not too much up here except a table but it gives you a view of some of
the surrounding landscape all the old rock here that’s gradually collapsing
from the cliff face I was just exploring some of this escarpment country and
where there’s lots of rock you may find little water holes and I just found one
with some water in it still while everything else around is very dry you
can see around here fresh scats and tracks from Wallabies so they know where
to find the water looks like some old Bushman’s work here old star pickets
made into a frame the wire a bit of a rough concrete slab and some old metal
shelving and in typical country style a few old bullet holes as well so who
knows what this was for maybe it was a bit of a shower or something they can
hang up something in the middle here and have some privacy maybe these old
boards and a hard slab so they don’t get their feet all muddy again or dirty from the
dust the area around here is so harsh with
almost no understory or grasses just rock and fine dust like soil so this is the Rock Pools camping area you
have to be completely self-sufficient there’s no utilities no facilities at
all so just two little spots here where you can pull it in a car and set up camp
now you have to book in advance before you get here online to get your camping
permit from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service website if you want to
get away from virtually everything then this is one spot you could come which
isn’t too far from charleville so this is rock pools it’s part of a very
rocky creek system so a lot of water can sink into little sinkholes like this and
you can see here two diggings where the local Wallabies and other wildlife had come to dig out the moisture I put my hand down there it’s still quite damp
dug a bit I’d probably get some water out of it it’s probably a rock bottom and
all this silt and sand and rock has just filled it up over time but you can see my
friend here this wallaby didn’t make it pretty dry out here still and judging
from the other remains it hasn’t had a good wash down through this area for
some time but there’s also some little freshwater mussels so they must be a
native in the area They’re probably still down deep in the lower sandy area
so they might come back out when it rains next time a few more bones
here and a bit of a petrified wallaby up there But if you know where to look you can
find little water bits like this dig it out and get yourself a cup of water
you can see the moisture down in here different colour dig that enough with a
shovel you should be able to get some water out the old jatz tomato cheese and tuna meal
with a bit of fancy spring onion just sitting under a tarp hung off the back
very simply out here nothing to flash it’s impressive how tough some of the
trees are out here just look at this one just you won’t die just will not let
go almost everything else has eaten away but the slightest bit of living tissue
keeps it going I’ve been for a walk around the
surrounding area from the campsite and I can find absolutely nothing there’s very
little wildlife there’s just lots of bones skeletons skulls
it seems anything that was in the area has since moved on it’s just too dry there’s almost nothing like I get the
occasional tweet of a bird maybe once an hour
other than flies there’s nothing I did see a few butterflies way up in the canopy
but no lizards night times a deadly still there’s no crickets the thing I
did hear though are planes it appears to be under a flight path so it’s not exactly away
from it all as I thought it was the farmers are doing it tough out this
way but I think the native wildlife are doing it a lot tougher
they can’t just turn on a bore when they need more water I think if I got
stuck out here I’d give myself two or three days before I’m dead I’d say I
think even my chances of finding sufficient water around here is pretty slim
so I don’t want to go too far from my car
stay nice and safe close to my supply well back to camp and enjoy the
rest of the afternoon reading well I may have spoken a little too soon I was just
walking back and I saw this big old tree with a lot of hollows up top I was just
taking a look around to see in case there was any signs of bees or wasps or
other flying insects going down into it because it could have been a water
source up in there but down below is this big old hollow and I looked inside
and there’s an Echidna so it’s not completely dead out here he’s buried himself in so
I’d say he doesn’t have much to do at this point in time during the day but
he might come out at night looking for some ants it’s my final night so it’s
time to cook up something special this meat I’m carrying it will be expiring
next so that gets cooked now so it will be tacos on tortillas with
lettuce tomato onion and cheese so a very fancy meal for me out here I’ve
just been waiting for the sun to go down sufficiently so the flies start to go
home so I’ll start washing these vegetables get the onion cut up and get
this mince cooking in the pan mince is just about cooked through so
add in the flavoring I think she’s just about finished now okay everything’s set
up ready to go beautiful meal in the bush Please subscribe if you enjoyed this
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