Remote GETAWAY

IDALIA NP, QLD

WORDS & PHOTOS KEVIN SMITH

SMACK-BANG IN THE MIDDLE OF QUEENSLAND LIES IDALIA NATIONAL PARK, AND ON A RECENT TRIP WE FOUND IT HOLDS A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF HISTORY, ENDANGERED WILDLIFE AND REMOTE CAMPING OPTIONS.



THEREíS ONLY one way in and out of Idalia, so locating it is an easy affair; itís a 115km drive southwest of Blackall in central Queensland. Now, before you attempt to visit the park you need to be confident in remotearea travel and camping, and be self-sufficient in every regard as there is no mobile service out here and seeing another camper just may not happen at all. The dirt drive towards the park sees you skirt around the eastern side through large pastoral stations including Collabara Station, which is now Southern Idalia, until you enter the park.

Jump back to 1919, when Herbert Golding decided it was a good move to purchase 45,000ha here and move his wife and three children to this harsh environment to create a lifestyle. The early years saw them survive in a tin hut as they struggled through droughts, wild dogs, termites eating the fences and then the infestation of the prickly pear. In 1924 Herbert moved away during the severe slump in cattle prices, but returned early in 1930 after he managed to secure loans for a properí home, more stock, a vehicle and miles of netting to keep the wild dogs away from his stock. Unfortunately in 1933 a rogue bull knocked him off his horse during mustering and he died from his injuries; his son George took over until 1940 when Collabara was sold.

In recent times (1990) Idalia NP was formed by combining two pastoral leases - Collabara and Old Idalia - as they were originally part of the huge Terrick Terrick property of the Blackall region.


Today there are many relics around the park where it embraces part of the Gowan Ranges and neighbouring plateaus. From the parkís entrance itís not far to the first set of ruins that include the windmill and tanks, old bores and heritage-listed stake fences. Monks Tank is the only designated camping area in the park and is a 23km drive across open Mitchell grass plains and through mulga woodlands on sandy tracks, best with a highclearance 4x4. Along the way, if youíve got the time, take the turns and explore Old Idalia, where a slab hut once stood which was used as a remote mustering hut. Current reports told us it was still standing, but unfortunately thereís now only a pile of timber, corrugated iron and a few bits of rusty relics scattered on the site.

A walking trail behind the rubble leads to Wave Rock, where hundreds of years of weathering has worn away the soft sandstone rock to leave a 100m-long wave-shaped rock, which, for most part, looks like a surfing barrel about to break. For the surefooted, a wander up the trails to the top gives stunning views across the surrounding areas of the silver-leafed acacia trees.

Wildlife in the park includes birds and several species of wallabies; if youíre around during dusk you might see the endangered nail-tail wallaby that once over-populated this area until hunters nearly wiped them out prior to 1930. A nearby reserve has been set up to raise and monitor these animals.

Reading the information boards, Queensland National Parks reports there are six different types of wallabies (or macropods) within Idalia, and they have adapted well to this area by not needing much water to survive. During drought they are not fussy when eating as they are happy to mix their diet between leaves, grass, bark and other animal droppings.

Monks Tank waterhole is very basic with no

A short walk from camp are two waterholes that are a haven for what seems like dozens of varieties of birds, especially at sunrise and sunset. Bird lovers have reported an array of different parrots, finches, robins and bellbirds in the park. While not expert bird spotters, we did see about a dozen different types, as well as tiny marsupial footprints in the red sand around the camp each morning.

Heading out from Monks there are several areas to explore in the more remote regions of the park, and with only one road to follow, navigation is a no-brainer. About 10km away from Monks is Rainbow Gorge, where you can walk along an old creek that, thanks