Tiny service town with Budgeroo trees and a Flying Fox community
Duaringa is a tiny settlement of less than 500 people which came into existence as a base camp for railway workers. Today few people stop as they pass through the town on the Capricorn Highway. However there are two natural attractions: the unusual "Budgeroo" trees in Mackenzie Park which flower during the spring and were used extensively by the local Aborigines and a very persistent colony of flying foxes who have been moved a number of times but keep coming back to Mackenzie Park.
Duaringa is located 718 km north-west of Brisbane via Rockhampton and the Capricorn Highway. It is 112 km west of Rockhampton.^ TOP
Origin of Name
No one knows how Duaringa was named. Some suggest that it may be the Aboriginal word for "oak", others contend that it means the "meeting place of the swampy oaks", and still others suggest that it means "to turn oneself around". The Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies says simply: "The possibilities would seem to be: that Duaringa could well be a local word or name which did not find its way into any written record of the language; or it could be a now unrecognisable corruption of a local or other word or name; or it could be an import, from another part of Australia, or from somewhere else altogether." There is another interpretation: it is named after a woman named Inga Anderson.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Mackenzie Park and the Budgeroo
Unless you know exactly what you are looking for (I looked and couldn't see) it is necessary to ask a local. Mackenzie Park, which is located on the eastern side of town and just off the Capricorn Highway, is home to a rare tree that is only found in the Duaringa township. The Duaringa Stringy Bark, known to local Aborigines as 'Budgeroo', grows up to 10 metres tall and has bushy foliage with small white flowers that bloom in spring. These trees were of great cultural significance to the Ghungala people who used the bark to make rope, baskets and building materials.
Little Red Flying Foxes in Mackenzie Park
Nearby, but not in the Budgeroo trees, is a substantial colony of flying foxes. The Visitor Information Centre has an interesting sheet of information about "the problem" they create. Apparently "Flying fox dispersal activities can only take place under certain circumstances when the roost is causing detrimental impacts to the health and safety of a community. Additionally, dispersal cannot occur when the flying foxes are in birthing and rearing season due to the dependency of young on their mothers. The Little Red flying foxes that have roosted in Duaringa have done so during the normal birthing and rearing season of April to early October." There are regular attempts to disperse the flying foxes ... but with no great success. They were moved about one kilometre in 2012 and were well established back in Mackenzie Park by 2016. The Visitor Information Fact Sheet notes: "Little Red Flying-foxes are known to hang out at many different habitats. They are highly nomadic, taking up camp wherever their favourite flowers and fruits are in season. As part of their nomadic behaviour they are visiting Duaringa as they journey along the eastern coast of Australia following the flowering of eucalypts, bloodwoods and angophoras. They supplement their diet by eating fruit found in gardens, orchards, parks and streetscaping. Little Reds nomadic lifestyle takes advantage of local flowering and climatic conditions, with the species known to move on in search on new food sources every few months."
Other Attractions in the Area
Blackdown Tablelands National Park
Located 35 km from Blackwater and 11 km west of Dingo (turn off the Capricorn Highway between Bluff and Dingo) are the spectacular Blackdown Tablelands which are managed by the traditional owners, the Ghungalu Aboriginal people. The tablelands are a sandstone island which rises 600 metres above the surrounding plains.
The 23,000 ha Blackdown Tableland National Park is characterised by waterfalls, dramatic cliffs, excellent bushwalks and Aboriginal rock art. The tablelands were formed millions of years ago when a shift in the earth's plates pushed this sandstone and sedimentary rock upwards from an inland lake.
The Queensland Department of National Parks website (https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/blackdown-tableland/about.html) explains: "The park supports diverse plant communities including heathlands, dry eucalypt forests and moist pockets of ferns, mosses and orchids. Being elevated, the tableland is often cooler and moister than nearby plains. Its isolation means plants and animals that are found nowhere else thrive here. These include the Blackdown stringybark, a macrozamia, red bottlebrush, the Blackdown “monster” (a type of underground cricket) and a Christmas beetle." There is a rich Aboriginal history characterised by a number of interesting artefacts including examples of rock art.
There's a sealed road to the edge of the mountains which turns south from the Capricorn Highway. It travels for some distance across flat land but when it starts to climb up to the tablelands it gets steep and winding. Roads past the entrance shelter are unsealed and winding. Some sections of the park are accessible to 2WD vehicles driven with care, but you will require a 4WD vehicle for the Loop Road to Mitha Boongulla.
The reward once you reach the top of the tableland at Yaddamen Dhina (Horseshoe Lookout) is a magnificent view of rugged cliff faces with the lowlands stretching away to the horizon.
There are a number of walking tracks in the park - to Goodela from Yaddamen Dhina (1.8 km) and to Goon Goon Dhina (2.5 km) and Mook Mook (1.2 km) from the Munall camping ground. Camping facilities at Yaddamen Dhina and Munall camping grounds comprise pleasant bush settings with toilets, fireplaces and picnic tables though you do need to bring your own drinking water. Check out http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/blackdown-tableland/about.html for more details.
* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was home to the Ghungala Aboriginal people.
* The first European to pass through the area was Ludwig Leichhardt who explored to the west of the present townsite. He observed the large coal deposits near Blackwater which are now such a vital part of the shire's wealth.
* After Leichhardt came the Archer brothers, Charles and William, searching for good grazing lands for their cattle.
* It wasn't until 1875, with the building of the railway west from Rockhampton, that a camp was briefly established on the site of the present town.
* The railway arrived in 1876 and was extended to Emerald by 1879.
* In 1881 Duaringa became a separate local government division.
* By 1892 coal was being mined west of Blackwater.
* Duaringa survived because the settlement of the area was sufficiently dense to sustain a small township. It is now the headquarters of the shire which is rather ironic given that Blackwater, the booming coal mine town, is about 16 times larger.
* In 1970 railway branch lines were opened to the mines at South Blackwater and Cook.
* The Curragh open pit mine was opened in 1983.^ TOP
Duaringa Historical and Information Centre, Mackenzie Park, Duaringa, tel: (07) 4935 7077.^ TOP
There is a local website which has useful information. Check out http://www.capricornholidays.com.au/destinations/duaringa/attractions/mackenzie-park.^ TOP