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Mungallala .. a trip down memory lane

sunny 40 °C

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A lovely 'welcome' to Mungallala ... painted on a saw blade, depicting the three main industries of the area ... timber, sheep and cattle.

Our family was introduced to the outback when my sister was transferred to Mungallala in 1965 as a recently graduated teacher to complete her 'remote area' service. This was compulsory at the time to ensure the more remote areas had available teachers. She was swept off her feet by a local grazier from one of the pioneering families of the area ... and stayed. . In country Australia there is a saying that you are not considered a 'local' until you have lived in the town for over 20 years. My sister is definitely not only a 'local', but has been a major contributor having being a teacher to many of the kids of the town, and an active participant in community 'ups and downs' over these years.

They still have their cattle and sheep property a little way out of town, with cattle and 2500 sheep (for wool production), but they have also been licencees of the Club Hotel ... fondly referred to as the 'Munga Pub' .. since 1998.

This area was first explored by Major Thomas Mitchell on his expedition into the outback in 1846, with brave souls taking up occupation of what were termed 'runs' of unoccupied Crown land, with the first in the Mungallala area around the early 1860s. Cobb and Co services began in 1876, and the railway around 1885. My brother-in-law's family arrived in 1902, and have continued to work (and expand) the original property since that time.

The first licence for a hotel was granted in 1906, but unfortunately that two-storey building was destroyed by fire in 1918. It was replaced by the building that stands today which is at least 100 years old. It is a typical country pub which carries the stories, the history, the energy, and the passions of the community, and is the heart and the hub of all that goes on in a small town.

The sawmill, which processes cypress pine from state forests north of Mungallala, is the main employer, with approximately 20 staff. .The changing times have caused most of the businesses in town to close (butcher, garage, general store), with many of the locals having to move away for employment. However, the community spirit remains.

The Mungallala Progress and Sporting Association Incorporated is the voice for the community, and supports, and facilitates, the various activities. We were amazed what is available. Check these out.

The Memorial Hall where community activities, dances etc are held. It also houses the library and the post office.
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The recreation centre offers a children's play area, tennis , basketball, netball, futsal courts, AND a community garden. Amazing.
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Also, an exercise machine providing three strength exercises
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A cricket wicket and (lush green!!) oval, complete with a pavilion for spectators to watch the excitement, and/or enjoy a refreshing beer.
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AND ... the pièce de résistance .... a 3-hole golf course, which runs around the outside of the oval.

Click on the link to check out their promotional video. How could one resist playing one of the 'most exclusive clubs in the world' .. where 'skill is optional'
The Royal Box

273e9970-39b1-11ea-b571-bdc95160e63b.JPG ..... 1st tee
3351e0a0-39b1-11ea-8648-2339a0ebb532.JPG .....4th tee

The water supply for the town is provided from the town bore, and is clear enough to drink only treated with chlorination.
A little further on from the rec centre is a dam .. currently empty .... called the Turkey's Nest. .In times of drought it is still possible for graziers to obtain a permit to graze their cattle along the 'stock route' to obtain feed. . When a permit is allocated for a herd to pass through the township, the dam can be filled from the town bore to ensure water is available. Yes, the drover still exists.

This info on the stock routes is taken from the Queensland Government website. It's another aspect of Australian life, and the 'outback' in particular, that such a service is required, and available.

Stock routes include 72,000km of roads, reserves, and corridors on pastoral leases and unallocated state land. Together with dedicated reserves for travelling stock, they make up the 2.6 million hectare Queensland stock route network. To use the stock route network, you need permits for: travelling stock on foot, grazing (agistment) of stock, using water facilities.

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The police station is currently unmanned .. the police presence comes from the nearest town of Mitchell
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The dead centre of town ( I know ... an old joke)
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Even in this small town the Rural Fire Service is imperative. Manned by local volunteers who are advised by an 'alert' via the 000 emergency service, they immediately stop what they are doing and assemble at this local depot.
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As mentioned previously, the Cobb and Co passenger and mail stagecoach services began in 1876. This park was the original site .. now a public toilet facility for travellers. The Progress Association commissioned the art work on the block, as well as the unique statue of the drover and his dog which stands in the grounds of the Memorial Hall.

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We had the pleasure of being in Mungallala at the big event Mungallala Reunion - Easter weekend 1981. Everyone who had anything to do with Mungallala's past was there ... over 1000 people attended. . As part of the official functions a 'time capsule' was compiled providing historic information of the local area which was opened at the school centenary in 2004. Another capsule was then put in its place, to be opened in 2029 (25 years).
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A glimpse of the road out of town showing the mulga woodlands and shrublands which are predominant in the area.
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Mungallala Creek ... and beautiful 'Black Kites' flying high above. Since we returned from our trip 35mm of rain has fallen. Added a little water to the creek, but more is needed .But it definitely lifted the spirits of the locals.
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Then (1981) ... and now.
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Aaron, Braden and I arrived in Mungallala on the 'Westlander' at this little station in 1981 . Today these two cuties look expectantly down the track for the train, but unfortunately the passenger service no longer operates.

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Chas came across this telephone booth on his exploration of the town. On impulse he picked up the handset and was very surprised to find not only that it is still operational, BUT calls are free. So he promptly phoned me at the pub to tell me so. I expect this is a 'service' provided for the safety of travellers in case of emergency.
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In its heyday Mungallala had four churches .. Methodist, Uniting, Anglican and Catholic. While this is the only building that has survived, it is now privately owned and provides a great service as a granny flat for visiting guests.

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On the Saturday evening Mungallala gave us a 'unique' outback experience .. a dust storm came through town. It wasn't the type that you may have seen on Facebook where the dust rolls in like a cloud. It moved slowly over the evening, but its presence was very evident the next morning.

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The Pub

This is an example of the importance of the 'pub' to the functioning of the town .. The sign says:: "Christmas Mass Sunday Dec 23, 4 pm held at the Mungallala Pub. All welcome." .What can one say!!

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6a35b240-39b1-11ea-b571-bdc95160e63b.JPG ... country humour
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.... writing your signature, or a little ditty, is encouraged. There's not a lot of room left, on the walls ... or the ceiling.

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Mungallala School .. The best small school in the west

This is a one-teacher school, hoping for nine students when school commences this year.

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Wow... we had a lovely time. After 1,200km or so, and one week, we arrived back on the Sunshine Coast. Whilst driving through Maleny with lush green grass and flowering agapanthus everywhere, I took a quick glimpse of The Glasshouse Mountains. Beautiful. But that's Australia .. a country of diversity, and extremes.

I hope you have enjoyed sharing our trip. The Australia bush is a unique experience. I would expect many city folk never have, or do not take, the opportunity to experience it. So, if the opportunity to do so comes along, take it. Drop into the Munga Pub, and say 'g'day'.

Posted by patsaunder 13:28 Archived in Australia

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Comments

I really enjoyed all the photos. I remember the town very clearly, even though I was a kid when I was there last. I think there are more trees around the school house. Looks like Marg and Bruce removed the butchers shop too.

So happy you and Marg spent some time together.

by aaronsaunders

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