Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Undara: Pioneer Track

Although there might be a coach load of day trippers in the car park, it doesn't take long to escape the horde. Most visitors pile into minibuses to go on tours of the lava tubes. The Savanna Guides show them the sights and give a good commentary on the natural and social history of the area. Only a small number of visitors explore the walking tracks.

That suits me fine. Most of the time I'd rather be where other people aren't.

And they aren't on the tracks.

No people

The Pioneer Track follows the path of the old telegraph line, which ran along the coast from Brisbane to Cardwell, then west across the ramparts of the Seaview Range and the inland plains to Normanton on the Gulf of Carpentaria. It was completed in 1872. In the same year, another line was finished. That one ran from Adelaide to Port Darwin.

When the submarine telegraph link was finally established between Java and Australia, the cable came ashore at Port Darwin. Queensland missed it by that much quite a big distance really.

Line workers used ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra) as a source of wood for everything except the poles themselves. Consequently, many of the older trees along the track are forked, having grown back with two trunks from the cut surface.

The telegraph poles were made from cypress pine (Callitris intratropica), a native conifer that is highly termite-resistant.

In a termite-filled landscape, this pole has survived for almost 130 years

More termites than you can poke a stick at. Not that you'd get your stick back. They're termites, after all.

This replica pioneer hut is at the end of the walk. It's in better condition than my place.

I'm considering replacing my weatherboards with slabs of ironbark lashed together with green hide. I might avoid the crushed termite mound floor, especially if I have to moisten it with cattle blood.

Mond you, if I did, I'd certainly be where other people aren't.

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