I arrived in Wallangarra on a rather wet afternoon and thought it rather strange to see a tree taking shelter under what looked like a rather new tin shed. However, with the rain picking up speed, I thought I’d go and join the tree to see what was happening and to take advantage of the shelter whilst I did so.
I am starting to become accustomed to seeing important trees in the outback, preserved for prosperity in a number of ways and broadly speaking they tend to fall into two categories. Firstly there are the trees that are referred to as the “Black Stump” which means once you are passed it, you are in the true outback. The other kind of preserved tree is that of a boundary marker and the tree here in Wallangarra was one such beast. The Wallangarra tree was the original survey mark when the boarder of New South Wales and Queensland was defined 1865.
Next door to the tree is the Hotel Wallangarra and an owner who obviously has a sense of humour. For the benefit of travellers from New South Wales, the pub is called “The First Pub In Queensland” and for those leaving the sunshine state, is is referred to as the “Last Pub in Queensland”.
On visiting towns, its always interesting to seek out the reason for its original existence. Was it to exploit a gold field, opels or tin, or maybe to farm the land with livestock or crops? Well Wallangarra has a rather unusual reason for existing and it comes not only through its location on the boarder, but also because of the railway line that passes through.
In the early days of rail on the Australian continent little thought was given to interconnectivity of the various rail networks in the different states. However, when such thinking did come about, the use of different rail gauge sizes across the country did not make this easy. Wallangarra came into existance purely to be a “break-of-gauge” location between the narrow gauge track from Brisbane and standard gauge track from Sydney when they met at Wallangarra. Not only did passengers have to change trains at the break of gauge at Wallangarra so too did goods resulting in one train being unloaded onto the hopefully waiting new train to continue the journey.
The railway was the only rail link between Queensland and New South Wales until a standard gauge track was completed in 1932. Wallangarra’s importance to the rail networks gradually lessened with scheduled rail services ceasing in 1997 and the station now serves as a museum.
With the rain easing momentarily I say goodbye to my new tree friend and make a dash for the car before heading off further into Queensland to Dalveen.