Dularcha National Park Sunshine Coast

Photo credit: © Lise Pedersen

Nature, culture and history

    Natural environment

    Dularcha National Park protects tall eucalypt forests, woodlands, forests with a mix of eucalypt and rainforest species and rainforest.

    A wide variety of birds can be seen here because of the diversity of forest habitats—white-browed scrubwren, emerald dove, pheasant coucal, double-barred finch, red-backed fairy-wren, yellow-faced honeyeater, spotted pardalote, rufous fantail and scaly-breasted lorikeet are just a few species you may encounter.

    This area is home to koalas, goannas, possums and grey kangaroos.

    Obtain a park species list.

    Culture and history

    Aboriginal links to the land

    The Sunshine Coast area was a special meeting place where many Aboriginal people gathered for ceremonies and trading. The Glass House Mountains area is considered spiritually significant with many ceremonial sites still present and protected today.

    Aboriginal people could 'read' environmental signs and knew that certain events (such as a tree flowering) heralded another food supply. The people here planned large festivals and gatherings such as bunya nut festivals in the Blackall Range when local food sources were peaking. This way a crowd of hundreds of people could be catered for with minimal effort. Early missionaries in this area saw gatherings of thousands of people.

    The Sunshine Coast region sustained people for thousands of years with many resources from a varied and rich environment which included river systems, open forests, coastal wetlands and mountain forests.

    European settlement

    During the 1860s, much changed on the Sunshine Coast. Vast areas of timber were felled and burnt to make way for farming and stock. The railway from Caboolture to Landsborough, built in 1890, opened the way for more intensive settlement.

    As the train line construction continued further north, the Dularcha railway tunnel was built to provide an essential link through the hillier terrain. It is one of only two tunnels built along the old narrow-gauge, North Coast Line between Brisbane and Gympie. Building the tunnel was labour-intensive work undertaken by T.J. Jessor and Co. Their workers built the concrete lined tunnel using basic machinery and horses to assist with carting heavy loads.

    When the line was officially opened on 1 January 1891, it became possible to travel from Brisbane to Gympie and back in a 12hr trip—a major achievement, linking communities and reducing travel time! Among the route’s first travellers were troops sent to quell a Shearers' strike.

    The railway became an important freight transport and passenger route through Queensland as it extended further north. Travel through the tunnel ceased in 1932 when the railway line was moved east to its present day location.

    The tunnel was briefly used for mushroom farming in 1942 and reopened for public access in the 1950s.

    Dularcha tunnel specifications

    • Location: North Coast Line No. 1
    • Length: 4.65 chains/102.3 lin yards (93.5m)
    • Excavated:  2457 cubic yards (1879 cubic metres)
    • Grade: 1 in 50
    • Curved: 15 chains (300m) radius to right
    • Floor height above sea level: 255.90 feet (78m)
    • Maximum height of earth above floor level: 82.02 feet (25m)

    The first section of Dularcha National Park was gazetted in 1921 to provide steam train passengers with views of Queensland’s forests. In 2010 Mooloolah Forest Reserve was added to the national park increasing the park area to 471 hectares.

    • There are currently no park alerts for this park.