The park protects many unusual plants and animals, including the Eungella dayfrog, Mackay tulip oak, Eungella spiny cray and Eungella honeyeater. This isolated mountain refuge lies close to the boundary between subtropical and tropical rainforests and supports species from both vegetation types.
Much of the park is remote and inaccessible, and is dissected by gorges. Rainforest dominates the area, but open eucalypt woodland grows on Dick's Tableland in the rugged north-western part of the park. Flowering bottlebrushes and tall river she-oaks line the meandering Broken River—home to platypus.
Hear Ranger Rowan Heymink chatting about the special features of Eungella, including the unique wildlife that call this park home. (Courtesy ABC Radio).
You're with Cat Feeney on ABC Radio Brisbane in Queensland.
Just imagine you are walking through a beautiful patch of Queensland’s wilderness and there’s a little stream and you hear something.
Oh, my goodness, what is that? Would you be able to identify that sound if you heard it? Well, let me paint you an even better picture. The stream that you might have heard that sound in is sitting in a national park in the Sunshine State. It’s a rather special national park, one that is home to creatures that don’t sound exactly like that, but are important nonetheless. I’m talking about a particular type of spiny crayfish, a particular type of frog, and that animal. So, what is it, where is it? You’ll find out right after this.
Queensland has 250 plus national parks. We’re going to take you to one this afternoon. Your guide is Park Ranger, Rowan Heymink. Rowan, good afternoon. Where are we travelling today?
Good afternoon, Kath. Today we are travelling to Eungella National Park.
Eungella National Park. Put me on a map, where are we?
For those who haven’t heard of Eungella, it’s in central Queensland, about 80km west of Mackay. And it sits right atop the Clark Connors Range, at quite a high altitude. The landscape here is dominated by a unique cloud rainforest.
Let’s talk about some of the other special features of this park, and I’m talking about the creatures. I played a little bit of the sound of a particular type of animal that mystified the world when Europeans first came across it, a couple of hundred years ago. And it’s still fairly elusive. The platypus likes to make its home in your park. How many?
It sure does. It’s hard to put a number on them but there’s definitely no shortage of platypus here. I guarantee if you’re patient enough you’ll absolutely get to see one in the wild. I’d say that’s why most people come up here, to see one of the fascinating native animals swimming in their natural habitat.
They are just extraordinary. I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing one in the wild so I’m writing Eungella down on my list of places to visit in Queensland. But it’s not just the platypus. There are many other wonderful creatures in your park. A couple of them are pretty endangered. You’ve got a crayfish and a frog?
Yes, that’s right. There are quite a few animals which have evolved to be locally quite distinct. And we have others which are completely unique and endemic to the Eungella area. Seeing as its Bird Week, I’d have to go with the Eungella honeyeater. This bird is similar to the platypus, in that we get people coming up here for the sole reason of seeing one of these birds in the wild, and they’re not found anywhere else. They’re one of the last described birds in Australia, and, locally, they could almost be quite common, however they are still considered vulnerable due to the fact they are so isolated and have such a small distribution.
Can you do the sound that they might make? Do they have a call?
Yeah, they do but I don’t think I’d do that one justice! There are plenty of recordings online to put you in the right direction.
The Eungella honeyeater, one of the fantastic features of the Eungella National Park in central Queensland, 80km west of Mackay, through the scenic Pioneer Valley. What do you need to know about getting there, please, Park Ranger, Rowan Heymink? Is it accessible?
Yes, it’s quite easily accessible. Most people tend to race up and down the east coast, either heading north or south, but its certainly worthwhile stopping and taking a slight detour west of Mackay. You just follow the signs straight up through the Pioneer Valley, which is quite an enjoyable drive through beautiful grazing land and cane farms. And all of a sudden this range just rises up around you. Before you know it, you’re climbing up and up and up, and that’s when you know you’re arriving at somewhere that’s pretty special.
I can’t imagine how beautiful your job must be on a day to day basis, keeping everything in order in this special part of the state. If I was to have a bit of a holiday up there, what’s the camping situation like?
We’ve got some fantastic amenities here considering how remote and wild this area is. There are toilets available at all of our campgrounds and day use areas. There’s a good selection of picnic tables, we have gas barbecue facilities. There’s an information centre which is run by a fantastic group of volunteers, and also a kiosk for light refreshments.
Well obviously, pets aren’t allowed but that’s ok, lots of opportunity to enjoy the different kind of wildlife. I need to ask, Rowan, as the boss of the park, what’s your secret tip? Can you give us something special that you like to do that you think other people would enjoy too?
I’m not going to give out all of my ‘tips’. Certainly, my pick would have to be Finch Hatton Gorge. It’s a slightly different section of Eungella National Park, which is accessed from the valley. There are signs to turn off within a couple hundred metres of Finch Hatton township. Finch Hatton Gorge has this beautiful pristine emerald green rainforest, huge granite boulders, crystal-clear creeks and streams, which run right down from the mountaintops, endless variety of cascades and falls, and arguably some of the best freshwater swimming holes in the country.
That sounds magnificent. Thanks for sharing your patch of paradise with us this afternoon. Ranger Rowan Heymink taking us through Eungella National Park.
Parks and forests protect Queensland's wonderful natural diversity and scenery. Please help keep these places special during your stay.
- Stay on the walking tracks. Taking shortcuts causes erosion and damages vegetation.
- Leave your pets at home—you will protect your pet and native wildlife, and come across more animals on your walk.
- Never feed or leave food for animals—you might be bitten or scratched. Let animals find their own food. Our foods can be harmful.
- Pack strong rubbish bags for storing rubbish during your journey. Take all rubbish home with you. Carry a small container for cigarette butts.
- Always use a fuel stove to reduce fire danger.
See the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.
Eungella National Park (previously Broken River National Park) was first gazetted in 1936. It is managed by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Qld) to preserve and present its remarkable natural and cultural values for all time.
A management plan for this park will be prepared in the future.
For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.
The natural, cultural and historical significance of Eungella