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Nature, culture and history
Mapleton National Park is located in the scenic Blackall Range, a landscape created by volcanoes and sculpted by water over millions of years.
Rich basalt soils, a result of volcanic activity around 30 million years ago, support warm subtropical rainforest. Tall open forests grow on poorer quality rhyolitic soils derived from a violent volcanic period that began 235 million years ago.
On the edge of the escarpment, waterfalls cascade all year round—thundering and spectacular during the summer rainfall season, then dropping to a gentle trickle in drier winter months.
Mapleton Falls, Kondalilla and Mapleton National Parks and other small reserves protect the Blackall Range's remnant forest communities, provide essential wildlife habitat; and scenic places for nature-based recreation.
At least 107 species of birds live in the Blackall Ranges parks. They include the Australasian figbird, which can be seen feeding on piccabeen fruits in the rainforest.
Native animals recorded for the Blackall and nearby Conondale Ranges include 70 species of reptiles and 32 species of frogs. These include the vulnerable cascade treefrog Litoria pearsoniana, endangered giant barred frog Mixophyes iteratus and vulnerable tusked frog Adelotus brevis.
Caring for wildlife
Plant and animal diversity is high in this area, but habitat clearing and loss of vegetation along the range has threatened some species. Natural corridors of vegetation linking larger reserves are essential to minimise isolation of species and to maximise the genetic breeding pool, helping to avoid local extinction.
Some species that occur only in this local area are rare or vulnerable to extinction. Research and recovery plans are in place to give these species a chance to recover to healthy population levels.
The waterways are of vital importance for the well-being of animals and people. As the upper reaches of all streams here are on private land, careful land management in surrounding properties is needed to keep the water clean and life-sustaining.
Several frog monitoring sites are located across the Blackall Range as part of planned research and recovery efforts for vulnerable, rare and endangered species. Some frog species are found only along streams in the Blackall and Conondale Ranges.
The endangered giant barred frog, Mixophyes iteratus, is found along shallow rocky streams or deep, slow moving streams in rainforest, wet open forest and farmland. During the 1980s, this frog disappeared from at least two streams in the Conondale Range, and populations continue to decline. The main threats to the giant barred frog are upstream clearing, decreased water quality and disturbance to riparian vegetation. Recovery plans are in place to try and halt the decline of this species. Cascade tree frogs, Litoria pearsoniana, have been increasing in numbers and have had their status upgraded from endangered to vulnerable—a step in the right direction!
Mary River cod
The Mary River cod, Maccullochella mariensis, is an endangered species in the wild, occurring only in small isolated populations in the Mary River catchment, which includes Lake Baroon and Obi Obi Creek.
Government agencies and community groups have worked together on the Mary River cod's recovery plan. As part of this plan, you cannot take this fish from anywhere in the Mary River catchment. Populations are monitored and the restriction is reviewed every three years.
Bonyee (the Kabi Kabi word for bunya) festival
For countless generations, the Blackall Range has held spiritual significance for many Aboriginal people throughout South-East Queensland.
Abundant bunya pines growing throughout this area produced large nut crops, providing enough food for huge gatherings. When the nut crop peaked every three years, Kabi Kabi and neighbouring Wakka Wakka people hosted the Bonyee Festival. Many invited guests travelled great distances from coastal and inland areas to share food, songs and dances, arrange marriages, and other social interactions. A large grassy area near Baroon Pocket was an important gathering place.
Pastoralists and timber-getters
From 1842 until 1860, the Blackall Range was part of a large reserve declared by Governor Gipps to protect the bunya pine food source for local Indigenous groups. It was illegal to settle or clear land where bunya pines occurred.
When reserve status was rescinded, pastoralists and timber-getters came. In the 1880s prized timber including red cedar, white beech, bunya pine, blackbutt and tallowwood was logged in the Blackall Range. Widespread clearing of the tableland forests ensued as settlement proceeded. However, some small areas were set aside for recreation.
Back to nature
From the early 1900s, people began visiting this area for its natural scenery, waterfalls and spectacular views.
The first area to be protected was Kondalilla—in 1906 it became a recreational area, then a national park in 1945. Since then, reserves have been added across the Blackall Range to protect remnants of its natural communities. Kondalilla National Park (327ha) was linked to Obi Obi National Park in 1988. With additions, including former State forest, it has increased in size to an area of 1591ha.
Mapleton Falls (26ha) became a national park in 1973, after being a reserve for recreational and scenic purposes for 38 years.
Mapleton National Park (6455ha) was gazetted on 28 March 2014 and is an amalgamation of Mapleton Forest Reserve and Delicia Road Conservation Park.
The Sunshine Coast Regional Council’s Heritage library section offers more information about the history of the Blackall ranges.