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'Horrible brigalow' scrub hides fertile soils - and heavy going for Leichhardt.
J 1 Brigalow-country near-Warra Project-Gutenberg.org THUMB

 


  

 

    

 

 

THEN

Brigalow Country lies west of the Dividing Range, extending from the Townsville region to northern New South Wales. It is characterised by a hardy wattle Acacia harpophylla, a root-suckering tree that grows to 25 metres high.

'Brigalow' is thought to be an Aboriginal word referring to various species of wattle. Leichhardt referred to ‘Bricklow’ scrub in his 1844 journal , and Surveyor-General Mitchell mentioned Brigalow scrub in 1848.

In 1884 Sir Samuel Griffith described the country between Dalby and Roma as “horrible brigalow”: early attempts to kill the trees by ringbarking caused suckering, making the scrub worse and further limited pastoral use.

NOW

At the end of the 19th century, countryside cleared of Brigalow became overrun by prickly pear. It wasn’t until this pest was killed off in the 1920s, and razed by fire, that the extent of the productive soils beneath was revealed.

In 1962, the ‘Brigalow Redevelopment Scheme’ used bulldozers, burn-offs, ploughing and aerial spraying to clear 11 million acres (4.5m hectares) of brigalow country in a vast area east of Taroom.

Later research and conservation efforts led to a reappraisal of what Leichhardt and his peers had viewed as an irritating impediment, and a fonder appreciation. In 1995, the town of Biloela, northeast of Taroom, renamed its annual arts festival the ‘Brigalow Arts Festival’.

The rural village of Brigalow is in Samuel Griffiths' 'horrible Brigalow' country, on the Warrego Highway, 16km northwest of Warra, and 25km southeast of Chinchilla. Its primary school opened in 1908. From having a hotel and three churches, only one church continues. There are a hall, a recreation reserve and a general store.

On the easy half-hour drive from Warra to Chinchilla, visitors will find it worth a stop when the grain silos are sighted, to take in the view across the cleared agricultural scene around them. Have a chat with the locals in the general store, and discover more about the district.

Above: A stand of Brigalow on countryside near Warra.(Project Gutenberg.org)

J 2 Brigalow-Tree typical-Brigalow-scrub with Box and Sandalwood forest QueenslandPlaces QAJ137 THUMB

Above: It could almost be Leichhardt himself! A lone ‘pioneer’ looks out from the heights across a typical scene of Brigalow scrub, interspersed with Box and Sandalwood trees. (QuenslandPlaces QAJ137)

J 3 Brigalow General-Store Mattinbgn Wikimedia-Commons THUMB
Above: The Brigalow General Store. (Mattinbgn / Wikimedia Commons)
J 4 Brigalow Condamine River near-dry 2007 ABC THUMB
Above: A very dry Condamine River in 2007 starkly shows the effects of a prolonged Dry, and hints at the sluggish, yellow muddy waters encountered by Leichhardt in 1844.  (ABC)
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