Driving through Mungallala leaves one with a passing sense of insignificance, where travelling through the town may be forgotten at the next bend in the road. A couple of extra-wide, dual lane strips of bitumen are populated with a smattering of rundown buildings, often accompanied by interesting looking piles of rusty relics.
The occasional overgrown, empty building catches the eye, hinting of a time past when Mungallala was more than just a dot on a map. Federation style shops clad in weatherboard and corrugated iron with flaking paint and footpath-wide verandahs, conjure images of a parade of Saturday morning townsfolk, rolling parasols across shoulders and greeting each other enthusiastically.
The Mungallala Club Hotel seems to host the only activity in town and manages to retain some of the authority of the past. The interior is decorated with memorabilia and various rural mementos, reminding of the region's pastoral heritage. The name Mungallala is taken from an aboriginal word meaning a place of food and water. Appropriate that this old outback hotel has adopted the name. It's not the original hotel. That was a grand two storey affair that burnt to the ground in 1918.
Even though Mungallala is home to only 50 residents it still manages to operate a tiny rural school with about ten students. Mungallala may have shrunk away, like many country towns, but the kids study in a neat little building equipped with computers and modern teaching aids. They also have access to a public library with internet access that opens two days a week. The beauty about small country libraries is although they may only have enough resources to stock a small collection of books, they have access to the huge metropolitan libraries, and can pretty well get anything on loan.
Surprisingly, Mungallala has an active sawmill operation near town. Established by Hodson & Co. in 1955 much of the timber used in the local buildings was milled right here in Mungallala. The mill specialises in Cypress Pine which has proven to be extremely termite resistant.
Mungallala is part of the Maranoa Shire Council on the Warrego Highway, 600km west of Brisbane. The district is often referred to as the beginning of the outback.
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