Urandangi
Collage of Urandangi.

Begin in outback north-west Queensland, locate the middle of nowhere and then head for the Northern Territory border and you'll come across Urandangi. A dusty, unpopulated collection of houses, shacks, shantys, caravans and humpys with the Urandangi Pub ('The Dangi' - dan-jee) as the centrepiece. Sound unattractive? If you're looking for an isolated bush town, laying sleepily on wide open, sparsely vegetated plains, resplendent in the reds and browns of an archetypical outback landscape - Urandangi could be your paradise.

Primarily an indigenous settlement Urandangi started life as a general store in 1885. The first school opened four years later and closed it's doors in 1910 due to a shortage of students. Education was never highly prized amongst pioneering Queensland communities who understood that an adolescent sitting in a classroom could be much better utilised on the back of a horse. Whether there were no kids at Urandangi at the turn of the century or whether parents simply failed to send them is unknown. What is known is that the tiny settlement has a school today, with most of the students coming from the local Marmanya Aboriginal community. Apart from the Dangi Pub it's the only other building in town that serves some sort of official purpose. The hotel is also the Post Office.

Urandangi has had it's share of drama over the years. Droughts, floods, monumental heat waves and other natural catastrophes have combined with the colourful history of the early settlers to create an image of a wild and remote outpost. Stabbing murders, the death of guests as hotels burned to the ground and lost pioneer aviators were all part of the early pastoral landscape. The 1889 Brisbane Courier published this plea - "We are 200 miles from Boulia, and the nearest police station is there. Crime here is prevalent and on the increase, and as the town is fast growing we should have some protection from criminals, who are always to be found in such a district. I may mention that during the past four months burglary, horse-stealing, stabbing, thieving of all kinds, and serious assaults have been committed here."

Established as a supply depot at a crossing on the Georgina River, Urandangi has long ceased to be a vital waypoint for the cattle industry. In 1950 it was a different story. Station owners from Alice Springs were suffering from a prolonged drought and Urandangi had been blessed with a season of good rainfall, which meant plenty of water and plenty of feed. Drovers pushed 15,000 head of beef across the Northern Territory and over the Queensland border into Urandangi to save the herd from perishing.

So what can Urandangi offer the outback tourist. Well, there's fishing in the river, plenty of feral camels wandering about, some local art on sale and a pioneer cemetery. The Dangi Pub wouldn't dream of selling anything but the coldest beer and can even whip up a meal with a bit of notice. Camping is free and pretty well anywhere you lay out a swag and the landscape is pure Australian outback.


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