Cris is an Organiser of the Group Hiking South East Qld and More on Meetup. Visit the website at https://www.meetup.com/HikingInSEQLDandMore/ is free to join all the activities posted on the hiking group.
Published June 1st 2023
Maryvale is strategically located in the Darling Downs near the Cunningham Highway. Its history is connected to the Aboriginal people, the explorations of Alan Cunningham, the first settlers and the railway line. The historical Crown Hotel is the major attraction with its quaint atmosphere, country food and pub. Spending time in Maryvale means having a real past and present experience.
Located in the Great Dividing Range, Maryvale is a small town dedicated to farming in the Darling Downs. Maryvale is the first community off the Cunningham Hwy going west from the Cunningham Gap. The Cunningham Hwy has connected Brisbane and the Gold Coast with the Darling Downs over the Main Range since 1927. In the 2021 census, the locality of Maryvale counted 392 people. The traditional owners of the region are the Gidabhal people.
The town of Maryvale is situated in a great position, being near the Main Range National Park with its stunning natural attractions, the Gondwana Rainforests and the amazing hiking trails. Maryvale is a great base for hiking, exploring and visiting the Darling Downs and localities in the Great Dividing Range.
The area of Maryvale was taken up by Europeans after the explorations of Alan Cunningham. Originally the name of the town was Strathmillar. In 1849 it was bought by Arnold Vienhold, a young man from a wealthy family and he renamed the town Maryvale, after his sister Mary.
In the town itself, the main attractions are the historical Crown Hotel, Millar Vale Creek Park and the history of the place.
The Crown Hotel.
When you enter Maryvale, the Crown Hotel certainly stands out with its rustic appearance, tables and chairs under the arches and the beautiful verandas adorning the building.
The Crown Hotel is practically placed in the middle of town and it is a great place to stop for dining and accommodation when travelling, exploring or when returning from hiking the trails in the rugged and beautiful Main Range National Park.
In 1912 Bridget and her husband Constable Matt Keefe decide to build a hotel that was to endure over the years. Reinforced concrete and steel were used to make the building stronger and in 1913 the Crown Hotel opened its doors. The railway line opened in 1911 and the community was busy with enough patrons for the pub.
There is a fireplace to warm up the cold nights, the pub is very well stocked up and the guests can enjoy the quaint atmosphere.
Inside the hotel, you can soak up the friendly country atmosphere. Head to the register to order a tasty meal and choose a drink. Straight in front of you is the pub, and on your left is the dining room. A corridor takes the visitors upstairs where there are four charming rooms where to spend the night.
The Crown Hotel is the custodian of the history of the town, like a quirky museum. History is showcased on the walls of the dining room with maps and pictures. There is a lovely fireplace to keep the room warm and cosy. The winter nights can be very chilly considering Maryvale is about 1,200 m above sea level.
If you prefer you can sit outside where there are tables under the verandas where you can enjoy the views and the outdoors.
The Crown Hotel offers the guests a seasonal and homestyle menu with pub favourites served from Wednesday to Sunday. The pizza menu is available from Wednesday to Sunday nights. The lunch and dinner menu is available from Thursday to Sunday. Kids menu is also available. The prices are reasonable and the food is great.
The dining room with the large map on the wall and the historical photos.
Via Recta was a proposed railway line to connect to Brisbane and Sydney in order to increase the traffic of goods between the states of New South Wales and Queensland. Via Recta included the project of the Mount Edwards branch from Ipswich passing through Spicers Gap, but it was never built.
The Maryvale railway line covered about 30 km to Warwick, stopping at Gladfield, Clintonvale, Freestone, Campbell's Plains, Sladevale and Womina. It was officially opened on the 30 Septemeber 1911 and it was considered an extraordinary event which attracted about 5,000 people.
The line closed in November 1960 due to the upgrade of the Cunningham Highway through the Cunningham Gap, the roads were getting more popular for transport.
Today there is little evidence of the railway line in Maryvale. Just across the road from the Crown Hotel an old paddock is still standing. It was used to contain the cattle at the time of the railway line.
The old paddock for cattle is still standing, not far from the Crown Hotel.
Millar Vale Creek Park is located in the northern part of Maryvale town, near the Millar Vale Creek and was established in 1990. It is very spacious, with drop toilets, picnic tables and it has a lovely walk along the creek with informative boards. The park covers an area of 2.1 acres. Apparently it is possible to camp in the park, especially if the area dedicated to camping at the Crown Hotel is at capacity.
Until 1989, the area that is now Millar Vale Creek Park, was dedicated to grazing. It was government land managed locally by a board of trustee. Since 1989, the people of Maryvale have planted trees which are native to the district and have built picnic facilities.
The land that was grazed for many years, gradually got covered with native grasses and other native open plants. In particular, there are Australian bluebells, Wahlenbergia gracilis, a small grassy plant with produces pretty blue flowers with five petals. The flowers were eaten raw by Aboriginal people.
Riceflower, Pimelea liniflolia, is a shrub about 50 cm tall with clumps of white flowers and narrow pointed leaves. The bark of this and related species is strong and was stripped off by Aboriginal people and used for making string.
Manna Gum, Eucalyptus nobilis, is a large gum tree which sheds its bark in long strips hanging from the tree. The relatively soft wood was used by Aboriginal people for making shields and the leaves were smoked over fire for the treatment of fever.
Forest Red Gum, Eucalyptus tereticornis, is a large gum tree with smooth bark. The timber was used by Aboriginal people to make shields.
Sweet bursaria, Bursaria spinosa, is a woody shrub up to 3 m high with small leaves and masses of white flowers in summer. Aboriginal people used the wood to make clubs.
The western side of the park provides spaces for games, picnics and other community activities. The eastern side has more trees and longer grasses which provide habitat for birds and other wildlife.
Alan Cunningham was the first European to explore the Darling Downs areas and lands around Maryvale. He arrived in 1827 after travelling from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. He crossed the Severn River and Dumaresq River between Texas and Boggabilla. He then saw the smoke from the Aboriginal peoples campfires and heard the screeching from flocks of cockatoos and he concluded he was near good country.
Cunningham was on the Herries Range to the west of Warwick and from there he could see across the Condamine and he was delighted with the beauty and the richness of the land.
On his dramatic trip, Cunningham carefully named all the prominent features in the land with European names, such as Mt Dumaresq, Condamine River, Canning Downs, Mt Mitchell, Mt Cordeaux and Millar's Vale.
The Cunningham's party returned south a year later and Cunningham explored Cunningham Gap from Brisbane side to establish a possible route through the mountains.
Allan Cunningham (13 July 1791 – 27 June 1839) was an English botanist and explorer, primarily known for his travels in Australia to collect plants. Photo fromhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Cunningham_%28botanist%29
Indigenous Life Before the European.
About 2000 Aboriginal people lived in the area of Warwick, Dalby and Toowoomba when the first Europeans arrived in 1840. The small number of Indigenous people was one of the justifications that the European used to take the land. The Indigenous people around Maryvale speak the Burdjalung language. They lived in the area most of the time with their own hunting grounds and well known seasonal sources of food. Their lifestyle was bounded by the natural resources and long established knowledge and rules about their use.
The area was rich in wildlife and the Aboriginal knew the plants which provided food and medications. Many plants provided fibres from which they mad bags and hunting nets. Much of the food come from the creek.
Temporary shelters were made with sheets of stringybark tree supported by a few sticks. To get the bark the Indigenous people had to climb up the tall tree using a vine looped around the tree.
Indigenous people used to visit other areas for special occasions such as the corroboree held at Biboo-Biboo, near the today Dugandan Hotel south of Boonah. People from Killarney, Richmond River, Brisbane River, Nanango and Mountains attended the ceremony. Every few years, when the Bunya trees in the Bunya Mountains produced a big crop, they were invited to the Bunya nut gathering. Bora ceremonies were held near Warwick up to 1858.
A 19th-century engraving of an Aboriginal Australian encampment, showing the indigenous lifestyle in the cooler parts of Australia at the time of European settlement. Photo fromhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Indigenous_Australians#/media/File:Native_Encampment_by_Skinner_Prout,_from_Australia_(1876,_vol_II).jpg
When Europeans arrived in the Darling Downs in 1840, the traditional ways of life of the Indigenous people were severely disrupted.
Waterholes were the main sources of water, were muddied by livestock and the settlers actively drove Aboriginal people away.
Kangaroos did not go anymore to the waterholes and that made hunting more difficult. The Indigenous people began to kill sheep and cattle for food, making the settlers to fight with the Indigenous people.
The Darling Downs had a lot of open country, an advantage for the men on horseback who also had rifles to attack the Aboriginal people.
Indigenous Australian Art. Photo fromhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_Australian_art
By 1843 there were very few Aboriginal left in the Darling Downs areas and by 1848 those that were left were taken to work as a labour, stockmen, sheep washers, cattle musterers, nurses, domestic servants and many other types of jobs. For example, an Indigenous person was employed at Maryvale station to track lost sheep. Another Indigenous man washed 50,000 sheep one year in the 1850s at Cunning Downs.
The arrival of European pastoralists had great impacts on the land which was once supported and nurtured by the Aboriginal people. The livestock eat the food that once was available to native animals and damaged the soil by trampling. The traditional use of fire to manage the land was no longer practised. A large number of native animals such as koalas, wallabies and possums were killed for their skins or to stop them to eat the food for the cattle. By the 1850 most of the kangaroos and emus were killed by the settlers.
The Miller Vale Creek delimitating the area of the Miller Vale Park.
Maryvale is not far from the towns of Toowoomba, Allora, Warwick and Stanthorpe in the Darling Downs.
The Main Range National Park offers stunning landscapes and beautiful hikes in the Gondwana Rainforest. There are many private camping areas and national park camping grounds where is possible to pitch the tent or park the van.