Travelling Australia - Journal 2011
4-19 June 2011 - Bladensburg National Park
Bladensburg National Park is south of Winton. The Visitor Information Centre is 12 kilometres from Winton, about half of that distance on a bitumen road. The national park extends much further to the south but this relative proximity to Winton makes the park reasonably accessible. This proximity does not remove the need for visitors to be properly equipped in a park with poor or non-existent communications, limited water supplies, and variable quality vehicle tracks.

Bladensburg was a grazing property first taken up in 1874 and registered in 1875. In 1984 part of the property (33,700 hectares) infested with heartleaf, a native plant poisonous to stock, was surrendered to become a national park. In 1994 the area was extended to the present 84,900 acres making Bladensburg National Park and stock were gradually removed leaving kangaroos grazing on the extensive grassland. The park is classified as yet to be fully developed.

Bladensburg Homestead Bladensburg Homestead restored as ranger's office and visitor information centre.

The former homestead building has been restored as the visitor information centre and ranger's office. The homestead complex has been set-up as a tourist attraction with some well-presented literature on what each building was used for and some recollections of what life was like when Bladensburg was a working pastoral property.

A ranger's residence has been built near the homestead; separated by several very large green plastic water tanks so the modern house does not interfere with the visual presentation of the homestead complex. Six ranger staff are based at Bladensburg but they also have to look after Diamantina National Park, Combo Waterhole, Lark Quarry Conservation Reserve and Elizabeth Springs so the staff are thinly spread.

Bladensburg Grassland Grassland extending across the northern part of Bladensburg National Park. The fencing is left-over from when the park was a pastoral lease.

Bladensburg lies across the boundary between the Mitchell Grass Plains and the Channel Country and includes a wide variety of land types. Around the homestead are extensive grasslands on black-grey clay; these are now the home of hundreds of kangaroos. Along streamlines and towards the edge of the grassland are patches of gidgee woodland. Grasslands are edged to the south-east by rocky ridges carrying a different set of trees and shrubs dominated by lancewood.

The rocky ridges merge into a rocky mesa where Scrammy Gorge, Scrammy Lookout and Scrammy Waterhole can be reached in a high-clearance 4WD vehicle.
Travelling Australia - Bladensburg National Park - page 2
The Parks and Wildlife Service produces a leaflet describing the track to Scrammy Lookout; 4WD vehicles can reach the Gorge and the Waterhole but many visitors choose to walk the last 900 metres to the Lookout instead of negotiating a rough rocky creek crossing in their vehicles.

Scrammy Gorge At Scrammy Gorge the rock profile of the mesa is exposed. The hard capping rock forming the top layer protects softer underlying rock from erosion ensuring the mesa remains elevated above the surrounding country.

A visitor driving slowly along vehicular tracks in this part of the park can enjoy other habitats but vehicle tracks do not reach all parts and some walking is needed to fully appreciate the variety. The park would be improved if short walking tracks were available to reach some of the more scenic parts not presently reached by vehicle tracks.

Spinifex Spinifex and ghost gum woodland on a plateau not accessible by motor vehicle.

The Route of the River Gum is a tourist route running mostly through Bladensburg but separate from the road to the Information Centre or to Scrammy; the Route of the River Gum is suitable for conventional vehicles in dry weather but some parts have to be taken slowly. The Tourist Information Centre provides an explanatory leaflet pointing out items of interest. Travellers on this route can visit waterholes at Engine Hole, Skull Hole and Bough Shed Hole; each waterhole is different. Camping is available at Bough Shed Hole but fresh water is not available there.
Skull Hole waterhole The larger waterhole at Skull Hole on the Route of the River Gum.

Travelling Australia - Bladensburg National Park - page 3
From Bough Shed Hole the traveller crosses Surprise Creek at Top Crossing on a bare rock ford before leaving the park proper and passing through adjacent private property where bloodwoods dotted over open grassland provide another scenic vista.

The road from Winton to Opalton provides access to the western part of Bladensburg made of far rougher country with exposed residual rocky ridges and sandy tableland. Logan's Falls is reached along a 4WD track off the Opalton road.

Red Kangaroos Red Kangaroos interrupted while grazing. The large male standing erect on the left is particularly watchful.

Brolgas Part of a Brolga family group. The adult, on the left, has red on the back of its head; the juvenile lacks this red patch. The other adult in the family is to the right of the photograph.