The Natural Resources of Maranoa

Maranoa Regional Council

The term ‘Coal Seam Gas’ or Coal Bed Methane is given to any naturally occurring gas that gets trapped in underground coal seams by either water or ground pressure. The most common form of this natural gas is called methane (CH4) and is actually the most abundant organic compound found on earth. This gas is highly flammable and burns very hot compared to most other gases because it is the simplest hydrocarbon. In a nutshell, this makes it very important for electrical generation; it burns hotter, meaning that less is needed, therefore less carbon dioxide is emitted overall – about 50 per cent less than coal. It can even be piped directly into homes for use as a cooking and heating fuel.

The gas fills any seams between the coal – called cleats – as well as the inner pores of the coal itself, known as the matrix. These seams typically store both gas and water. The overlying rock material causes the water to be under pressure and this holds the gas further into place. The gas can then be extracted by digging a well into the coal seam, releasing the water along with the methane. The two substances are separated on their way to the surface and the water is piped elsewhere for treatment while the gas is collected to be piped to a nearby processing plant where it is simply dehydrated, compressed and then released into commercial pipelines.

The Maranoa Region of Australia, situated about 480 kilometres west of Brisbane in South West Queensland, is referred to by www.visitmaranoa.com.au as the original birthplace of Australia’s Oil and Gas industry. The town of Roma has been in a state of steady growth because of the increasing demand for these natural assets. In fact, the gas was first discovered in 1900 by hospital hill, and was actually the first gas of its kind to be discovered within Australia. It was later used to light street lights within the town, while further uses were explored. Currently, the Maranoa region is the scene of massive expansion in both coal seam gas exploration and mining.

This region is not only known for its roots in gas extraction; at any given moment there are anywhere from 1 to 2 million cattle roaming there. That number represents a whopping 13 per cent of all the cattle in Queensland. In fact, the Maranoa region raises and sells more cattle than anywhere else in the southern hemisphere.

Roma is located at the junction of the Warrego Highway and the Great Inland Way, and serves as the primary service centre for a good part of Queensland South. This town is the envy of many major centres because of its relaxed country lifestyle. At the same time, it offers a broad range of professional services and retail businesses. Roma also boasts a fantastic winery, established in 1863, that is open to all visitors who want to pass by and have a taste. This little town is also well known for preserving many of its impressive heritage buildings, including the Roma Court House, which opened in 1901. The original court house actually opened in 1873 for a single trial that involved 1,000 cattle that went missing and were found to have been stolen by a man named Harry Redford. This local tale has been immortalised in a novel entitled, ‘Robbery Under Arms,’ and anyone who visits the area can also see the story unfold in a theatre presentation entitled, ‘The Ghost of Harry Redford.’

Injune is said to be the perfect base for anyone who wants to explore the natural wonders of the area. It is virtually hidden in the bushlands, located approximately 89 kilometres north of Roma and perfectly positioned for the ‘back to nature’ outing. This little beauty is surrounded by some of Queensland’s best national parks including Nuga Nuga, Carnarvon, Lonesome and Beilba. It is also home to some of inland Queensland’s most diverse flora, owing to its varied landscapes and a mix of sedimentary and volcanic rock that results in a rich mixture of beautiful plant habitats. This rich array of plant life also provides a home for a diverse array of fauna which have made their home within this unique environment. With its vast natural pastures and resources, Injune is also home to many outback developments, from old time dairy farms to intensive modern farming and gas fields. It is well known for its role in the timber, cattle and natural gas industries and has always been a town with a very rich heritage.

The town of Mitchell is located on the banks of the Maranoa River, 87 kilometres west of Roma on the Warrengo Highway. It is known as the gateway to Queensland’s outback and it services other nearby communities including Amby, Muckadilla and Mungallala. Located within Mitchell are the thermal mineralised waters of the Great Artesian Spa – relaxing for both body and soul. Mitchell is also home to some spectacular panoramic scenery; visitors can enjoy beautiful vistas and view the magnificent sandstone formations at many sites throughout the area such as Mt Moffatt National Park and Claravale Wilderness Experience. Wilderness nuts will not be disappointed when they lay their eyes on the 250-some species of bird that live there.

78 kilometres south of Roma on the Great Inland Way, Surat can be found along the Carnarvon Highway. Here you will find the picture perfect township, steeped in history with links to Cobb & Co and the ‘boom’ time of the wool growing industry. Surat is the place to go for those who want to reconnect with the pioneers of the past. Stop by and take a look at the Cobb & Co Store and drop-off point for coach travellers and goods. This area now houses a museum with regularly changing displays that depict the lives of yesteryear. Surat is also said to be a fisherman’s paradise, with the Balonne River right on its doorstep, which also just happens to be a great place for birdwatchers or anyone who would like to enjoy the water. Visitors can also discover the Villacoola Winery with over 12 acres of vines. It offers group and private tastings of fine wine, gourmet foods and homemade cakes and coffee.

Yuleba is another beautiful nature-filled town, located 60 kilometres east of Roma. It is a well equipped town that happens to be the service centre for the smaller community of Jackson and other rural sectors. Visitors here can go back in time and ride the last horse drawn Cobb & Co coach from Yuleba to Surat. Relive this bygone era by viewing sites of local significance such as the Cobb & Co Mural, Aboriginal native wells and the Cobb & Co corduroys which are a fine example of civil construction techniques of years past. For any nature lover, the lovely scenic Judd’s Lagoon is just five kilometres south of Yuleba, and offers a magnificent view of local flora and fauna. This lagoon makes a great backdrop for visitors who are wishing to set up camp and stay to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

From Roma, take a drive down the Warrengo Highway for about 40 kilometres and discover the charming township of Wallumbilla. The residents of this dedicated welcoming community make it their duty to enhance their town’s unique natural appeal. Experience the Calico Cottage where visitors can enjoy some good old fashioned country hospitality. Find a delicious mélange of home baked country treats and local crafts. Head out into the town and feast your eyes and your mind on some interesting displays of local heritage at the Wallumbilla Heritage Centre and Wallumbilla Railway Station. Each location houses a unique and interesting display of artefacts and photographs. While initially Wallumbilla presents as a quaint country town, a strong level of industry and activity actually underpins this energetic and proactive community. With its retail and rural supply services, commercial premises, hotel, arts and cultural activities, educational facilities, and sport and recreation activities, Wallumbilla offers residents and visitors all the necessary conveniences.

For more information of the Maranoa Region, please visit http://www.maranoa.qld.gov.au.

Strategic Resources

There are 17 classified rare earth elements, many of which have strategic purposes. Rare in name only, these elements are anything but scarce as they are found all over the world. The challenge rare earth elements pose is during extraction, as they exist in low concentrations and are difficult to separate from one another.

December 15, 2019, 2:52 PM AEDT

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