Pioneer Park is a reserve on the south side of the Mary River in Tinana of Maryborough. It is one of two brown signs leading to two different entrances of the reserve.
The other brown sign is off Serenity Drive and heads into a more rugged bushland trail into the reserve. You can walk between the two, depending on what type of walk you want to do.
The Pioneer Park doesn’t officially have path or walk names but there are different parts that can be described. I refer to them as the River Walk, Creek Walk, Serenity Drive Bush Trail, Walk to Schultz Park, and the Sunrise Drive Entry.
Sunrise Drive Entry to Pioneer Park
This brown sign’s location starts at the end of Sunrise Drive, which takes you roughly into the middle of the reserve. The path initially follows along a green grass area with a couple of signs at the entry. One shows a map of where the paths are in the reserve, another about Koala’s and their habitats under threat.
With dwindling habitats for Koalas, reserves like the Pioneer Park in Maryborough are important for the conservation of koalas. Ensuring the species of gum trees they can eat are preserved and planted to restore tree numbers are a part of helping the koala population.
The path follows along the side of the green area. It is quite open and you can easily choose to follow the path or walk across the reserve as there is no where to get lost here. The path leads to another path running through the main part of Pioneer Park.
At the end of the path you can either turn right to head to Schultz Park, or left to the other three walks. Interestingly, there is a post with three colours painted on it, green, red, and black. I’m unsure of the significance of the colours or if they are a relic of an old walks coding of some kind. I did find posts along the way.
When I come to a choice of directions, I normally go left or clockwise (whichever is appropriate for the junction where I am). This led me first to the River Walk.
The path heads north-east towards the Mary River with the main path continuing to the River Walk. After crossing a bridge over the creek, the junction of the Creek Walk and Bush Trail are on the right. They are not as clearly marked, as they are not paved like the River Walk is.
Staying left to continue on the River Walk, another bridge is reached. It looks no different to other bridges immediately, a concrete slab and steel railings. A closer look reveals a small plaque on a stone on the other side of the bridge.
It mentions of John Carne Bidwill who took up his position as commissioner in the Wide Bay District in 1848. The Village of Wide Bay was on the norther bank of the river but Bidwill chose to live on the south side near Tinana Creek.
After his death in 1853, his successor lived in the same hut. The original road from the village to John Carne Bidwill’s house passed through where Pioneer Park is located and the remains of this old bridge are likely to have been part of the 1850s road.
Looking below the more modern concrete slab on top is an older stone construction. Whether it is this that the plaque refers to or not I am unsure. It was an unexpected find in a park that didn’t give any other information why it has been named “Pioneer Park”.
I found a post with a green top along here. It isn’t right at the path and I could have easily dismissed it. This may have designated either a location or direction for a path to the river.
After the bridge, the trees thin out to an open grass hill with the path running along the side with a couple of bench seats. As you walk up the hill, the Mary River comes into view and the path turns to walk westward on the southern bank.
Trees once again enclose along the path as it follows the river. The path continues all the way to the bridge for one of the entrances which could be used if walking from Maryborough over the Lamington Bridge.
I turned around and headed back to the other walks.
Pioneer Park’s different walks don’t have names as such, they are the names I have given them to differentiate them. The main characteristic of this one is it follows along a creek.
The start of the walk isn’t clearly marked but there is a post with a red top that gives some indication of where it is. Unlike the green topped post, this post is clearly viewable from the main path. Head to the post and the creek walk will reveal itself more clearly.
The trail is a narrow dirt track that follows the contours of the ground. The ground may not be clear of obstacles so take care of your footing for roots and other things that may be a trip hazard.
The trail eventually leads to an area that is open and appears to have been a revegetation project at some time. Some trees have taken hold while others only have stakes where a tree was planted.
From the map shown at the Sunrise Drive entrance, this may be where the walk is meant to end. There is a vehicle track that continues on, asking for further exploration.
The track comes out to a track that appears to be a property boundary of a sugar cane farm. It is here I found the most interesting parts of this walk.
Across from the boundary is a narrow grass field between cane fields with a large tree in the centre. Under there tree is a pile of rusting steel, decade beyond recognition of what it once was. It isn’t anything in particular, as least not obviously. But I wondered why this tract of land was divided from the cane fields and admired the stark contrast of the tree in the otherwise bareness.
More curiously, where the track comes out is something that begs more of a question. Was the walk once more extensive and was this previously a more public thoroughfare? On the fence line is a turnstile.
Other than a post either side of the turnstile, there is nothing of the fence remaining. The track doesn’t line up with it anymore, sitting to the side of it. It does seem that it was once more frequently used.
Returning back to where the Creek Walk begins, the Bush Trail starts at the same spot but a little more to the right heading uphill.
The bush trail starts less enclosed than the creek walk and remains more open for the most part. I say for the most part because there are two different paths, the other one is not easily seen on this direction.
The map shown at the Sunrise Drive entrance shows the two paths but unless you know where to look for it, you will walk right passed it without noticing. I was looking for it and still walked passed without noticing.
At the top of climb up the trail, it goes along a property before leading out to Serenity Drive. Walking all the way out to the road you will see the other brown sign for Pioneer Park.
On the way up there is a dip down a little gully that is easy to avoid by using the driveway. On the way back it is best to walk into the gully. It is from the gully you will find fork in the trail to the other path.
Narrower and more overgrown, it is clearly less used than the main path. There were logs to step over, growth across the trail, and the end completely covered explaining why it was hard to spot on the way up. While not unique to this trail, I had to keep an eye out for spiky vines with rather painful looking thorns.
Coming to the exit to return to the main bush trail, it became clearer as to where you could enter on the way up. It is then a short walk down the last bit of hill to come back onto the main path. Turn left and it takes you back to where the Sunrise Drive path joins.
Schultz Park is a different location but is a continuation of the walking and cycling way that starts from the bridge at the other end of the River Walk.
It starts by crossing a bridge in the other direction and follows along the creek. There isn’t much to look at specifically along the way but Schultz Park has been made part of the Fraser Coast Military Trail.
The path to Schultz Park makes a good cycleway loop, heading back to the bridge and entering the River Walk at Mary River. Schultz Park makes for a good base as well, with toilets, BBQs and playground, where the Sunrise Drive entry point has no facilities.
I enjoyed visiting Pioneer Park and discovering the trails and nature along them. The surprise historical finds and curious items to discover were a bonus as well. Sunrise Drive is a good spot to centrally visit the different parts of Pioneer Park, however, Schultz Park is a better base to explore from if you want to do more than walk or cycle.
To Get There
From Maryborough Visitor Information Centre, head north-west on Kent St and turn left into Ferry St. Follow Ferry St for 2km to the bridge over Mary River. After crossing the bridge, take the first left into McGregor St with the brown sign to Pioneer Park, then the first left again into Sunrise Dr. Follow Sunrise Dr for 300m to the end to reach the entry into Pioneer Park.