With the summer heat behind us and all that boating and swimming done a change of scene from the beach life is in order. Trade your sea change for a tree change for a few days and think about a stay at an alpine cabin at the Bunya Mountains in the coming cooler months.
The Bunya Mountains are a three hour drive from Bribie through the picturesque towns of Kilcoy, Yarraman and Nanango. Up the Blackbutt Range the air seems cooler already and then you turn up the Kingaroy-Cooyar Road to climb to an elevation of 975M above sea level, arriving at the Bunya Mountains.
The Bunya Mountains is a spectacular wilderness range forming an isolated section of the Great Dividing Range. The immense subtropical range of cool, green rainforest, eucalypt forests and woodlands is home to the world’s largest forest of bunya pines. Dome shaped bunya pines graciously raise their majestic heads above the forest canopy crowning a magnificent green splendour. High altitude grasslands include rare grasses of international interest.
The Bunya Mountains include Mount Mowbullan and Mount Kiangarow and features panoramic mountain scenery and breathtaking views over the South Burnett region and Darling Downs plains. Because of its height, it is generally at least 5 – 10C cooler than the surrounding plains all year round.
The Bunya Mountains Accommodation Centre manages all 104 cabins along the ridge line and down the side of the mountain overlooking the floodplain. Bookings can be made at bunyamountains.com.au. I would recommend the Alpine Cabin with two bedrooms, fireplace, large veranda, pool table and entertaining area. All firewood is provided but remember to bring some little lucifers to get it going or buy some from the excellent general store near the accommodation centre. There is a café come restaurant and pub nearby as well with a good variety of food and beverages.
Wallabies mooch around your cabin below your veranda and by the time afternoon drinkies are out the birds join you at the dizzying heights of your cabin. Cockatoos’, Rosellas and King Parrots will eat out of your hand if you can spare a few crackers from your plate of nibbles or the store sells bird seed. The sunset provides amazing shades of purple and views to the sea go on forever before its time to get the fire going.
Next morning it’s time to head out on your 10km round bushwalk to Big Falls Lookout, Paradise Falls and Barker Creek Lookout. The entrance to the walking track is near the accommodation centre and shop on Bunya Mountains Road.
The Bunya Mountains National Park (declared in 1908) is Queensland’s second oldest national park. It shelters the world’s largest stand of ancient bunya pines Araucaria bidwillii and more than 30 rare and threatened species.
The bunya pines tower over tall, moist rainforest along the range crest, while hoop pines dominate dry rainforest on lower slopes. Subtropical rainforest, once the most widespread rainforest community in Queensland, grows along the range crest and upper parts of the eastern side of the mountains. Semi-evergreen vine thickets and at least seven other types of dry rainforest grow on the lower or western slopes. The park's forests shelter rare and threatened plants including orchids and small herbs. Natural grassland containing rare grass species are scattered across the mountains. The national park also protects open eucalypt forests, woodlands, brigalow scrub and the largest protected areas of vine thickets dominated by bottle trees in Australia.
The park is home to about 120 species of birds and many species of mammals, frogs and reptiles. Several rare and threatened animals live here including sooty owls, powerful owls, the black-breasted button quail, a skink species and a number of mammals.
Long revered by generations of Aboriginal people—travelling long distances every few years for feasts and celebrations coinciding with mass crops of bunya 'nuts'—the Bunya Mountains are for all a worthy destination. Picnic and camping areas and more than 35km of walking tracks make it a wonderful place at which to escape the heat, or the hustle and bustle of modern life.
So check the back of your wardrobe for your favourite old jumper, select your best red wine and pack some matches for a trip to the country that will be the tree change you have been searching for today.