You know, in all the time I’ve lived in Brisbane , I’ve never been out to the Bunya Mountains.
That was until a couple of weeks ago when The Handyman took me on a “short ride” (his words) out to Nanango and the Dandabah Camping and Picnic Area.
Most of the road out and back is pretty straight and it’s not until you pass through Moore on the D’Aquilar Highway that the road gets interesting. Then it settles down again and is pretty easy-going for a while longer, until you get to Kingaroy
At Kingaroy you turn left on the Bunya Highway and follow that for a while until you come to The Bunya Mountains Road just past Kumbia township.
Follow the Bunya Mountains Road for about 30km (18 miles) until you come to a turn off on your left that leads to the Dandabah Camping and Picnic Area.
The roads from Kumbia through the national park are mainly sealed but are very narrow, so it’s not a place to test you skill. There are too many blind corners and the chance of cars coming the opposite way is too great.
You WILL have to move over, as will they.
The park is known for its wildlife, which is everywhere throughout the area, and you need to be aware of Wallabies and Kangaroos lining the roads and generally lounging around where ever they see fit.
If you’re into bush walking, there’s a network of walking tracks which lead to permanent waterfalls, great views and other picnic and camping areas.
The walking tracks range in distance from 500m (0.3 miles) up to 12km (7 miles) return and range from an easy stroll to something more challenging.
What, you didn’t bring a picnic lunch?
No worries, there are a couple of coffee shops nearby where you can get sandwiches, meat pies and soft drinks to fill the hole under your nose.
If you’re too tired to head home but forgot your swag, there’s even some hard bed accommodation available if you want to stay for the night.
The Bunya Mountains is rich with history and during the 1840’s, the area was home to sheep and cattle graziers.
It remained like this for about 20 years, until in the 1860’s when timber getters were attracted to the Red Cedar and Bunya Pines in the area.
Within a relatively short time, there were 14 earthen chutes operating which saw huge logs plummeted almost vertically down to the saw-pits in the foothills of the logging area. By 1923 a tramway system was constructed and used to transport the logs to Wegenville, some 15 km (9 miles) away.
Even though the area was proclaimed a national park in 1908, logging continued until about 1917 and the tramway remained operational until 1930.
The last saw mill on the mountain closed in 1945
So what is a Bunya Pine?
A Bunya Pine is a large evergreen coniferous tree that can grow to a height of between 30–45m (100 – 150 feet).
The tree produces edible kernels (nuts) at two to seven-year intervals which range in size from 20–35 cm (7.9–13.8 in) in diameter. Even though referred to as a pine, the tree is more closely related to the monkey puzzle tree.
The Bunya Pine holds significant cultural and spiritual connections for the traditional owners of the surrounding land and to this day there is a Bunya Festival.
The festival was at one time Australia’s largest indigenous event and Aboriginal elders would send out messengers to invite people from hundreds of kilometres away to celebrate and feast on the Bunya nut.
Sometimes the festivals had up to a thousand people or more in attendance. These people would come and stay for months at a time, taking part in ceremonies, trade exchange, discussions and negotiations over marriage and regional issues.
There was no festival when we visited but we did spend a couple of hours at the Dandabah Picnic Area taking in the surroundings.
A couple of hours is nowhere near enough time to take in all that was on offer, in fact, we discussed coming up for a weekend some day and having a good look around.
In all, the “short ride” The Handyman took us on was just shy of 500km (310 miles) and although the roads are not windy like you would expect in mountainous areas, the views and scenery were second to none.
Maybe this can be one of my “Me Time” getaways?
I could think of worse places to visit.
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