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Bunya Mountains Bushwalking Trip

Home > Brisbane > Animals and Wildlife | Environment | National Parks | Outdoor | Walks
by Roz Glazebrook (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published October 21st 2018
Interesting history of Bunya Mountains
I always wanted to visit the Bunya Mountains. I had heard how beautiful it was and how lots of Aboriginal tribes used to go there to feast on Bunya nuts.

Bunya Pine Tree and Wallabies
Bunya Pine Tree and Wallabies


I finally got the opportunity to go for a weekend recently with my bushwalking club. Even though it rained most of the weekend, the area was as beautiful and interesting as I had imagined.

Heading to Cunjevoi Falls
Heading to Cunjevoi Falls


Bunya Mountains National Park was declared in 1908. It is Queensland's second oldest national park. The whole area has lovely mountain scenery and views. Unfortunately, we didn't see a lot of the views because of the heavy mist and rain, so I will have to go back. I did enjoy walking in the rain though, and the mist and rain gave the mountains a special atmosphere. The area has the largest natural Bunya pine forests in the world.

Carpet of Bunya Pine fronds
Carpet of Bunya Pine fronds


Bunya Mountains National Park is about 200km north-west of Brisbane and 125km northwest of Toowoomba. All access roads to the Bunya Mountains are steep, winding and narrow and not suitable for long and/or heavy vehicles. We drove up through Kilcoy and home via Fernvale.

Wallaby and joey
Wallaby and joey


Thirteen of us stayed at the Mai Chalet at Dandabah. The large house had three double bedrooms and a large bunkroom containing lots of double bunks. It also had a large sitting room with a fireplace, outdoor tables and a barbecue.

Orange rainforest fungi
Orange rainforest fungi


If you ever have visitors from overseas and they want to see a kangaroo, take them out to Bunya Mountains. There were hundreds of wallabies sitting around in the grounds. A lot of the animals had joeys and it was lovely watching the young ones tentatively hopping out of their pouch for a short time, then jumping back in and poking their little faces out. Some looked a bit miserable sitting out in the rain and others sheltered under trees or under the verandah of some of the other chalets.



We saw lots of colourful King Parrots flying around and heaps of other birds, including a Rufous fantail, Crimson rosellas, kookaburras and brush turkeys.

Australian King Parrot
Australian King Parrot


Bunya pine trees produce bumper nut crops about every three years. Local Aboriginal tribes used to invite neighbouring groups to join them for the Bunya Festival when they feasted on bunya nuts. As we walked among the huge Bunya Pine trees, we saw the remains of notches in the trees where Aboriginals climbed up using hand and foot holds to get the nuts.

Bunya Pine with foot and hand holds
Bunya Pine with foot and hand holds


Waterfall
Waterfall


The area was heavily logged in the 1800s. In the 1860s, Joseph Carbine established the first sawpit in the foothills. To get logs off the mountain, he built an earthen chute running almost vertically down to his sawpit. Eventually, there were fourteen chutes on the mountain. On our walk, we saw where Chute number three used to be.

Top Chute No 3 Sign
Top Chute No 3 Sign


I didn't get too close to the edge but could imagine the trees hurling down the mountain. I read they often arrived at the bottom splintered and damaged.

Red Cedar, Bunya and Hoop pines were logged extensively after the Great Bunya Sawmill opened in 1883. The area was logged until the mid-1940s.

Red Cedar Tree
Red Cedar Tree


In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, Bunya Mountains was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as a "Natural attraction".

The two tallest mountains on the range, Mount Kiangarow and Mount Mowbullan are over 1,100 m.

We explored the area around Dandabah where we saw a sculpture of a large hand. The hand was designed and sculpted at Gatton by Ironic Art in June 2008. The buttress root base is a reminder of bygone logging days while fungi and vines represent nature reclaiming the forest. The hand reaching to the heavens demonstrates the eternal struggle within the rainforest to reach the life-giving sunlight above the canopy. It also symbolises humans caring for the Bunya Mountains.

Hand Sculpture
Hand Sculpture


On Saturday, we planned to walk from Burtons Well to Paradise. This walk takes in the western side of the park and is just over 15 kms. It would have involved a car shuffle. The walk follows the cliff-line on the mountains' western side commencing with an ascent of Mt Kiangarow, which is the highest Point of the Bunya Mountains.

Because of heavy rain, we changed plans. We waited a couple of hours hoping the rain would ease, then drove to Fisher's Lookout where we parked the cars. From there, we walked some of Russell Park Walking Tracks. We walked to Cunjevoi Falls and visited Top Chute No 3 and Little Mowbullan. The walk from Fishers Lookout to Cunjevoi Falls was fairly steep down through the rainforest. It was wet and slippery in some rocky areas but very beautiful. I think we only walked about six or seven kilometres on Saturday, but there were some challenging hills to climb, so we felt we had a good walk and saw some really interesting areas.



After the walk when we got back to our house, we had a warm shower, got into dry clothes, then spent the rest of the day relaxing by the fire. Some people read books and others played games. I had fun learning to play UNO.

On Sunday we walked about 10 kilometres on the Barkers Creek Circuit Track which is part of the Eastern Rainforest Circuits. We walked through the rainforest to waterfalls and lookouts and visited Paradise Falls, Little Falls, Big Falls lookout, Barker Creek Lookout and Tim Shae Falls.

Hollow tree
Hollow tree


The track was covered with Bunya Pine fronds. There were lots of Bunya Pine Trees and I saw a couple of Red Cedar trees. I also saw my first Python Tree (Gossia Bidwillii Myrtacae family). The Python Tree is an extremely slow growing tree, which got its name because its smooth blotched bark looks like the pattern of a python's skin. Mallet handles were made from wood from these trees.

Python Tree
Python Tree


After our walk, we packed up and had lunch at Poppies café before heading home. If you ever get the chance, go for a visit. You won't regret it. It is an outstanding place.

There are over 40km of walking tracks at the Bunya Mountains (in the National Park and Russell Park) ranging from short to long walks, so there is a track to suit everyone.

Information on walking tracks

Into the Mist
Into the Mist


If you don't feel like walking, it is still a lovely place to relax in a beautiful, peaceful environment.

More information here


Rocks and Water
Rocks and Water
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Why? Magical Place to visit
When: Anytime
Where: Bunya Mountains in SE Queensland
Cost: Camping or accommodation costs. Free to walk tracks
Your Comment
Congratulations winning second place.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12075) 2 days ago
Absolutely stunning, such a peaceful part of this country. For luxury romantic accommodation at the 'gateway' to the Bunya Mountains, I can highly recommend - Dreambirdcottage.com.au
by punky (score: 1|10) 19 days ago
Lovely article Roz.
by May Cross (score: 3|3249) 19 days ago
Great article.
by Irenke Forsyth (score: 3|1651) 11 days ago
Sounds wonderful weekend Roz. Too wet for me though! I like staying dry in the bush!
by hdona (score: 2|177) 22 days ago
Great article, it's a beautiful part of the world.
by Amanda I (score: 2|305) 22 days ago
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