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Mt Barney Wilderness Retreat

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by Jacqui Schneider (subscribe)
I'm a QBI (Queenslander born interstate) and like to write about things that inspire me in my adopted hometown. Living by choice in the inner southside of Brisbane.
Published April 3rd 2013
I have just returned from the most relaxing, yet invigorating and thoroughly enjoyable Easter weekend on Mt Barney at the newly opened Mt Barney Retreat, a place that is definitely good for the soul, and I'm inspired to let everyone in on the secret.

Just a short drive past picturesque Boonah, a little over an hour's drive southwest of Brisbane, and you are at the launching pad for the four wheel drive climb up to Mt Barney in the fantastic Scenic Rim country.

Driving along these roads is a delight in itself, with brilliant views appearing as we drove along the Ipswich–Boonah Road – coming over a rise you are confronted with the panorama of the magnificent Border Ranges rising from the plains.

Both the drive into, as well as past Boonah along the Boonah Rathdowney Road to the homestead where Ben from Mt Barney Retreat met us is incredibly scenic. Looking up at the ridges and peaks to Mt Barney and surrounds, it's a delight to ponder which peak you'll be staying at.

Our group arrived in a number of cars, none with four wheel drive vehicles, so we left our cars here and all the luggage and some of the passengers were loaded into Ben's trusty Land Rover and trailer while a lucky few of us got to walk some of the way along the road, alongside the meandering creek and past beautiful camping spots until we were met by Ben on his second trip back to collect us.

As we climbed up the challenging track in Ben's Land Rover he pointed out where we were going and told us some interesting snippets about the area, such as one of the rare spots in Australia where the Gondwana relic of remnant Antarctic Beech forest occurs, that can be accessed from the retreat on a guided day walk.

The central retreat itself consists of a large cleared area with buildings dotted around.

The main building contains a well-equipped central kitchen, a dining area with a massive timber table, a lounge area with comfy chairs and a pot bellied stove, and a big covered outdoor fireplace that Ben likes to keep well lit.

The kids loved this and spent most of their time around the outdoor fire. The adults loved sitting indoors around the pot-bellied stove after a group meal at the huge dining table, and a day spent bushwalking.

There are three cabins for guests, all well spaced out and very well set up in a dorm style sleeping about six to eight people on very comfortable beds. The bathroom amenities are really good, plentiful hot water for showers and even a separate loo with a view!

The views from the cabins are lovely and I slept like a log.

We spent a day walking into Mt Barney National Park and on a well marked track down to the river and along it to a series of waterholes called Upper Portals.

Here on the track we came across a tree python that was digesting its recent meal of small animal.

The birdlife is fantastic and we spotted King Parrots as well as the beautiful Glossy Black Cockatoos. A swim in this pristine river was a real treat and we spent some time basking on the large flat rocks before the walk back up to the Retreat.

While some of us made it back on foot, Ben had very kindly already set out in his Land Rover to pick up the stragglers, especially those with shorter legs who might be tiring on the home stretch.

The next day it poured – well, it was Easter, after all. Some intrepid souls decided on a bushwalk despite the weather, while yours truly became very good friends with the pot-bellied stove and thanks to Ben, who supplied heaps of wood offcuts to keep it going, we spent a luxurious day sitting around the warm stove, reading, chatting and slowly preparing a grand dinner we cooked in the huge camp oven that was provided by our obliging host. It seems they have everything here.

Mt Barney Retreat is such a treasure of a place, and very easily accessible from Brisbane, Ipswich and the Gold Coast. Ben's rates are extremely reasonable indeed. He and his offsider, Max, are very obliging and have some amusing tales of how it's taken Ben ten years to jump through all the Council hoops to finally get approval to operate the Retreat. Definitely a labour of love, that one!

The whole experience was so restful and yet refreshing, I know I will be returning to do the guided walk to the Antarctic Beech forest on the ridge behind Mt Barney and spend another weekend, enjoying those views and breathing the fine mountain air up there where all's still right with the world!

For more information, check out the website here.
Ben can be contacted on 0408 709 341 or by email at
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Where: Waterfall Creek Rd, Maroon QLD 4310
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