Make your es­cape into the clouds

A spec­tac­u­lar wilder­ness awaits at the Bunya Moun­tains

Central and North Burnett Times - - TRAVEL - BY Tom Thread­ing­ham

THE South Bur­nett is home to hilly coun­try plains that flow for as far as the eye can see. Farm­ing land, coun­try towns and vine­yards are scat­tered through­out the re­gion, and are of­ten the ba­sis for a great week­end trip.

How­ever, in stark con­trast to the coun­try­side most travellers wit­ness, a unique wilder­ness abun­dant with wildlife and leafy for­est also calls the re­gion home and is, sur­pris­ingly, only a short drive from Kingaroy.

Ris­ing more than 1000 me­tres up into the crisp clean sky of the South Bur­nett is the Bunya Moun­tains.

Sit­u­ated 150km from the coast, and less than an hour’s drive from the heart of Kingaroy, the Bunya Moun­tains is a must-see for any vis­i­tor to the re­gion.

As I dis­cov­ered, it doesn’t take long for travellers like my­self to be trans­ported into an­other world on the jour­ney from Kingaroy.

The grassy fields, prime agri­cul­tural land and coun­try com­mu­ni­ties which nor­mally line the road­side are quickly left be­hind as your car rises into the hills and is en­veloped in thick forestry.

Although it seems like a se­cluded par­adise, the Bunya Moun­tains is home to a vi­brant com­mu­nity which thrives on tourism.

Pulling into Dand­abah Vil­lage you find gated hous­ing es­tates, cof­fee shops, a res­tau­rant, camp­ing fa­cil­i­ties and pri­vate cab­ins for rent.

All of this is en­cased by a sub­trop­i­cal wilder­ness that is home to the world’s largest stand of an­cient bunya pines which peek through the rain­for­est canopy.

It’s not just an amaz­ing sight but an in­ter­ac­tive world of ad­ven­ture suited to any trav­eller’s fit­ness lev­els.

Nu­mer­ous walk­ing trails dis­ap­pear into the for­est to give vis­i­tors a truly amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Keen to ex­plore, I, like dozens of other ea­ger travellers on the day, threw on the jog­gers and en­tered one of the many trails on of­fer.

Signs pop up along the track pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion about the plants and an­i­mals that call the for­est home as well as the di­verse in­dige­nous his­tory.

My trail took me along a bub­bling creek deep into the for­est and down to the Festoon Falls.

It’s only a short walk, but one which is an eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

While most trails wind in and out of the thick rain­for­est, some in­clude great van­tage points from which to en­joy amaz­ing views of the South Bur­nett and south­ern plains.

When you leave the rain­for­est, cof­fee, mer­chan­dise and great food are on of­fer.

Me­tres from the walk­ing trails sits Elz Bistro, a bustling res­tau­rant of­fer­ing great cof­fee and hot meals.

It’s ve­randa-style set­ting gives you the choice of sit­ting in the fresh air over­look­ing the for­est or nestling next to a crack­ling fire in­doors.

The menu of­fers a bit of ev­ery­thing for the fam­ished, but the Bunya Burger washed down with a Bunya ale is a great choice to sat­isfy the taste­buds.

De­pend­ing on the sea­son, bunya nuts can be pur­chased or tasted too. If the rain­for­est jour­neys and great food aren’t enough, there are also horse and carriage rides and even wild bird feed­ing at The Bun­yas gen­eral store to en­joy.

Dand­abah Vil­lage is only one stop-off for keen hik­ers. Plenty of other trails and parks are a short drive away.

It is im­por­tant to bring warm clothes as the crisp air will bring home to you what a win­ter’s day can re­ally feel like.

Whether you are an avid hiker, look­ing for some­where to hol­i­day or some­where to sim­ply es­cape for the day, the Bunya Moun­tains cer­tainly of­fers some­thing for ev­ery­one.

◗ The Festoon Falls walk­ing trail at Dand­abah in the Bunya Moun­tains and, top right, the Bunya Moun­tains sculp­ture at Dand­abah, in­stalled in 2008, marks 100 years of na­tional parks in Queens­land and, bot­tom right, at Dand­abah.

PHO­TOS: TOM THREAD­ING­HAM

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