RAY HUMPHRYS LOOKS AT A BUNYA MOUNTAINS HOLIDAY RESORT
How the hard-working Chandler family created a resort in the 1930s
NINETY years ago, tourist brochures were rather quaint when viewed from our modern perspective.
In those days, tourism was new and marketing was a little different. For the Bunya Mountains, tourism was just beginning.
Before 1930, people visiting the mountains camped in a tent or rolled out their swag under a tree.
Wilf Russell had plans for the Bunyas and being the local member of parliament, he soon got things moving.
Before he donated the large piece of mountain top country to become a park, he had a large allotment surveyed off an open spur with a wonderful view over the Downs and on that he got carpenters to erect a large structure.
This building was to become Mowbullan House, the first guest house on the Bunyas.
He installed William Chandler and his family to run the venture.
The Chandlers had been farmers near Burra Burri and were keen to have a change of lifestyle.
It opened about 1930 and although the roads were rather atrocious on the mountain climb, guests soon began arriving.
It was about then the brochure was circulated: Queensland’s Finest Health Resort – The Ideal Place for Convalescents.
“Mowbullan House, overlooking Dalby, is now open for guests. It is situated within 15 minutes easy walk to the top of Mount Mowbullan and has invitingly airy bedrooms, a commodious dining room and a comfortable lounge,” it reads.
On the other side of the page is a colourful wrap-up of the Bunyas.
“Mount Mowbullan, the summit of the beautiful Bunya Mountains (the Himalayas of Australia), gives an unsurpassed view of practically the whole of the Darling Down and Burnett District.”
At the bottom, after a description of the forests and birds, it concludes: “This is the place to gain renewed vigour – the place for a perfect rest. The entire absence of pests, danger and worry make it a little bit of heaven.”
To stay there it cost adults 12/6 per day or three guineas per week.
Today that is about $1.25 per day and a little more than $6 a week.
Children in arms were free and up to four years it was quarter rate and four to 12 years enjoyed half rates.
The brochure added the guest house had all modern conveniences, including bathroom and septic system.
At the bottom was the proud comment: “Mt Mowbullan, Bunya Mountains – one of the most beautiful spots in Queensland.”
The Chandlers arrived with three daughters and one son. They stayed five or six years and most of the daughters found romance at the mountains. They were the pioneers of the hospitality industry on the Bunyas.
TOURISM’S BEGINNINGS: The Mowbullan Guest House was the first attempt to cater for tourists on top of the Bunya Mountains. After 87 years it is still lived in today.