Make your es­cape into the clouds

A spec­tac­u­lar wilder­ness awaits at the Bunya Moun­tains

Life & Style Weekend - - TRAVEL - BY Tom Thread­ing­ham PHO­TOS: TOM THREAD­ING­HAM

THE­for and as South vine­yards­far as Bur­nett­the are eye is scat­tered­can home see.to through­outhilly Farm­ing coun­try land, the plains coun­tryre­gion, that and towns­flow are How­ever,of­ten the in ba­sis stark for con­trasta great to week­endthe coun­tryside­trip. most trav­ellers wit­ness,for­est al­soa unique­calls the wilder­ness­re­gion home abun­dan­tand is, with sur­pris­ingly,wildlife and only leafya short Ris­ing drive more from than Kin­garoy.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.

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

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 writer was a guest of South­ern Queens­land Coun­try Tourism.

DE­TAILS: EAT: Elz Bistro in the Dand­abah Vil­lage. STAY: Deshons Re­treat in Kin­garoy, or camp­ing fa­cil­i­ties and cab­ins at Dand­abah Vil­lage. VISIT: Bun­yas gen­eral store and walk­ing trails near Dand­abah Vil­lage.

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