COOL BUNYA MOUNTAINS
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
325Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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Bunya Mountains National Park $5pppn
via Beerwah, Kingaroy etc
Following yesterday's lead of getting lost, we headed off to Bunya Mountains via Kingaroy in the wrong direction, but we discovered that we were led to this unintended destination for a good reason: a public weigh bridge station to check the van’s total weight was located at the point we were able to turn around and get back onto the highway in the opposite direction. We had been meaning to go to a weigh bridge for more than a month and here we were a day away from needing this information, "lost" at “Sunridge Stockfeeds Weighbridge” near Yandina on the Sunshine Coast. We now know that our Total weight, gross mass is 3.58 tonnes, well under our limit of 4 tonnes. Another task we can cross off our to- do list. The van measures 6 metres in length and 2.8 metres high so no more doubts about where we can fit!.
After taking another wrong turn to Beerwah, “Tom- Tom” was set up again and we followed directions to our destination; makes sense!
Free overnight rest stops are frequent along these highways and the one at Kilcoy was particularly comfortable with toilets, showers, shady trees and beside a creek; just a few hops to the pub and shops. We stopped there briefly to make lunch of ham and salad wrapped in mountain bread and had no need to stay overnight. Most of our trip today was a scenic drive along the D’aguilar Highway.
Kath was a bit disappointed with the 'peanut capitol” Kingaroy but in all honesty, we didn’t really spend time looking around as it was getting late and we needed to reach Kumbia to access the steep mountain road into Bunya Mountains NP. We were breaking our own rules about always setting up camp by 4pm and reached Dundabah Camp ground at Bunya Mountains National Park at 5.30pm. Rules can’t always be kept to! The road was so narrow we wondered what would happen if we met oncoming traffic; we didn’t!
The camp ground is a grassy cleared space with a capacity for 70 people and the only camping spot on Bunya that you can camp with vans, caravans and trailers. There are water toilets, hot showers and power points to charge batteries and nearby general store and restaurant; because of these facilities, it is a very popular destination. And very unusually for a National Park, some phone and internet access!
Bunya Mountains is a magic place of cool, quiet rainforests with floors of ferns, and creeks and streams which sadly are very dry at present. It is the home of the tall ancient Bunya pines and a traditional meeting place for aboriginals who came from afar to enjoy the bountiful seasons of the bunya nuts that dropped to the forest floor in huge numbers every 3 years between December and March. The nut is delicious barbecued on the open fire which we did some years ago when camped further up the mountain.
These meetings were special events to tell stories, pass on wisdom, trade and settle disputes and according to the aboriginal Ranger, Martin these meetings still occur here today.
The walking tracks take you through wet and dry rainforest and some much drier areas on the mountain sides.
We completed the “Scenic Circuit” a number of times to check out the splendid bower of the Satin Bowerbird created close to the track. He sat proudly above the bower littered with his collection of blue items which included a blue clothes peg, blue feather, blue bottle tops and labels blue drinking straw, awaiting a willing female. We hiked the other tracks and on hot days it was a relief to be in the dark, cool rainforest.
The area is a bird watchers paradise and the usually hard to see eastern whip bird was seen and heard all over. The gorgeous king parrot and crimson parrots and the spectacular regent bowerbird had everyone gasping and the superb blue wrens hopped around the campground with the aggressive currawongs, and cute red necked wallabies. Sheila found 20 birds for her Bunya bird list and she is still counting.
We had locked our bikes to a sturdy fence and watched with interest a couple of currawongs ripping the plastic bags tied to the seats for protection, hoping to find food and a few campers lost food when they turned away from the table. At night we loved watching the fire flies, bandicoots and the chocolate wattle bats, just 4 cms in size speeding out of the little old school house roof top, set aside for their colony of 600! The spectacular grey goshawks performed daring dives from high to catch prey on the ground around sunset.
Early morning saw us keeping to our routine of the 1hour power walk up the mountain road to Paradise, 6.5 kms return, and lifting weights on the benches outside the Ranger’s Office.
On Saturday night, our camp ground filled up to near capacity and we (the whole camp ground) gained a group of very challenging neighbours- 3 guys, 2 females who drank alcohol from 7am to 10pm and loudly shared their never ending verbalising about sexual functions and exploits, related body parts and all kinds of body functions. And it is no exaggeration to state that every 2nd word was “f…” Kath marvelled at their ability to keep up these topics exclusively and for so long. They remained remote and noisy for their short stay! You can’t choose your neighbours when camping so we practised our tolerance and acceptance principle and appreciated the peaceful ambience of the camp when they moved on.
The remaining campers chatted about the impact the group had had and the brief rain storm that passed over the camp around 6pm. On a happier note our neighbours on the other side were a lovely young couple, Amy and Dean from Bargara, also on their first camping adventure. We enjoyed their company and admired the way they allowed their 18 month son to explore the site without fear or confinement. Their family company “Blue Lagoon” has been supplying Australia with premium avocadoes for 25 years and we promised to look out for that label. You can only admire another family of campers with mum one month off giving birth to her 6th baby, and dad and the five kids under 11years entertaining themselves for a week from a 2 room tent.
We enjoyed 8 days in this special place,1135 metres above sea level, with very cold nights and warm days. A few mornings we woke to howling winds that pushed cold damp mists/fogs over the mountain creating an eerie low visibility, a strange silence and cold temperatures. Good excuse for curling up under the doona for a bit longer. The wallabies took no notice of the changing weather and chomped on the grass endlessly.
We were happy that because of the drier conditions there were no leeches around but the paralysis tick was a danger to watch out for, and several campers reported finding the insect on their bodies; if you tweezer them off carefully they cause no harm but if left to imbed in the skin they can cause muscle weakness and vomitting. Dogs are frequently disabled by them in Queensland.
Definitly recommend this area as a good chill out destination and there is lots of private accomodation for those who don't like camping
As we had not properly checked out the towns on our way here, we headed back to Kingaroy to do a bit of touring and investigation.