After months of COVID lockdowns and outbreaks, and the drudgery of ongoing cancer treatment, I was desperate to get out of town for some fresh air and green space.
We’ve also got a 3-week long trip planned soon, through outback NSW and eventually into the Victorian High Country, so we planned a mini shake-down to test a few of the tweaks we made to the Cruiser and TVAN fit out and packing.
With hot sticky weather forecast in South East Queensland we opted for an escape with a bit of altitude, and headed inland and up to Bunya Mountains National Park in the southern Burnett area of Queensland.
Home of the ancient and impressive Bunya Pine, Bunya Mountains has been drawing visitors for eons, with it being a special meeting place of first nation people for ten of thousands of years. The beautiful scenery and cool climate attracted Europeans too, leading in 1908 to the area being one of Queensland’s earliest declared National Parks.
We took a leisurely route out to the park, over the D’Aguilar Ranges before meandering through Esk, Lake Perseverance, Crows Nest, Peranga and other small country towns of the area. We then started the long steep climb up the Park’s southern access road, giving the Cruiser a solid work out before we levelled off near the summit to receive an impressive vista southward toward the Scenic Rim area.
The weather was looking ominous with heavy clouds seeming to be just out of reach above us and rain scuds hanging like misty veils in the distance. We decided it would be wise to set up camp before taking any hikes in case it came in wet during the afternoon.
Dandabah Camp Ground is one of three at the Park and the only one suitable for vans, trailers and motorhomes. Its fairly civilised compared to our usual destinations, featuring lush green lawns, a camp kitchen and very tidy amenities block. No fires are permitted and it is an open campground without specific sites, although a 70-person limit applies and places can fill up quickly.
There were already many groups set up so we claimed one of the few level areas left, unhitched the trailer and made camp. The lawns must rarely need mowing as they are being continuously trimmed by the many local Bennett’s wallabies, while the patrolling birdlife keeps an eye on the campers. The damp cool climate and many wallabies also mean that ticks can be a problem, so keep an eye on kids and spray some repellent on your shoes and legs.
Once the trailer was set up we headed to one of the shorter hikes, roughly one kilometre each way to the picturesque Festoon Falls. The threat of rain meant that we saw few other people on the trail, allowing us to be immersed in the forest sounds, sights and smells.
Our timing was spot on, with light rain starting as soon as we returned to camp. Preparing an early dinner of toasted steak sandwiches was made easy with the Weber BBQ, despite me forgetting to pack a few of the usual ingredients. A hot chocolate for supper and it was bed time before we knew it, cosy in the TVAN’s cabin as rain strummed gently on its roof.
A good nights’ sleep was followed by a leisurely morning, taking our time for breakfast and coffee in case the weather improved. With departure time approaching and the rain looking to be set in for the day we got stuck into breaking camp, thankful that the TVAN doesn’t have much canvas to pack away, and most of it remained dry due to the tropical roof and awning coverage.
Once hitched and loaded we took the eastern access road out of the park, not as steep as the way we came in and headed toward a little water hole I had heard of that deserved a look – Coomba Falls.
Although the falls were little more than a cascade the water hole at foot of Coomba Falls is very pretty and would be a great place for a dip in hot weather. Its only a short but steep drive from Maidenwell to the Falls, on a narrow road not suited to large caravans – there were a few locals already set up there despite the grey weather, so it must get pretty busy on summer weekends. Definitely worth a look if you are in the area.
We continued eastward through the South Burnett townships of Yarraman, Blackbutt and Kilcoy before turning south for the final run down the range and through Dayboro, then home.
This was an easy trip compared most of our adventures, with a great campground and only a few hours drive from home. The cool weather and lush greenery made for a really enjoyable outing and I highly recommend Bunya Mountains NP if you are after short get away to a beautiful part of the country.