Take the road less travelled on the Great Bunya Drive and venture through the Brisbane Valley and the Garden City of Toowoomba to the cool Bunya Mountains.
Drive through rolling hills and rich farmlands, enjoy scenic lookouts and come face to face with the world's largest bunya pine rainforest on a choice of bushwalking trails.
Rising abruptly from the surrounding plains, the peaks of the Bunya Mountains reach more than 1100m (3608ft) above sea level and offer spectacular mountain scenery, panoramic views and abundant wildlife.
Believed to be the remains of an old shield volcano formed over 30 million years ago, the Bunya Mountains form an isolated section of the Great Dividing Range.
Several steep, narrow and winding routes, signposted as the Great Bunya Drive, lead to the Bunya Mountains National Park.
Here you can discover a cool mountain habitat of ancient rainforests, panoramic views, native birds and one of the world’s largest stands of bunya pines.
Must-see sights include…
Bunya Mountains National Park is Queensland’s second oldest national park and protects the world’s largest stand of ancient bunya pines that tower over moist rainforest along the range crest, while hoop pines dominate dry rainforest on lower slopes.
Subtropical rainforest, once the most widespread rainforest community in Queensland, grows along the range crest and upper sections of the eastern side of the mountains.
Semi-evergreen vine thickets and at least seven other types of dry rainforest grow on the lower or western slopes. The park's forests shelter rare and threatened plants including orchids and small herbs.
Natural grassland containing rare grass species are scattered across the mountains. The national park also protects open eucalypt forests, woodlands, brigalow scrub and the largest protected areas of vine thickets dominated by bottle trees in Australia.
The park is also home to around 120 species of birds and many species of mammals, frogs and reptiles. Several rare and threatened animals live here including sooty owls, powerful owls, the black-breasted button quail, a skink species and a number of mammals. Birdlife is abundant, with brightly-coloured parrots being popular visitors to picnic areas.
A network of more than 35km (21mi) of walking tracks allows you to explore through bunya forests, eucalypt forests, grasslands and vine scrubs.
Each walk is classified so you can choose the right track for your walking experience and fitness level.
The eastern rainforest circuits start from Dandabah or the Paradise car park and are all Class 3 walks, ranging from a short 10-minute return 500m walk through the rainforest and bunya pines, to a 10km (6.2mi) return hike through spectacular rainforest, grassland and some eucalypt forest, taking in the Big Falls lookout – allow up to four hours to complete the longer walk.
The western walks along the western cliffs generally start and finish at the picnic areas and can be linked to make a longer walk. These trails are classified as Class 3 and Class 4 walks, ranging from a one hour return 2.5km (1.5mi) mountainside walk with views overlooking the Koondaii Valley, to a 12km (7.4mi) walk featuring lookouts such as Bottletree Bluff and Ghinghion – allow up to four hours to complete the longer walk.
Along the way discover cool mountains, rainforests and waterfalls, unique range-top grasslands, panoramic views and colourful birdlife.
Look out for brilliantly-coloured king parrots and crimson rosellas and red-necked wallabies which feed in grassy areas. You may also see satin bowerbirds, green catbirds and the huge tadpoles of great barred-frogs.
At night you may also catch a glimpse of other interesting wildlife such as frogmouths, owls, possums, bats and frogs.
Bunya Mountains National Park is located around 200km (124mi) or three hours’ drive north-west of Brisbane. The final mountain ascent is via steep, narrow and winding roads.
Eastern rainforest circuits: These walks start from Dandabah or the Paradise car park.
Scenic circuit – Perhaps the most popular walk on the mountain, this 4km (2.4mi) circuit track from the Dandabah picnic area leads through bunya pine forest and a variety of mountain scenery including rock pools and Festoon and Tim Shea falls (photo).
Experience ancient bunya pine forest, waterfalls and rock pools, towering trees and sweeping panoramic view of the valleys and hills of South Burnett from Pine Gorge lookout.
Look for green catbirds, paradise rifle-birds and red-legged pademelons. Peek in rock pools for the huge tadpoles of great barred frogs, and try to spot rare sooty owls, which sometimes roost in the hollow of the giant fig tree straddling the boardwalk.
If time is short, walk in an anti-clockwise direction and turn back at either Festoon Falls or Pine Gorge lookout.
Allow one hour 30 minutes to complete the return walk.
Barker Creek circuit — The 10km (6.2mi) circuit track passes through spectacular rainforest, grassland and some eucalypt forest.
A 750m side track leads to Big Falls lookout with views overlooking the falls and valley to the north-east. The trail also passes Paradise, Little and Tim Shea falls.
You access this circuit track from Dandabah picnic area or Paradise car park. Allow up to four hours to complete the walk.
Barker Creek Lookout track – This 5.4km (3.3mi) one way rainforest trail takes you past waterfalls to a grassy ‘bald’ with stunning views over Big Falls and the gorge below.
You access this circuit track from Dandabah picnic area or Paradise car park. Allow two hours to complete the walk.
From Paradise car park, meander through rainforest along Barker Creek, passing Paradise Falls and Little Falls along the way. Follow the track to Big Falls lookout with views overlooking the falls and valley below, which features large hoop pines.
The true splendour of the falls – the tallest in the Bunya Mountains – is only revealed after heavy rain. Look out for carpet pythons basking in patches of sunlight, as well as grey goshawks, wedge-tailed eagles and topknot pigeons wheeling overhead. In the rainforest, listen for green catbirds and wompoo fruit-doves.
Dandabah to Paradise – This 6km (3.7mi) return track passes through spectacular rainforest with giant bunya pines. This is a great walk either on its own, or as part of the Barker Creek circuit. Access this track from either Dandabah or Paradise car park. Allow up to two hours to complete.
Western rainforest circuits: Most of the tracks along the western cliffs start and finish at picnic areas along the bitumen road and can be linked together to make a longer walk. If you wish to avoid a long return trip, arrange for a friend to pick you up or park your car at an exit point.
Paradise to Westcott — This 6.4km (4mi) return track follows part of the cliff-line on the mountains' western side with Westcliff lookout providing clear views over the open plains of the Darling Downs.
Soon after leaving the Paradise car park, the track passes through Little Pocket, one of the small natural clearings or 'balds' scattered over the Bunya Mountains.
Here you may experience magnificent rainforest, grassy ‘balds’ and open forest along the cliff line, and expansive views over the western plains.
From Paradise car park, stroll through delightful rainforest to Little Pocket, one of the small natural clearings, or 'balds,' scattered across the Bunya Mountains. Continue on into open forest and follow the cliff line to Westcliff lookout.
Soak up the views of valleys and open plains of the Darling Downs in the distance. Look for Burtons legless lizards and watch peregrine falcons soaring from the cliffs and topknot pigeons feeding in the fig trees sheltered in the valley. In spring, look for king orchids along the cliff edge.
The track ends at Westcott picnic area – from here continue on to Cherry Plain or retrace your steps. Allow up to two hours 30 minutes to complete the walk.
Koondaii circuit — Starting from the Westcott picnic area, this 2.5km (1.5mi) circuit track zig-zags down the steep mountainside to a lookout with views over the Koondaii Valley. The return is a steady uphill climb.
From the Westcott picnic area, zigzag down a steep slope in and out of open forest to the Koondaii lookout. Gaze at panoramic views over the rainforest gully, Koondaii Valley and the distant plains of the Darling Downs.
In late summer, enjoy the picturesque carpet of velvety-pink lacebark flowers covering the track. During spring, delight in the elaborate yellow blossoms of king orchids along the cliff edge.
Listen for wonga pigeons cooing and honeyeaters chattering as they feed on nectar-filled blossoms. See topknot pigeons feeding in fig trees and watch peregrine falcons taking flight from the cliffs.
It's easier to walk this circuit in a clockwise direction. Allow up to one hour to complete.
Westcott to Cherry Plain — From the Westcott picnic area, this 9.6km (6mi) return track follows the cliff-line to provide views over remnants of bottletree scrubs protected in the park and on to the township of Bell and the plains below. Return to the road at Cherry Plain. Allow up to four hours to complete.
Cherry Plain to Burtons Well — The 12km (7.4mi) return Cherry Plain to Burtons Well track is the longest of the western walks and features many lookouts such as Bottletree Bluff and Ghinghion.
For the easier walk, begin at Burtons Well. In spring, the cliff-lines are edged with gold as king orchids flower.
Along the way delight in the beauty of nature as you discover rainforest, vine thickets, open forest and scenic lookouts. Allow up to four hours walking time to complete.
From Burtons Well picnic area, wander through fern-carpeted rainforest along the mountain top and admire views from scenic lookouts, including Bottle Tree Bluff, Ghinghion and Cherry Plain.
In spring, marvel at the cliff lines edged with golden-flowering king orchids. Walk through pockets of open forest with views over sheltered valleys and distant plains then emerge into open forest and grasslands along the western cliff line.
Listen for the songs of forest birds and the croak of frogs in the gully streams. Scan the forest floor for feasting black-breasted button-quails.
For a shorter walk, arrange to be picked up at Cherry Plain or return to Burtons Well by road.
The track starts from either the Cherry Plain picnic area, 6km (3.7mi) along Bunya Mountains Road, or from Burtons Well picnic area, 8.5km (5.2mi) along Bunya Mountains Road from the south-eastern park entrance.
Mount Kiangarow — This 2.3km (1.4mi) return track leads to summit of Mt Kiangarow at around 1135m (3723ft) about sea level – the highest point of the Bunya Mountains.
The track climbs gradually, winding around the mountain and leading to an avenue of grasstrees at the crest with magnificent panoramas overlooking the park and surrounding countryside.
Allow one hour walking time. Set out early in the morning to see the sun rise across the valleys and mountains.
Listen for the distinctive two-part 'whip-crack' call of eastern whipbirds and watch for the thrilling sight of grey goshawks hunting at speed across the top of the forest canopy, and wedge-tailed eagles soaring on the thermals around the mountains' highest peak.
The track starts opposite Burtons Well picnic area, around 8.5km (5.2mi) along Bunya Mountains Road from the south-eastern park entrance or approximately 4km (2.4mi) from the northern park entrance, at the top of the steep descent to Kingaroy.
Enjoy the Great Bunya Drive, a scenic self-drive route meandering through 390km(242mi) of beautiful scenic landscapes between Toowoomba and Gympie, encompassing both the Darling Downs and South Burnett regions.
Along the way discover wineries, gourmet cafés, heritage museums, country markets and stunning national parks waiting to be explored.
Toowoomba to Bunya Mountains – From Brisbane head west to the historic 'Garden City' of Toowoomba.
Take some time to explore the city, which offers more than 150 public parks and gardens. Duck into the Cobb & Co. Museum, housing Australia's largest collection of horse-drawn vehicles. Then enjoy spectacular views at Picnic Point.
Located to the south of the Warrego Highway at the top of the escarpment, Picnic Point lookout offers panoramic views across the the Lockyer Valley and Tabletop Mountain. From Picnic Point car park you can choose from several bushwalks.
From Toowoomba, follow the Warrego Highway west through Oakey, Jondaryan and Dalby. Along the way, stop off at the Australian Army Flying Museum, the Woolshed at Jondaryan or the Dalby Pioneer Museum.
Heading north via Jimbour, you can view the historic-listed Jimbour House; then continue through the picturesque country township of Bell to Bunya Mountains National Park, Queensland’s second oldest National Park.
Formed about 30 million years go, this natural landscape shelters the largest stand of ancient bunya pines in the world.
The Bunya Mountains is a mix of moist rainforest, grasslands, open forests and woodlands and is home to distinct plant and animal communities, with more than 30 rare and threatened species.
Bunya Mountains to Kingaroy – From the Bunya Mountains National Park head towards Kingaroy – Australia’s peanut capital Kingaroy. Here you can stock up on your favourite flavoured peanuts at the famous Peanut Van.
If art and culture is your thing then head to the Kingaroy Regional Art Gallery and Kingaroy Heritage Museum. Check out the Kingaroy Visitor Information Centre for locally produced oils, capers, fudge, jams and chutneys.
Kingaroy to Murgon – Continuing north to Murgon you’ll soon notice more farming land where crops like peanuts, maize (corn), sorghum, Duboisia and Paulownia.
Stop in at Memerambi’s famous Stop Shop for a ice cream or to see their range of local goodies.
As you drive along the Bunya highway into the village of Wooroolin, the wetlands come into view. Located around 16km (10mi) north of Kingaroy along the Bunya Highway, the wetlands are the perfect spot for birdwatchers.
From Wooroolin you’ll pass through Tingoora – Aboriginal for 'many wattle trees'. Tingoora is synonymous with the Tinny Pub – a good spot for lunch or a cold drink, before heading into Wondai.
Wondai was traditionally a dairy and timber area. Take a look around at the Wondai Regional Art Gallery, Wondai Heritage Museum and the South Burnett Timber Museum which is also home to the Wondai Visitor Information Centre.
Just up the road is Murgon, which was another dairy-producing area in its day.
Murgon to Gympie – On your way out of Murgon swing by the Bjelke Petersen Dam, one of two dams in the South Burnet area.
Also in that same area is a number of South Burnett wineries. Choose between Verdelho, Merlot, Chardonnay or Shiraz varieties.
Located just 12km (7.4mi) north-east of Murgon, Boat Mountain Conservation Park offers pleasant views, trails to two lookouts and bird watching where it is possible to see around 46 species of birds, including rufous whistlers, black-faced cuckoo-shrikes, double-barred finches, red-backed wrens, honeyeaters, fantails, doves and pigeons.
You might also see black-striped wallabies and echidnas by day or pygmy-possums and sugar gliders at night. Bandicoot diggings can be seen along the track.
At 589m (1935ft) high, Boat Mountain is a local landmark in the Murgon area and is the headwaters of four creeks. Once home to a hoop pine rainforest, the landscape is now a mixture of softwood scrub and vine thicket following logging.
More than 130 plant species grow here. Common trees include the small-leaved tuckeroo, white tamarind, leopard ash and native holly. The park also contains grassy open eucalypt woodland with stringybarks and grey gums.
From Murgon, continue along the Bunya highway until you reach the Burnett highway turnoff. Taking a left onto the Burnett highway and heading into the town of Goomeri, which is famous for the Goomeri Pumpkin festival on the last Sunday in May.
Call into the Goomeri bakery for a cuppa and sweet or savoury snack before continuing along the Wide Bay highway into another small town of Kilkivan. The town of Kilkivan is home to the Great Kilkivan Horse Ride and the Kilkivan Historial Museum.
Travel along the Wide Bay highway until you get to the Bruce Highway, which will take into the town of Gympie, known for it’s gold mining history.
There are plenty of accommodation options available in the Bunya Mountains: the Bunya Mountains Accommodation Centre provides information on 100 holiday homes, from small studios and cottages for one, to chalets that can accommodate more than 20 people.
There are also three Bunya Mountains camping areas located in the national park at Dandabah (photo), Westcott and Burton Wells. All have toilets and picnic tables.
Dandabah is a large open area suitable for a range of camping experiences. Westcott and Burtons Well are suitable only for tents as cars must remain in sealed car parks nearby.
Camping permits are required and fees apply. Permits are best booked prior to arrival as permits cannot be issued by rangers on site. Book well ahead for school holidays and public holidays.
Trip length from Brisbane 3 days; Total distance 617km (383mi); Road conditions All sealed roads. Segment distance: Brisbane to Toowoomba – 190km, 4hrs 30min; Toowoomba to Bunya Mountains – 147km, 2hrs; Bunya Mountains to Kingaroy – 86km, 1hr 15min; Kingaroy to Murgon – 45km, 35min; Murgon to Gympie – 93km, 1hr; Gympie to Brisbane – 170km (106mi), 2hrs 7min. Suggested overnight stops: Toowoomba and Bunya Mountains
Brisbane is the capital, and most populated city, in Queensland.
The city is located on the Brisbane River, about 15km (9mi) from its mouth at Moreton Bay in southeast Queensland. Brisbane extends in all directions along the Brisbane River Valley between Moreton Bay and the Great Dividing Range.
The most convenient route to Brisbane, from overseas or interstate, is by air to Brisbane Airport (BNE), located about 12km (7.4mi) northeast of the city centre.
More information on How to get to Brisbane…
Latest update: Bunya Mountains: 16 March, 2021
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