If there’s one thing the Bunya Mountains is known for, it’s nature.
The sound of birds chirping in the trees, as wild wallabies hop around on the grass nearby. And huge bunya pines tower over the landscape, creating majestic silhouettes on the horizon as the sky lights up in sensational colour at both dawn and dusk.
If you want somewhere to stop and breathe it all it – metaphorically and actually – the Bunya Mountains is the place for you.
A 3.5-hour drive from Brisbane or 3 hours from the Sunshine Coast, it offers an idyllic escape that should be top of your travel wish list.
Here’s our rundown on what not to miss…
1. Take a walk on the wild side
There are numerous bushwalks on the mountain to choose from, but some of the most popular are the 4km Scenic Circuit which takes you past lookouts, waterfalls and creeks, and even passes through a huge strangler fig. Known as the ‘Harry Potter Tree’ to the locals, make sure to look up as you pass under the tree to see if you can spot the resident barn owl.
2. Sunset, sunset, sunset
Did you even go to the Bunya Mountains if you didn’t visit Fishers Lookout at sunset? Having been given a glamorous overhaul in 2019, Fishers Lookout is the place to be seen every night to watch the sky light up in dramatic fashion. Stick around after the sun has dipped below the horizon line, as we found the colours just kept getting better.
3. Foodie favourites
While you can easily self-cater in the multitude of quaint cabins that dot the mountain, don’t miss out on the opportunity to relax with a top shelf whisky while you dine on delicious food at Shackleton’s Whisky Bar and The Bunyas Coffee Shop and Tavern. The highest whisky bar in Australia, there are plenty of other delicious offerings on the menu to tempt even the fussiest foodie. In February and March your also likely to get to taste the local delicacy – Bunya nuts!
4. Hop to it
Enjoy a cuppa at Poppies on the Hill Café while making friends with some of the friendly furry locals. Several of the local red-necked and black-striped wallabies regularly hop amongst the tables on the lawn, while at dusk the grassy area surrounding the café becomes covered in the hoppy animals.
5. Chase fireflies
In October and November every year, fireflies can be found in the forest on the Bunya Mountains. Your best chance to see them is shortly after some rain. After sunset, wander down Bunya Mountains Road from Fishers Lookout, taking a left turn through Rifle Bird Park.
6. Feathered friends
Hand feed wild rosellas and king parrots outside The Bunya General Store. Pop into the store for a $5 tray of seed. Times vary due to the wild birds operating on their own time, so ask the staff for their suggestions, but we found 3.30pm to be a good time.
7. Go West!
If you’re looking for a fun daytrip into the countryside, head down the mountain into the Western Downs. We’d highly recommend packing a picnic and spending the day exploring the grounds of Jimbour House. The majestic country estate is one of the area’s best kept secrets and is sure to knock your socks off!
8. Come on baby, light my fire
Living near the coast, we don’t often get the chance to sit beside a roaring fire, so one of the benefits of visiting the Bunya Mountains in the winter months is definitely sipping a glass of red wine while toasting marshmallows over the fireplace. Bliss!
9. Clip clop with Clydesdales
Local company Bunya Mountains Horse Drawn Tours offers horse and carriage rides reminiscent of the early settlers’ bullock and horse teams used to harvest local timber. It’s the perfect way to enjoy some history while also exploring the area. You can even book a tour that includes damper and bunya nuts cooked on an open fire in the forest!
10. Our top tip to get ‘hoppy’
If seeing the wallabies is a big drawcard for your visit, book one of the cabins located closer to town. On our first trip we stayed near the TV Towers, and while the view was sensational, the kids would have preferred to have had more wildlife around. We had a couple of wallabies visit at dawn and dusk, but the cabins along Bunya Avenue, for example, seemed to constantly have wallabies emerging from the nearby bush to feed on the lawn.