Have a Bunya Mountains weekend and you’ll be sitting around a cosy fire after a rainforest walk and some Bunya Mountains bird feeding followed by a cafe stop and watching wildlife that’s not worried about showing off its cuteness to visitors. For mountain bike riders the new Russell Park Mountain Bike Trails add an exciting new dimension to a weekend stay.

Bunya Mountains weekend

For centuries local Indigenous tribes from Queensland and New South Wales knew the Bunya Mountains as a meeting place where they met and feasted on bunya nuts.  It’s still home to the world’s largest stand of Bunya pines.

Later the trails were made by bullock and horse teams as settlers harvested precious red cedar and other valuable rainforest timbers from the steep slopes.  Their chutes where trees were rolled down the mountain still scar the forest today.  You can see Carbines Chute from Dalby Road.

Today it is a landscape filled with cool green rainforest, woodlands and forests of eucalypts punctuated by the tall domes of bunya pine trees and more wildlife than your eyes can absorb. The mountains are thought to be the last remains of a shield volcano that erupted over 30 million years ago.

The new 31 km of Russell Park Mountain Bile Trails will focus increased interest on the region.

Bunyas sign

It’s a long way from Rotterdam for a Bunya Mountains weekend. Photo: Kerry Heaney

When to go

The mountains experience four seasons so there is always a reason to visit here especially if you are exploring the new Russell Park Mountain Bike Trails. It does get cooler during winter but that has its own charm.  Time your visit for the last Sunday of the month and you’ll also enjoy the Bunya Mountain markets.  Bunya Mountain bird feeding is a year-round attraction and the Bunya Mountain cafes are usually open every day in school holidays but do check during other times.

Bunya Mountains wildlife

Friendly wallabies checking out the humans. Photo: Kerry Heaney

Bunya Mountains wildlife

The air is often filled with calls from the 120 species of birds that make their home here and you will see the brightly coloured feathers of crimson rosellas and king parrots flicking past. They arrive at your back door looking for a snack and will alight on the head of those who feed them.

As the sun goes down swamp wallabies and red-necked pademelons often come out to graze on the bright green-tipped grass around your accommodation.  They make another appearance in the early morning too, often shrouded by morning mist.

In October and November look out for the fireflies.  You will see them edging the forest during the hour before dusk.

That is the sort of relaxation a Bunya Mountains weekend offers.

Bunya Mountains weekend

Always look up when walking through the Bunya Mountain rainforest. Photo: Kerry Heaney

Here are my 11 Bunya Mountains weekend tips

Get ready for the crisp mountain air, the flavour of Bunya nuts in your food, cosy nights by the fire and a Bunya Mountains weekend that you’ll remember long after you have returned home.

Here’s what to do.

Book early

If you want a specific date, book everything from accommodation to dining venues and the Sunday paper early. Things book out and sell out here, and the options are limited.

Take plenty of food

The Bunya Mountains is a small community so do not expect to find a supermarket here where you can pick up anything you have left behind.  The general store stocks essentials and some other important stuff like deodorant and ice but it is not Woolworths.  It works well if you pre-plan your meals with hearty casseroles to warm in the oven and plenty of red wine to go with it.

Explore the Russell Park Mountain Bike Trails

The Russell Park Mountain Bike trails (opening April 2022) will have 28km of adrenaline-pumping ‘loops’ and shared trails. One of these trails is a small route to a natural lookout and another shared trail connects Fishers Lookout to Bunya Avenue. There are five trails to explore ranging in length from 1.4 to 7.8 km which link up with sites in the area including Munro’s Camp, Russell Park Day Area, Bunya Mountains Outlook and Rifle Bird Park.


Bunya Mountain walking trail

Walking through the centre of a giant fig. Photo: Kerry Heaney

Bunya Mountains cafes

The Bunya Mountains Coffee Shop and Tavern offers a range of meals including bunya nut scones which must be tried. It includes a bottle shop too.

Shackleton’s Whisky Bar in Dandabah Village is a real find in the Bunyas.  Not only is it Australia’s highest whisky bar but a dram or two or three by the fireplace will really warm you up on a cold Bunya night.

Do plan to try some of the local bush flavours like Bunya Nuts. They look a little like giant macadamia nuts and have a similar flavour. Bunya nuts, which weigh up to eight kilograms, fall from the trees during February and March. Do not park under a Bunya nut tree during those months.

Try Poppies on the Hill Café for Bunya nut and carrot cake.

Pack warm clothes

This is high country ranging from 975 to 1100 metres above sea level.  It is usually at least 5 to 7 degrees cooler than the lowlands and that is all year round so pack warm for your Bunya Mountains weekend.

Those fire-making skills that you learned as a scout (or not) especially useful here as an evening fire is mandatory. While your accommodation will not include linen, it will include wood for the fire but be prepared to chop, chop, chop.

Take good walking shoes

You will need walking shoes to tackle the 35 kilometres of tracks in the area. They range from 500 metres to 10 km long and traverse a range of vegetation types.

Last time we enjoyed a 4 km Scenic Circuit and it was a magical exploration of the forest where we walked through the centre of a giant strangler fig tree.

Some of us were so bewitched by the atmosphere they took a wrong turn and walked the 10 km Barker Creek Circuit.  They had plenty of time to work out where they went wrong.

For a walking trails map visit the QPWS Information Centre in Dandabah which also has some great information about the area and local wildlife.

Bunya Mountain bird feeding
Bunya Mountain bird feeding

Be prepared for birds to land on your hand and your head during Bunya Mountains bird feeding. Photo: Kerry Heaney

6.   Bunya Mountains bird feeding

With a tray of birdseed purchased from The Store, you will suddenly become a magnet for the Australian King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas who live here.  They will land on your tray, your shoulder and even your head so wear a hat if you are squeamish.

If all started when a local began feeding the birds to keep them out of his veggie patch back in the 1970s.  Today there is a licensed interaction plan which allows visitors to interact with the wildlife.

Visitors are asked not to feed the birds outside feeding sessions as this distracts them from their important task of spreading native seeds in the rainforest.

Bunya Mountains weekend

Carriage rides have been a Bunya Mountains treat for 30 years. Photo: Kerry Heaney

Hop on a horse-drawn ride

Alan’s 10-minute horse-drawn tours have been running up and down the main road for 30 years but now you can choose from five different tours!  There is even a two-hour rainforest experience where the Clydesdales take the wagon through a private rainforest and down an old logging track. There is a stop for billy tea, fresh damper, and roasted Bunya nuts.

The tours operate mainly in school holidays and weekends and leave from the General Store.

A weekend in the Bunya Mountains is a chance to stop and reset, to appreciate the special environment and get close to nature.

Bunya Mountains weekend

One of those beautiful Bunya Mountains views. Photo: Kerry Heaney

Find a lookout

The Bunya Mountains offer outstanding views. Head to Fishers Lookout for a view that stretches forever.

Browse the Bunya Mountains markets and find some local history

On Saturdays and Sunday Market days the Cedarvale History Cottage is open from 10 am to 3 pm. It shares the stories of the timber cutters and their families who lived in the area.

The Bunya Mountains Markets are held on the last Sunday of every month.

Go spotlighting

Nocturnal animals such as mountain brushtail possums, sugar gliders and ringtail possums come out at night.  Their eyes will reflect in your torchlight.

Getting to the Bunya Mountains

The Bunya Mountains is about 150 km from the coastline and around a three-hour drive from Brisbane. Take a look at the map below and select the route that best suits your departure point.  You might like to try another way on the way home.

You can find out more about staying in the Bunya Mountains here.

If you like the Bunya Mountains

Try a trip to Killarney for a Brisbane weekend getaway or take yourself on a Scenic Rim food lover’s trail or a Granite Belt food lover’s trail.

Bunya Mountains map