Beautiful Bunya Mountains ticks all the boxes for camping with kids
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Planning your holidays and short breaks tends to revolve around the kids, right? Well, you’re not alone! A recent survey of 500 families found that not only do most families consider their kids’ wishes, but 87% give their kids a say in planning family trips.
The survey also found that what kids want from their family holiday isn’t greatly different from what parents want—a little adventure and a little relaxation. Kids like having their own space and spending time away with their parents (yes, you read that correctly, ‘with’ not ‘from’!), also seeing new places, trying new things, staying up late at night and bringing a friend along.
We know a place that ticks all these boxes and it’s not too far away! Beautiful Bunya Mountains National Park, only 3hrs from Brisbane, is a perfect place for a family camping trip for a long weekend or even better, a mid-week getaway.
For countless generations, people have been gathering here to renew friendships, revitalise spirituality and respect cultural lore. Now it’s your turn to reconnect with family, refresh in nature and revel in new experiences.
So dust off the family camping gear, pack the ball games and other family paraphernalia (don’t forget the pack of cards!) into the family wagon and head for the hills!
Bunya Bunya track | Maxime Coquard © Tourism and Events Queensland
Not usually on the kids’ wish list but the journey can be fun…with a bit of planning!
Make the journey to the Bunya Mountains memorable for all the right reasons! Banish backseat boredom with ‘I spy’ and ‘Road trip bingo’ as you drive through the scenic rural landscape towards the mountains that rise abruptly from the surrounding plains. Fun fact: The peaks are more than 1100m above sea level.
The Great Bunya Drive into the park is a steep, narrow and winding route with spectacular views along the way. Time to switch to playing a variation on the ‘alphabet memory game’: ‘I’m going camping and I’m bringing…’ followed by something that starts with A, B, C and so on.
Once you arrive at the park, you’ll discover rainforest-clad peaks sheltering the largest stand of ancient bunya pines in the world—a haven for people and wildlife alike.
Great Bunya Drive | © Tourism and Events Queensland
Delight in Dandabah—all that fresh air and so much space!
Set up your ‘home away from home’ in the popular Dandabah camping area, where you’ll find space enough for the largest of family tents, or even separate tents for the kids and their mates (remember they do like their own space!) as well as a badminton net or perhaps a portable soccer goal or two. Whatever keeps them occupied and happy!
You’ll find an impressive list of home comforts to make family camp life easy for the ‘activities director’ aka mum (sorry dads!), including flushing toilets, hot showers and coin-operated electric barbecues. #bliss!
Sit back and soak up the views of majestic bunya pines towering over the surrounding rainforest and breathe deeply the cool mountain air. Double #bliss!
Dandabah camping area | © Lisa Swartz
Back to nature at Burtons—escape the ‘madding crowd’
If you prefer more secluded camping, away from the crowds, and don’t mind roughing it a little (we’re talking hybrid toilets and 'brisk' showers), consider staying at Burtons Well camping area. Actually, its not that ‘rough’—if you fire up the donkey boiler (wood-fired heater), you can have a warm shower!
At Burtons, you’ll wake to spectacular sunrises and, at night, sit around a wood barbecue (firewood provided) playing cards and board games, and listening to the night rustlings of the forest—bandicoots in the leaf litter and possums in the tree branches… It’s also near the start of the Mount Kiangarow walking track—an hour’s return walk to the highest point in the park. 'Insta-worthy' views!
Now, the kids love the lack of rules when camping, especially staying up late, so this more secluded camping area could be perfect for your family.
Burtons Well camping area | Robert Ashdown © Queensland Government
Go wild for wildlife, and try something new!
Whether your kids are novices or ‘old hands’ at wildlife spotting and spotlighting, they'll love seeing the wildlife that abounds in this park. Watch red-necked wallabies lazing around the picnic areas. Look and listen for brilliantly-coloured Australian king-parrots, crimson rosellas, kookaburras and, of course, brush turkeys.
The real excitement begins at dusk. Grab torches (with red cellophane filters so you don't startle the animals) and head out on a spotlighting adventure to look for common ringtail possums as well as frogmouths, owls and bats. Even the ‘coolest’ teen or tween is bound to be captivated by the experience of glimpsing eye shine in the dark and peering closely to see which animal is hiding in the foliage.
In the warmer months, gather the kids outside the old timber school house, near the Dandabah picnic area, where thousands of tiny chocolate-wattled bats roost—watch the spectacle of the bats flying out at dusk.
Dandabah day-use area | Robert Ashdown © Queensland Government
Hike to happiness—get set to experience something new!
Mornings in the Bunyas are for hiking. If you are a family with ‘little legs’, or just want a short stroll, take a wander on the Bunya Bunya track through rainforest and bunya pines. If you have more energetic tweens or teens, gear up for longer ramble, and prepare the kids to experience new places!
On the 10km Barker Creek circuit you’ll encounter spectacular rainforest, ‘big views’ from Big Falls lookout, and a grassy ‘bald’ that is perfect for a lunch stop. Or, if you can arrange a pick-up, try one of the one-way walks along the western cliffs—customise a hike to suit your experience by linking several walks together.
You and the kids will revel in the sense of freedom, plentiful fresh air and all-round fabulous views. Remember to pack lots of snacks and drinking water, wherever you walk. So much new to see and do for your family of happy hikers!
Western walks | © Lisa Swartz
Dig a little deeper—travelling is a great learning opportunity!
After an energetic morning walk, the family will be ready for a relaxing afternoon. Where better to spend some down time than in the Bunya Mountains Information Centre? Here you’ll discover why people (like you) have been visiting the Bunya Mountains for thousands of years.
The kids will be fascinated to find out about the soccer-ball-sized bunya cones, chock-full of edible bunya nuts, that drop (and we mean drop!) to the forest floor in late summer, and how Aboriginal people gathered here for huge bunya nut festivals. Learn more about bunya pine forests (did you know you step back in time when you enter a bunya pine forest?) and ‘balds and burns’ (not hairstyles, or lack of them, but native grasslands)!
Bunya cone | © Robert Ashdown
You can see why we think Bunya Mountains is a 'must do' for the whole family. It simply ticks all the boxes on the kids’ wish list! If you need a little more enticement, check out Bunya Mountains National Park for the details or take a closer look at your camping options right away! Remember to check Park alerts for up-to-date park conditions before you set out.
Last updated: 13 March 2020