Nestled in the most westerly region of southern Queensland is the Bunya Mountains. Home to 600 year-old pines and close to 400 documented species of marsupials, amphibians and reptiles, including birds, Bunya is an incredible place treasured by generations of Australians.
A few years ago, we were fortunate enough to visit the Bunya Mountains National Park. Traveling from Toowoomba up the A2 to the Bunya Mountains Road, the trip through the Great Dividing Range was simply beautiful. We were only just within the park boundaries when we met our first local, a gorgeous carpet python. Stretched across the bitumen soaking up the last of the morning sun, the snake was I no hurry to move. Afraid that the next car down the road wouldn’t stop and give the reptile the right of way I decided to gently move it to the other side of the road. I wanted to be friends but the python wasn’t having any of it. After some coaxing and the help of a stick, the python was safe and we were continuing our journey.
The Park Headquarters was surrounded by more flora and fauna than you could imagine. Visiting during the off-season allowed us our choice of campsite. Once checked in, we were off to set up our tent and put the kettle on for afternoon tea.
Red-necked wallabies frolicked as we settled into what would be our home for the next few days. Joeys would bound around kicking and playing until something startled them; then it was right back in the safety of mum’s pouch. Enjoying Tim Tams and tea gave us some time to plan an afternoon hike around the mountains. The satin bowerbird was high on my list of animals to see. Luckily for us, Bunya did not disappoint.
Not too long after setting off on the first trail we spotted our first satin bowerbird. I could have stood there all day shielded behind a huge tree watching as he spruced his bower and reorganized his blue decorations. Bits of rubbish, all slightly different shades of dark blue, surrounded his masterpiece of twigs.
Not to be outdone by the fauna, the trees were amazing. Their size and uniqueness is unlike anything else I have seen. Some of the strangler figs were large enough to climb up them from the inside! Yet others reminded me of enormous elephant legs. As the path meandered through the forest I couldn’t help but be awestruck. Unfortunately, the light of the day had begun to fade forcing us to retreat back to our camp.
We couldn’t help but notice on the way in the inviting restaurant, Elz Bistro. We had already had a lovely dinner of reconstituted pasta, but could really use a beer. Being the only ones camping in the park also meant there would be no waiting for a seat. As we walked up the steps we were greeted by a friendly “G’day, how ya going?” We told our waiter of our need for a cold beer despite the chilly air temperature. He obliged our request by telling us to sit where we would like and visit the cooler behind the bar as many times as we wished. We would settle our bill when we were reading to leave. My visit to the cooler would only be once since Aussie beer, particularly XXXX, had a much higher alcohol content than I was used to. Nevertheless, we sat in absolutely delight as we sipped our beer listening to the sounds of the night mixed with the low music coming out of the speakers in the rafters. As we were enjoying ourselves I couldn’t help but notice movement on one of the ceiling beams. Out from behind one of the speakers strolled the most adorable brush-tailed opossum. I couldn’t help myself to get up to get a better look. At that time the waiter appeared from the kitchen. “I see you’ve met Music,” the man asked. Stating “We named her that since she lives behind the speaker.” As if I needed another reason to love Australia.
Over the next few days and nights we continued our trek around the Bunya Mountains. Although, at times, camping can get a bit hectic, I have always loved the freedom of being detached from the hustle of everyday life. On this particular trip half of our bags were lost. The rain fly for our tent and my clothes trailed behind us almost five days. However, life in the bush seems to make all of the negative disappear.