48 hours in the Bunya Mountains with teens in tow
Ever find that you’re sitting at the dinner table talking to yourself, while the kids are all glued to their phones? And that’s only if you manage to get them to sit with you at all.
Try a short weekend break; a chance for all of you to de-stress, disconnect from the outside world and, you know, talk to each other.
For this, the Bunya Mountains are perfect. Firstly because there’s no internet so the kids have no choice but to talk to each other, and secondly because the Bunya Mountains have traditionally been used to bring groups of people together.
The beautiful Bunya Mountains were once visited regularly by Aboriginal tribes from all over Queensland to meet and feast in Bunya nut season while discussing laws, arranging marriages and bonding. There’s no reason it won’t work for your family. Just let the kids remain single a while longer.
2PM: Head to the South-East Queensland countryside
As much as you may want to leave them at grandma’s after all the whining, keep in mind it may hamper the bonding process if they’re not with you. Get the kids on side by letting them leave school early, and earn teen cred before even leaving the city.
Head over to the Blackbutt Bakery for one of the brownies they’re renowned for (think salted macadamia and crème de menthe).
5PM: Arrive at the mystical Bunya Mountains
Once you hit Yarraman take the New England Highway and follow the Bunya Mountain sign posts. You’ll know when you get there.
Immediately the temperature drops and the light dims as you begin the drive through thick and tangled rainforest – an eerie feeling that definitely has the teens alert and interested. Make sure to wind down the windows to make it just that tiny bit creepier.
Check into one of the many homes available (over 100) from the Bunya Mountains Accommodation Centre. No matter how large your group, there’s a house to fit everyone and most come with fireplaces loaded with wood. You may need to bring sheets and blankets, so just check before you go.
6:30PM: I’m starving. What’s for dinner?
After using the allure of dinner to get everyone to unpack and settle in, head over to Elz Bistro at the Bunya Mountains Coffee Shop & Tavern for a homemade Guinness Pie or a hearty chicken parmy.
8:30PM: More s’mores please
Back at home, load up the fireplace, toast some marshmallows and teach the kids the art of s’more making. The temperature up in the Bunya Mountains is much cooler than Brisbane, so come armed with a stash of cocoa for the necessary hot chocolates.
7AM: Bird feeding
Drag the brood out of bed early, let them wrap their doonas around them and sit outside to watch the mountain mists slowly lift, and the king parrots and crimson rosellas come to visit. Ensure you bring plenty of birdseed (wild bird mix is best).
9AM: I’m starving. What’s for breakfast?
With everyone snuggled in doonas in the crisp air, whip up some pancakes (just a shaker pancake mix so you don’t miss out on family time), laze around and you’ll find the cosiness and full bellies will have you and your kids chatting away.
11AM: Search for the bunya nut
If your teens are inspired by a little competition, dedicate today to searching for the infamous Bunya nut. As long as they don’t try to kill each other, the competition should spark their interest.
Walk through the absolutely stunning Bunya Bunya Track, and weave your way through the rainforests around the Dandabah camping area and down along Bunya Avenue. Do take care though, as from February to March the Bunya nuts are known to fall from the trees and at about 8kg each, they may just hurt (or kill) you.
1PM: I’m starving. What’s for lunch?
Chances are you didn’t find any Bunya nuts, so if the kids are still in one piece and talking to each other, continue the walk over to Poppies on the Hill where you’re guaranteed to find Bunya nuts in the form of a burger, carrot cake and ice-cream.
On your stroll back home look out for the many wallabies that call the Bunya Mountains home. Make sure you also look down, as the grassy areas seem to be full of their droppings.
Just before sunset: I’m bored. There’s nothing to do
Grab a torch each for later and walk up to Fisher’s Lookout. Pick a good spot and sit together to watch the sunset behind the Bunya Pines in the distance.
Feel the magic of the moment with your family. Engage the teens in a deep conversation about life by asking them what they think of the sunset. Ignore the laughing and high fives when one says: “Um, I think it’s red”.
At least they’re bonding. Let it go.
Dusk: Search for nightlife
If it’s October/November, look out for the twinkling of fireflies on your way down from Fisher’s Lookout. Also out at dusk you’ll find chocolate wattled bats looking for insects to eat. The Bunya Mountains have the largest colony of these bats in Australia.
As the darkness sets in, go spotlighting against the rainforest along Bunya Avenue, looking out for possums, sugar gliders and frogs.
7PM: I’m starving, blah blah blah
Head back home for a barbeque using a BBQ package purchased earlier from Poppies on the Hill. Relax by the fire with a few leftover marshmallows and some board games the whole family will enjoy.
10AM: Relax with a nature walk or trot
After a sleep in and a leisurely breakfast, pack up, check out and set off on another nature walk along the Barker Creek Circuit (about an hour and 20 minutes), otherwise if you’re after something a bit more relaxing, have a small tour of the Bunya Mountains with Bunya Mountains Horse Drawn Tours.
12:30PM: Timber history
Pick up some picnic supplies from the general store and head down the mountain to Russell Park and check out remnants of the Bunya Mountains’ timber history at Carbines Chute and Chute No. 3 (both were used to roll logs down the mountain). Pick out a great spot and set up the picnic.
3PM: Head home
Enjoy the relaxing drive back home while the kids sleep peacefully in the back. Remember, if you all argued, laughed, fought, had silent moments and enjoyed what nature had to offer, you did it together as a family.
That’s family bonding.