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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bunya Mountains National Park, QLD. Part 1.

Camping at Bunya Mountains National Park, QLD. Part A.

Bunya Mountains National Park is one of our favourite national parks. It is about three and a half hours drive north-west of Brisbane. All the access roads are steep, windy and narrow. The Department of Transport advises that all access roads are unsuitable for long and/or heavy vehicles. Therefore, many people leave their caravans at nearby towns such as Dalby, Maidenwell or Cooyar when they visit the Bunya Mountains. There is plenty of private holiday rental accommodation available at Bunya Mountains suiting most budgets. There are three national park campgrounds: Dandabah, Westcott and Burtons Well. Camping permits are required and need to be booked online or by phone.

Bunya Tree, Sculpture and Shop near the Dandabah Day Use Area
Dandabah is the only campground at Bunya Mountains National Park with vehicle access onto the open grassy camping area. It is next to the Parks Office and close to a restaurant, general store, public phone and walking tracks. There are flushing toilets, non-potable water, hot showers, bins and coin-operated BBQ’s. Pets, fires and generators are not permitted. We couldn't get phone reception here.

Dandabah Campground
Westcott Camping Area is 4.2 km north-west of Dandabah. It is a small, tent only campsite. There is a parking area which is only suitable for cars and 4WD’s. There are pit toilets, picnic tables, non-potable water and fireplaces. No pets or generators are allowed. There are no showers or bins. The campground adjoins a large day use area. Scrub Wrens were flitting about the day use area when we visited.

Westcott Day Use Area
The Koondaii Circuit, the Westcott to Cherry Pain walk and the Paradise to Westcott walk all start or finish at Westcott. More information about the walks will be in a following blog.

Burtons Well Camping Area is 8.5 km north-west of Dandabah. It is a tent only campground where the parking area and the camping area are separated by bollards. It is a large grassy area, some of which is gently sloped. There is non-potable water, pit toilets, lots of wooden picnic tables, fireplaces, firewood supplied and a donkey shower. Please refer to one of our previous blogs if you are unfamiliar with donkey showers:

We had excellent Telstra phone reception here. It is close to the trailhead of the Mt Kiangarow Track and the Cherry Plain to Burtons Well walk. There is an adjoining day use area with a picnic shelter. Pets and generators are not permitted. There are no bins but you can place rubbish in the industrial bins on Bunya Avenue near Dandabah.

Burtons Well Facilities: Woodpile, Shower Block and Toilet Block
There was an interesting birds nest in the shrub near the donkey shower.

Birds Nest at Burtons Well Campground
Our Idyllic Campsite at Burtons Well last September
On arrival,we were surprised to find that there were no Bunya Trees to be seen. Instead, Grass trees Xanthorrhoea, hundreds of years old, are a stunning feature of the Burtons Well campground. Bunya Trees are abundant in other areas of the national park.


Grass Trees, Xanthorrhoea, at Burtons Well
The view to the east from our tent was ever changing and always beautiful. Just on dark, for a magical 45 minutes, fireflies lit up the night zooming backwards and forwards. Later we had a great view out to the lights of Tarong Power Station. The sunrises were spectacular.

Sunrise at Burtons Well Campground
Last September was a really special time to visit because during the winter the indigenous ranger had burnt the grass trees and this caused them to flower profusely which in turn attracted a huge quantity and variety of birds and butterflies.

Orchard Swallowtail, male
The most common birds feeding on the grass tree spike flowers were Eastern Spinebills, Silvereyes and Lewins. We were thrilled to see a female Paradise Riflebird come down to feed.

Paradise Riflebird, female
Even the possums couldn’t resist coming out at night to sample the reputed aphrodisiac qualities of the grass tree spikes in flower.

Bushtail Possum, Burtons Well
Lots of birds were grazing on the grass as well: Crimson Rosellas, Superb Fairy-wrens, Red-browed Finches and White-browed Scrubwrens.

Superb Fairy-wrens
Eastern Yellow Robins were frequent visitors to the campground.Topknot Pigeons, with their strangely shaped heads, visited the taller trees in the late afternoon.

Topknot Pigeon
Female and adolescent Satin Bowerbirds were present in large numbers. Cheeky male Satin Bowerbirds were quick to inspect our camping gear when our backs were turned.

Satin Bowerbird, male
One of the highlights of our stay was seeing a magnificent male Regent Bowerbird fly across the road one afternoon; its bright yellow bands catching the light of the setting sun.

Unfortunately, we didn’t realise until we returned home that the new lens protector that we had purchased was faulty and all our photos taken with that lens had a blurry double image, making many of our photos not up to scratch for this blog.

We had such a wonderful time camping at the Burtons Well Campground last September that we came back at Christmas and again this September. Please see our next blog, Camping at Bunya Mountains National Park QLD, Part B. Which will in turn be followed by Bunya Mountains National Park Walks.

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