Don’t go there. You’re wasting your time. That’s what we were told by an older couple that we bumped into, when we told them we’d booked two nights to stay at the Dandaragan Camping area in the Bunya Mountains.
We’ve had all sorts of comments passed on over the years, and whilst we appreciate them, we have learnt to take them all with a grain of salt, and like usual, that’s exactly what we did.
As it turns out, we thought they couldn’t have been further off the mark, and that’s not uncommon for us either.
Where are the Bunya Mountains?
They Bunya Mountains are roughly 3 hours North West of Brisbane, in between Dalby and Kingaroy. At 1135 metres tall, expect a fairly steep drive up and back down too!
Can you take a caravan to the Bunya Mountains?
Given the height of these Mountains, and the fact that the roads can be quite narrow, its worth thinking about caravans and the Bunya Mountains. The short of it is this; yes, you can take caravans to the Bunya Mountains, but it is not recommended.
We saw a number of signs that contradicted themselves, and suggested ‘not suitable for caravans or buses’, and then there were bus turning circles, and we saw plenty of trucks using them.
We came up from Maidenwell, and down to Rangemore. Both drives were fine with our Hybrid camper, but they’re steep and you want to keep an eye on your brakes, and automatic transmission temperatures.
What are the Bunya Mountains like?
We’ve seen a lot of Australia, and there’s some truly amazing places that we have all over the country. The Bunya Mountains though, are a really, really special place, and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.
This is a small community, amongst stunning natural diversity and a huge number of walks all over the mountains. The quietness, bird life, cool temperatures and atmosphere makes it a place that we will remember for a very, very long time.
The difference between the Bunya Mountains and the surrounding areas below in the warmer months is nothing short of staggering, and we marvelled at the change as we drove up the mountains, and arrived in the beautiful region, and that was before stepping foot into the forest itself!
Bunya Mountains Camping options
The most common Bunya Mountain camping options are the three national park campgrounds.
Dandabah is the most common, and popular place to camp. It’s a big, grassy area located right next to the Café, tavern and general store, and is a short stroll away from several walks through the forest. This is suitable for all types of camping, and can get very busy, and very tight. It’s allocated for 70 people per night, but if that’s 35 couples in caravans, its going to be a squeeze.
That said, if you visit during the week its going to be much quieter, and asides from a school camp whilst we were there, there was still a heap of extra room available.
Dandabah has great amenities (easily as good as what we’ve seen in QLD national parks) including flushing toilets, hot showers, a wash up area and beautiful views.
Wescott and Burtons Well are the other two campgrounds, which are suitable for tent camping only, off your vehicle. You won’t get away with camping in a rooftop tent or out of a small van here; its for taking a tent and setting it up on the lawn. Whilst these camp sites are decent too, we thought Dandabah was much nicer as long as you are prepared to put up with more people.
The next option, is to make use of a couple of private properties around the Bunya Mountains. We very nearly booked into one that was well priced, but upon reading that it was a 35 minute drive to the top of the mountains we backtracked, and booked Dandabah instead.
On Hipcamp, you’ll find a handful of properties that you can camp at which aren’t too far away, along with Koehler Park, which is a free camp. For what you get though, we recommend Dandabah; its a fantastic place to stay, as long as you expect to have plenty of neighbours, close up.
It gets cold
The Bunya Mountains are located in the alpine region of Queensland, and if that doesn’t tell you already that the weathers going to be different, let me tell you it is. In the middle of October, we had nights down to 8 degrees, with it feeling like 4, according to the weather forecast.
On our last morning we had fog blowing through the campground, and apparently there is a photo going around of snow on the grass at Dandaragan, which whilst its incredibly rare, it doesn’t surprise me in one bit.
What’s most amazing about the change is how quickly it happens when you drive up. One minute its dry, barren and hot at the base of the mountains, and not long after you’re standing in the Bunya Mountains Forest, with a light breeze blowing through making you want a jumper!
I chuckled to see almost everyone camping at Dandaragan wearing long pants, jumpers and beanies before dark, which is virtually unheard of in Queensland in the middle of October!
When is the best time to visit the Bunya Mountains?
I was concerned that we’d be going at a time when things would be too dry, but couldn’t find much information online. As it turns out, in the middle of October, in a year where there wasn’t that much rain, the grass at Dandabah was still quite green, and it was absolutely magic weather. The days were warm with the sun out, and the nights were cold enough to wear winter clothing.
There was still trickles of water running down the creeks and falls, and made for a really beautiful time to visit, especially considering the stark contrast of the dry, and hot areas below.
You could visit any time of the year and have fun in the Bunya Mountains, but it would get really cold in winter, and I’m sure some of the walking tracks could be interesting after rain.
Watch for the stinging plants
If you’ve spent much time in Queensland, you’ll know about the stinging plants. However, as a refresher, there are a huge number of these plants in the Bunya Mountains, and even their dead leaves can leave you with a rash and some pain. Both of our kids got done on separate walks, and they weren’t too happy.
You should absolutely be walking in enclosed shoes, and taking care what you touch!
Check the information centre out
Literally right next to Dandabah Camping area is the Bunya Mountains Information Centre, and its well and truly worth a look (before you go anywhere else). This gives you a heap of information on the walks, the history, Bunya Pines, animals in the area and everything else you need to know.
Would we recommend a visit to the Bunya Mountains?
We spent two amazing nights camped at Dandabah, and did a number of the walks through the forest. It reminded us of the Halls Gap area, or the Donnelly River area in some ways, but we thoroughly enjoyed it, and possibly even more so because of the initial comments made about not bothering to go.
If you are in Brisbane, or travelling through the area, make the effort to go to the Bunya Mountains. It’s an amazing, unique part of the world that was quite unexpected, and stunning.
Have you been to the Bunya Mountains? What did you think of them?