With the government saying that Queensland is open for Queenslanders, we decided to make the most of it and venture into the north of the state, beginning in the outback and then heading to the coast. We started with a short drive to the South Burnett region, about 3 hours north of Brisbane.
26 July: Off to Kingaroy
We woke up early in the morning so had plenty of time to relax, pray and drink a cup of tea before getting out of bed. After a shower and last-minute packing, we meandered to the bakery down the road to collect breakfast – and given there were only four almond croissants left, we were grateful to nab two of them. Yum!
Gotta love online church! We were able to join in the service before hitting the road for our first destination, Hillview Cottages just north of Kingaroy. With all the rain, we had decided to change our original plans. Instead of going on the windy road via Mt Glorious, we made our way past Wivanhoe Dam and Esk. Going through Nanango, the fourth oldest town in Queensland, we were shocked at the huge yards full of old cars used for spares as we entered town. The attractive carvings promoting the rich forestry of the local heritage played some part in redeeming the town.
The peanut silos are a central icon in Kingaroy (meaning Red Ant), emphasising the importance of peanuts in the history of the area. The pig abattoir is its other claim to fame, apart from the fact that it was also the stomping ground of the renowned Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
Our check in with Daniel was friendly and smooth, and very soon we were unpacking all our stuff (enough for 6 weeks!) and settling into our home for the night. A gorgeous old church relocated from one of the nearby towns – having been used as a grain store and a tea house before being converted into unique accommodation. The décor was in keeping with the history of the building although the rather more modern spa bath was a welcome addition.
Whilst we enjoyed watching the stormy skies from the windows of our cottage, the inclement weather meant that our night of star gazing at the Kingaroy Observatory was cancelled. Let’s hope that we get to see some stars over the next few weeks as we head into the middle of nowhere.
Fortunately we didn’t stay disappointed for too long as very soon we were sipping red wine in front of the fire. And the predicted storm hit with a vengeance! No wonder James abandoned the viewing of the stars and planets for the night and told us to batten down the hatches!
The lack of insulation in our little church made for a cold night, with the aircon and fire having difficulty coping. At times it sounded as though the building was going to be lifted up and carried across the fields.
27 July: Kingaroy to Maidenwell
Unusually for us, we decided to have a very lazy morning. After tea in bed, Glenda couldn’t resist another soak in the huge spa bath before breakfast. It was just before 10am that we hit the road for a drive up to Goomeri via Wondai and Murgon. Following the road, there is an old railway line that was recently converted to a bicycle trail and we saw a few people out on it.
Goomeri turned out to be a wonderful surprise and worth the out and back trip. According to the guidebooks, their claim to fame is an annual pumpkin festival and they also house the “lest we forget” clock. In my opinion, their best drawcard has to be the Goomeri Bakery. We found it almost impossible to choose, but eventually we both resorted to a chocolate muffin – the lightest, most chocolaty cake ever!! And then we went back for some sourdough bread for the evening.
We had a fairly social time in little Goomeri. We spent some time chatting to the lady that owns and is the resident artist at one of the local art shops – she told us how quiet things had been since November as that’s when the last lot of Victorians had been through. That is, until about a month ago when the influx started up again from down south. As the bakery wasn’t allowing dine in, everyone was hanging around down the street eating their goodies – so we struck up a long conversation with a couple from one of the nearby towns.
After a stopover back in Kingaroy to support the famous Peanut Van and stock up on groceries for the next few days, we ventured out to our accommodation in nearby Maidenwell. After chatting to our very friendly hosts Peter & Deb, we went down to our “cottage” and wow!! We are going to be very, very comfortable here for the next few nights! Hopefully we can tear ourselves away to go on our planned hikes of the nearby Bunya Mountains. If these strong winds continue, we may be tempted to stay in!
28 July: Hiking in the Bunya Mountains
It was a frosty morning, with temperatures below zero, but after a few days of rain and cloud, the skies were blue. This made a morning of bush walking inviting, so a little after 9am, we were on our way to the Bunya Mountains. There were some gravel sections on the road out there and some parts were a little windy, but it was a relatively easy 30-minute drive. As we entered the little village, we were met by quaint cabins and hundreds of kangaroos munching away on the grass beside the road. The carpark was empty so we looked forward to a quiet hike.
The 10km circuit was easy and uneventful. We came across a handful of other groups and stopped off to look at the bunya pines and other trees marked along the way. It was so good to be in the bush surrounded by sounds of the birdlife and wind blowing through the treetops. Whilst the track was muddy due to the rain over recent days, the waterfalls were almost non-existent and we couldn’t even work out where the water was supposed to be when we arrived at “Big Falls” lookout.
Surprised at how full the carpark was by the time we arrived back at our car and noticing the crowds at the café, we were happy to take the ½ drive back to our home – Dreambird Cottage – for lunch. Yummy smoked salmon sandwiches followed by bananas and strawberries topped with a scoop of ice cream. What could be better – other than the soak in the outdoor spa that followed?!
28 July: More hiking in the Bunya Mountains
Another frosty morning and unfortunately this time not so clear. As we left the cottage, the mountains were shrouded in mist, so we weren’t holding out much hope for a walk, let alone the promised views. Nevertheless, we headed to Burtons Well campground for the start of our hike. It was amazing how different the landscape was from the previous day. As we climbed out of the car, there was a light rain / mist and it was pretty cold, so we were very grateful for our down jackets, beanies and gloves. The trail was muddy and pretty slippery so we were appreciative of our new hiking boots.
Sadly, the views we should’ve enjoyed on reaching the summit of Mt Kiangarow were non-existent. The howling winds brought waves of mist up form the valley below. The path itself was pretty, with lots of green moss and lantana along the way.
Despite the ½ hour drive to reach the mountains, we decided it really wasn’t worth doing another walk in the inclement weather, so we took a drive back down the mountain. As we were back at the cottage well before lunch, we had the opportunity to go for a run, something we hadn’t done since leaving Brisbane. The 12km return trip to the Coomba Falls (no falls but a pretty water hole) was very pleasant – undulating with a VERY steep hill out of the falls. We figured we deserved a relaxing afternoon following the hard work. And the evening was spent in the outdoor spa watching the stars. Glenda even saw her first falling star!!