Take a walk on the wild side

The chaos of COVID-19 has turned us into health conscious housebound hermits who are avid supporters of cleanliness and experts on social distancing.  After many weeks indoors, this weekend gives a small opportunity to open the shutters and step outside as the government takes the first step in relaxing restrictions across the state.

So what does this mean for us?  It means you can take a walk in the beautiful Bunya Mountains National Park, you can have a picnic with your family at one of our region’s great parks (BYO picnic) or you can grab your bike and ride along the Kingaroy to Kilkivan Rail Trail or Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.

Please remember that social distancing guidelines apply outdoors as well as in.

  • Stay 1.5 metres from other people.
  • Wash your hands after touching surfaces like gates, fences, and door handles.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoid other people when possible, and don’t gather in large groups.
  • Don’t sit at picnic tables if you can’t effectively sanitize them first.
  • Remember that there is no sit-down service in restaurants at the moment, but you can always enjoy takeaway.

Travelling with family and friends who are not part of your immediate household is not allowed and you must only travel within 50km of your home.

For specific information relating to the Bunya Mountains please see https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/parks/bunya-mountains/

Bunya Mountain Accommodation Centre

Bunya Avenue, Bunya Mountains QLD 4405

Tel: (07) 4668 3126

https://bunyamountains.com.au

Bunya Mountains Horse Drawn Tours

Bunya Mountains Horse Drawn Tours has been operating at the top of the Bunya Mountains in Queensland for 30 years.

Tours start near the Bunya Mountains general store and range from a short 10 minute trip to a 2 hour trip into private rainforest. Operating mostly on weekends and school holidays, but will operate on week days if there are enough people. The horses can pull around 8 adults.

Bookings are recommended.

Phone: (07) 4668 3115

Nuts over Bunya Nuts

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The Australian Aboriginals knew a good thing when they tasted it and consequently in early times would set aside any tribal differences to travel for hundreds of miles to feast on this native bush food. I am in fact talking about the ‘Bunya Nut’. These giant cannon ball-sized pine cones contain between 50 to 100 nuts and weigh as much as 10 kilograms.  So you really don’t want to be hanging around under a Bunya Nut Tree during the fruiting season. The cones are covered in spikes and fall from towering heights of 30-45 metres. Heads up!!  Although nuts are produced each year, traditionally a bumper crop is produced every three years. The fruiting season occurs from December to March.
It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like the taste of Bunya Pine nuts. The flavour is described similar to a starchy potato or chestnut. Ask a local the best way to cook a Bunya Nut and they will all tell you something different. Either way the kernel must be removed from the shell before being boiled in salty water or placed in the fire for cooking. Personally I like to throw mine in a pot of water used to cook a nice piece of corned beef and then smother it with butter when it’s done. Yummo!
Believe it or not the humble Bunya Nut has been used in cooking since the beginning of time and is fast becoming one of the most popular forms of bush tucker. Today this bush food can be found in a variety of recipes including pancakes, biscuits and breads to casseroles and hommus. Who would have thought you could be finishing your dinner this Christmas with a Steamed Bunya Nut pudding served with brandy custard and wattle seed ice cream.
So where can you find this bush tucker superfood? Simply follow the bunya trees along the Great Bunya Drive through the South Burnett and venture to the native origins of the Bunya Nut, deep into the subtropical rainforest of the beautiful Bunya Mountain National Park.
The Bunya Mountain National Park is 2.5 to 3 hours from Brisbane and 4 hours from both coasts. The Great Bunya Drive (pictured below) is a 390km self-drive tour which runs from Toowoomba to Gympie, with one of the highlights being the Bunya Mountains.

 

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Cooking with Bunya Nuts

Shelling

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Place the nuts in a jug or bowl and cover with boiling water for 2-3 minutes.  This softens the shells making it easier to cut and makes the brown skin surrounding the nut, stick to the inside of the shell allowing the nut to be removed cleanly.  Use a strong short blade knife or Stanly knife and slice down the length of the nut.  The softened shell will peel away from the nut.  Slice the nut in half and discard the centre pith which can have a bitter after taste.

Boiling

Place the nuts in boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes.  Cool slightly before shelling to extract the edible nut.  To make a nut meal: place in blender when cold and process to bread crumb  consistency.

To enhance the flavor the nuts can be boiled in the water used for the cooking of corned meat.

Frying/Saute

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Used shelled nuts (raw or boiled) and toss lightly in a hot pan with melted butter or your favorite oil. Be careful not to overcook as the nut flesh will become hard and leathery.

BBQ/Campfire

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Turn the nuts frequently for even cooking. When cooking directly on the fire, the use of hot ashes gives better results as the shells can ignite on hot coals of flames.

Wake Up in Wine Country

There’s no better feeling than escaping the city on a Friday afternoon for a weekend away discovering the cellar doors, restaurants and cool natural places of Southern Queensland Country’s wine trails. Here is a weekend intinary taking in the South Burnett Wine Trail.

It’s so easy to wake up in wine country!

Friday

Take an early mark and hit the highway out of town. En route stop in at Blackbutt’s famous Wood-fired Bakery for some crusty bread and a sweet treat and Taste South Burnett in Kingaroy to stock up on  local goodies – olives, olive oil, caperberries and their hand-made fudge.

Check in at Crane Wines B&B overlooking the cool Booie Range. Do a cellar door tasting with winemaker Bernie and select a bottle to enjoy with dinner.

Settle in and cook your own barbecue (Crane’s BBQ packs include beef, chicken or Barkers Creek Pork, salad, potato bake and dessert).

Retire to your verandah to enjoy the twilight views over the vines. Star gazers may like to book a night sky tour with Kingaroy Observatory

Saturday

Head into Kingaroy for a hearty country breakfast at  local favourite Utopia Café.

After breakfast, pop into Kingaroy Art Gallery to catch an exhibition by local artists and don’t miss their gallery shop, a hub for artisan jewellery, ceramics, textiles and woodwork.

En route to lunch, drop into local icon The Peanut Van for a range of delicious locally grown flavoured peanuts.

Lunch is 10 minutes out of town at Kingsley Grove Estate, which offers cellar door wine tastings with winemaker Simon,  delicious house-made wood-fired pizzas and delectable wine ice cream handmade by Pat – the perfect finish!

For the afternoon head back to Cranes to relax on your verandah with a good book or put on your walking shoes and head for the trails of Yarraman State Forest.

For dinner take a lead from the locals who rave about the views and food at Cassis at Booie, just a few minutes’ drive or 10 minutes walk from your cottage (take a torch if you plan to walk!)

Sunday

Relax on your verandah overlooking the vineyards while you cook your own breakfast;  Crane’s breakfast pack includes country cured bacon, local sausages, eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms.

Mid-morning check out and make your way home via the northern South Burnett Wine Trail visiting the cellar doors at Clovely Estate, Moffatdale Ridge, Bridgeman Downs and Dusty Hill Wines.

On the way home:

  • Nature lovers may like to visit Wooroolin Wetland – a brilliant walking and birdwatching spot. Photographers will love the eerie stands of trees in the tea tree-stained water.
  • Ask Cranes Winery to pack you their famous Lazy Lunch Picnic Basket brimming with local gourmet goodies and a bottle of house bubbles, then make for Lake Barambah which offers peaceful waterside picnic spots and great freshwater fishing.
  • Other lunch options include a top counter meal at The Wondai Hotel, lunch overlooking  the vines at Dusty Hill’s Pendergast’s Tavern.

Take your time and savour the South Burnett.

Enjoy!

WORDS: Jane Hodges

BUNYA MOUNTAINS MARKETS

Bunya Mountains Markets are a unique experience for all. Be thrilled by the spectacular array of homemade, local crafts and delicacies to taste and take home. Sample the local bunya nut meals and snacks such as bunya nut scones, carrot and bunya nut cake, beef and bunya nut pies or their famous Bunya burgers with, you guessed it,.home made beef and bunya nut patties. Bunya Mountains Markets are open 9am to 2pm on the last Sunday of each month. At 1100 metres above sea level, enjoy the markets and the cool green of the mountains. Explore the 40 kilometres of spectacular rainforest National Park walking tracks. Meet the local inhabitants – peacefully grazing wallabies and spectacular array of birdlife including bower birds, crimson rosellas, king parrots just to name a few. And if you can’t leave, Bunya Mountains Accommodation Centre offers cosy chalets. Refuel your spirit. Stay the night!