From Bunya Park to Blossoming Wildlife Sanctuary

By Kim Pantano 

Visitors to Bunya Park around, feeding and patting the resident Kangaroos. Image credit: Remembering Bunya Park Facebook Community

Many locals will be familiar with Kumbartcho Sanctuary and Nursery in Eatons Hill. However, did you know that the site actually used to be a wildlife sanctuary and tourist attraction called Bunya Park, which operated in North Brisbane from 1968 -1994?

We are lucky enough to have tracked down founding volunteer of the Kumbartcho Sanctuary and Nursery, Kim Pantano who has given us a wonderful account of how this beautiful Flora and Fauna haven came to fruition and was actually saved from widescale development in the 90’s.


Bunya Park The Closure

This iconic Brisbane tourist attraction was set to close in late 1994 and the 25acre site was earmarked by developers to become a 56 lot housing development. This would have been a tragic loss to the wider community. Fortunately, the Pine Rivers Shire Councillor at the time, Graeme Ashworth and his wife Betty-Anne, were keen to preserve the site. Graham worked with the local community, who banded together to lobby all levels of government to have the site saved. Key members of the community who galvanised local support were Gary and Lisa Mitchell, Peter McLachlan, John and Rowan Lyndon, and Kim Pantano.

After 12 months of negotiation between the community, the developer and Council a resolution was achieved. The site would only be able to have 16 housing blocks and the remainder of the site was returned to community ownership through the Council as a designated fauna and flora reserve. It was a wonderful win for the community as the site offered not only the opportunity to extend and enhance the Riparian rainforest along the South Pine River, but also engage the wider community into the importance of our native fauna and flora species.

Feeding the Emus! Image credit Remembering Bunya Park Community

Bunya Park Moving Forward

When the site was returned to Council in early 1997, the rebirth of the venue began. 

Whilst it was empty it had become overgrown and vandalized. The volunteers came to the site to rediscover overgrown areas and make them part of a community nature hub. In 1998, the Pine Rivers Community nursery was established to propagate local native plant species and encourage the community to plant them instead of introduced species. The nursery operates as a not for profit association and has gone from strength to strength since its inception. The site was subsequently  renamed Kumbartcho -the local indigenous word for Hoop Pine.

The 80 volunteers who are part of Kumbartcho are the back bone, which makes it the special place it is. The Council works in partnership with the volunteers to make it a hub of community-based activity, environmental education, passive and active recreation and native plant propagation. 

The site is open to the public 7 days per week from dawn till dusk. The nursery and environment centre have limited opening hours. 

For more info about Kumbartcho, go to www.kumbartcho.org.au. We hope to see you soon!

By Kim Pantano

Stay tuned next month for a great story from Amanda Dunne who lived at Bunya Park Wildlife Sanctuary from 1985-88. If you have fond memories of Bunya Park, why not head online and join the ’Remembering Bunya Park’ Facebook Group? 

https://www.facebook.com/rememberingbunyapark/

Kumbartcho even has its own Fairy Garden complete with resident Gnomes!

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