Russell Park

Bunya mountains2.jpeg

Russell Park, which is situated within the Bunya Mountains landscape, is a 455ha freehold conservation reserve which was gifted to Council in 1927 from the Russell Family for the recreation of the public. The park and its surrounds hold significant environmental, cultural and social value.

The Bunya Mountains are a place of sacred, historical and cultural significance to Aboriginal peoples from southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. The Bunya Mountains were and are still, the largest stand of Bunya trees in the world, and the Bunya nuts were a sacred resource that brought many tribes and clans together for great gatherings. These gatherings were arguably one of the largest and most significant gatherings for Aboriginal people up until their cessation in the 1870s.  


Key Features

Grassland Balds 

The grassland communities known as the grassland ‘balds’ are thought to be a relic vegetation community from a time when the climate was cooler and drier surrounding the last ice age 10 000 years ago (Fairfax et al. 2009). The grassland ‘balds’ ‘occur within rainforest and eucalypt forest in a range of topographic positions and soil depths on a uniform geology’ (Fensham & Fairfax 1996). Grasslands have been described as Australia’s most threatened ecosystem throughout south-eastern Australia, and the balds are listed as an endangered regional ecosystem. The key factor in the maintenance of the grassland balds is believed  to  be  Aboriginal  fire.

Fishers Lookout

Fishers lookout is a spectacular outlook over the Bunya Mountains. A 350 square meter elevated viewing platform provides a better vantage point to appreciate the beauty of the mountains and provides safer access for visitors. 

Bunya Pines (Araucaria bidwillii)

The Bunya tree is a tall tree growing 30-45 metres in height, with a straight, rough-barked trunk, and a very distinctive symmetrical, dome-shaped crown.

Bunya trees produce large, fruiting cones (football sized) and generally mature in summer through to early autumn. 

Aboriginal people historically used the Bunya Mountains as a meeting place for the various tribes scattered throughout Queensland and New South Wales. They feasted seasonally on the bunya nuts collected from the bunya pine trees. 

Walking Tracks

There are approximately 5 km of walking tracks in Russell Park. The tracks are class 4 tracks and include; 

- Carbine Chute - 2km (1hr) 

- Chute No. 3 - 3.4km (1.5hrs) 

- Cujevoi Falls - 4.2km (2hrs) 

- Fishers Lookout Circuit - 4.1km (2.5hrs) 

Partnership with Bunya Peoples Aboriginal Corporation (BPAC)

The Bunya Mountains Murri Rangers maintain areas of traditional importance and help conserve and protect the natural and cultural resources of the Mountains. 

Their duties include managing wildlife, cultural sites and threatened grassland bald ecosystems through using traditional burning practices. The rangers also engage Indigenous communities and youth about the cultural heritage and traditional connections to country on the Bunya Mountains. 

Since 2010 a partnership between the Western Downs Regional Council and the Bunya Peoples’ Aboriginal Corporation has aimed at maintaining these values through on ground natural resource and cultural heritage management predominately within Russell Park.  

BPAC in turn have provide significant natural resource management activities throughout the park including fire management, native flora and fauna monitoring and management, cultural heritage management, track and infrastructure development and maintenance and invasive species management. They have also been a partner in fire management across the broader region, as well as track maintenance and invasive species management across the wider Bunya Landscape, particularly in QPWS managed land.  

Major Threats

Since the decline of the Aboriginal gatherings in the Bunya Mountains in the 1870’s, the absence of this intensive and strategic fire management has led to a significant and decline in the extent and health of the grassland balds. Fire is an integral part of maintain the diversity and composition of both the grassland balds and open eucalypt woodlands of Russell Park and the wider Bunya landscape 


In 2018 QPWS Rangers identified that dieback of Bunya Pines was being witnessed. Through soil testing it was confirmed the Phytophthora multivora sp was causing the die back. Since the Council has witnessed similar dieback in Russell Park and soil testing again has confirmed multivora presence within the park. Since then, a Council has implemented strict quarantine and management protocols to limit the impact of this invasive pathogen on Russell Park ecosystems.


Foreign biosecurity matter also poses a significant risk to the general ecosystem health of the bunya landscape. Priority weed species found within or directly adjacent to the park pose a considerable threat to the park's values. High priority species include Madeira Vine, Cats Claw Creeper, Lantana and Giant Rats Tail Grass.


Pest species such as Feral Pigs and Feral Cats are a key threat to landscape function and rare and threatened species within the park. With Feral Pigs being the predominant threat, particularly with regard to the recent discovery of Bunya Pine dieback due to phytophthora. Feral Pig are seen as a main vector of spread due to their foraging behaviours. Pig baiting and trapping is conducted in conjunction with WDRC, QPWS and the Murri Rangers to coordinate a landscape scale approach. 


Climate variability also poses a threat particularly to alpine environments, where changes to temperature extreme and other climate events reduce ecosystem functionality.  

Current Projects

Council is currently in the development of a joint stakeholder project plan to address some of the knowledge gaps associated with phytopthora die back and feral pig management in Russell Park.
Key stakeholders involved include QPWS, SQ Landscapes, DAF and BPAC.