Easter 2001 saw the establishment of a very different tourism destination on the Bunya Mountains as one couple’s passion for arts, food and the forest met.

Kay and Terry Joyce had moved to the mountain community a few years before from the Sunshine Coast. Their move was brought about by a connection to the mountains forged over a decade earlier when they began indulging their passion for hiking in the beautiful unique areas of the Australian bush. They both also share a passion for teaching in the field of Environmental Science with Kay also teaching textiles, nutrition and food science.

The Joyces’ background and interest in these areas merged when they developed the concept for what became the Bunya Forest Gallery and Tearoom. In essence, a visit to Bunya Forest Gallery is an interpretive experience. Guests can delight in diverse and beautiful works created by local artisans with all pieces revealing some aspect of the environment in which they are displayed. Each year, the gallery conducts an ‘Artist in Focus’ program consisting of four mini exhibitions covering the periods of April, June/July, September/October and December/January. This year, contemporary ceramic artist, Cathy Keys began the program with her exhibition: Bunya, followed by Carmel Nott (printmaker, Kingaroy), Meg Stevenson (clay and glass, Dalby) and Kay Joyce (textiles, Bunya Mountains).

Since moving to the mountains, Kay has embarked on another creative journey. She works with textiles to celebrate the beauty of the natural world and the wonder of the interactive ecosystems on the planet. Kay produces rich textures and colours in works that vary from the abstract to the realism of the forest in Goblins Playground which will feature in her exhibition in December.

Visitors can complement their artwork viewing with a dining experience to indulge their taste buds. The Tearoom is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday for dinner from 6.30pm with group bookings for functions including high teas by arrangement. Day and evening menus showcase the unique flavours and aromas of Australian Bush foods. Kay has spent many hours developing her recipes with most dishes made in house using raw ingredients.

Her signature Bunya Scones enable the diner to select from a variety of jams such as Davidson Plum or Lilly Pilly accompanied by authentic clotted cream. The menu provides delectable treats for the discerning diner. Coffees are served with Native Peppermint Fudge while Bunya Cakes feature glacé Sandpaper Figs. The mains on the menu are Lamb and Quandong Pie with Bunya Shortcrust Pastry and Poached Chicken with Macadamia Salad. To top it all off, desserts comprise delights such as Wattleseed Pavlova.

Kay has made most of her dishes gluten free and is happy to adapt dishes for special dietary requirements. Bunya Forest Gallery and Tearoom is best appreciated in person during a visit amongst the ancient trees of the Bunya Mountains. Bunya Forest Gallery and Tearoom is located in 14 Bunya Avenue, Bunya Mountains.

Words & images by James Barclay