I immediately liked this ‘anti-tourist’ track. What a gem, I couldn’t believe it had taken me this long to get around to doing it. It was interesting, wonderfully varied and quiet. It doesn’t take long for me to get withdrawal symptoms when I’ve been away from the natural world, so the silence and dappled sunlight of the forest were deeply satisfying. The heart shaped leaves of macarangas were aglow above me and casuarina needles shimmered under the thin rays of sunlight filtering through. I felt at home. My soul sings when I’m on a trail. And I was solo, I could run all the way to the top (hypothetically that is) or take it slow, it didn’t matter to anyone but me.
As the trail ascended the vegetation became drier and more open and the understorey on the rocky slopes became dominated by hops bushes, with their distinct blunted leaves and “cluster of cherries” winged flowers. Fallen casuarina needles blanketed the ground along the track in some spots, while higher up bright green lomandras and straw coloured grasses offset the dark volcanic boulders.
When the trail gained the ridge I ducked off right to an outcrop with impressive views to the west – Mt Ninderry, Mt Eerwah and Mt Cooroy; and the checkerboard of farmland across the floodplains.
Just prior to the last leg, there is a lovely sort of saddle, where banksias, philothecas and acacias were already blooming, to my delight. I’m a bit of a plant nerd in training, and I was disappointed to have forgotten my reference books to i.d. them properly. Good thing I had my camera that day. I actually have no idea how long it took me to walk the trail as I spent so long photographing everything around me on the way. But I wasn’t wearing a watch anyway.
Reminiscent of the trails of the Glasshouse Mountains, the final section to the summit was rocky and surrounded by a tunnel-forest of casuarinas – I felt like a hobbit (ok, I always do, I’m 5 foot not-much) - then all too soon I was emerging at the fence that surrounds the summit tower….I was almost disappointed that there was no more trail, no more up.
The top of Coolum mountain (Mountain? Really? It’s only 200 metres high) is actually a plateau, long and wide and mostly covered in the wonderful wallum heath that flanks much of the mountain. The ocean vistas are truly spectacular, particularly on a
winter’s day, so I captured a nice panorama of the view east and south, all the way to Mooloolaba and Point Cartwright. As I wandered I snapped a few more images of the peaks to the west, and the distant but distinct Queensland . Around about then I noticed, thanks to the angle of the winter sun, that p.m. must have crept up on me, it was well past nap-time. I wandered back to the tourists and disappeared behind the tower, grinning as I heard someone say “where’s she going?”, and started to descend. Glasshouse Mountains