Thursday, 13 October 2011

Sunset on Mt Peregian

Emu Mountain from Point Perry, Coolum Beach
 Last Sunday afternoon, after napping on and off most of the day, I suddenly felt a desperate need to get out and about for some action before the working week started all over again. Hm, what was close by and wouldn’t mess with my energy too much…..Mount Peregian! I needed to justify my decision to exert myself after a fatigue-ish weekend.. The peak is only a few kms from my home, and at 97 metres above sea level it’s not even a real mountain anyway, wandering up with my camera would be quite do-able. I threw water, said camera, coconut choc muffins (priorities!) and thermos in my pack and charged off for a quick and easy mini-adventure.

Tiny yellow goodenias greeted me at the National Parks gate, and I hoped there would be more wildflowers along the way. The late afternoon sunlight bathed the heath, the dark grey rock, and me in comforting golden warmth. I couldn’t help myself, I immediately started skipping uphill, snapping off pictures of flowering hakeas, philothecas and phebaliums. I got a little excited over the melaleuca blossoms that were backlit and glowing crimson, like beacons above the more subdued low heath species.

The main Mt Peregian trail is such a gentle incline, you hardly even realise you are going uphill. And there’s much to distract you along the way - the ocean to the east, the mountains and ranges to the west, views north all the way to Noosa and beyond, and the delicate wildflowers alongside the track. Also dotting the slopes is the endangered Mt Emu sheoak (Allocasuarina emuina), found nowhere else but here on the hill and a handful of other small pockets nearby.

When you reach the summit (which doesn’t take long), Mt Coolum suddenly looms close by in the south, and I could easily make out the top half of Mt Crookneck/Coonowrin much further afield in the Glasshouse Mountains. Mt Ninderry is the obvious bump to the south west and the ever present triangle of Mt Cooroy is easily spotted in the north west. To the east, it's ocean, ocean, ocean!

Since I found out that Peregian is an Indigenous word for emu, I’ve often imagined what it would be like to spot them in these parts. Apparently they once roamed in abundance on the Coast, but we humans pushed them out long ago with roads, developments and farms. The summit views tell the story; you can see across areas of national park surrounding the mountain to the harsh edges where the housing estates cut into the wallum landscape.  I shuddered as I looked west to the expanding Peregian Springs development, and thought of the people who fought tirelessly to have so much of the surrounding land gazetted for conservation. I wondered if Emu Mountain would have a house on top of it today if it weren’t for them.

I had chosen my timing well. A group of whale monitoring scientists were making their way down the mountain as I was nearing the summit. This meant that I had the peak to myself for the sunset. Hot chai, a homemade muffin and a summit sunset; it doesn't take much to make me glad. It's a little different to the old days of adventure racing and marathons, but gratitude goes a long way to keeping my physical and mental health on track (mountain track, that is...)

I snapped away as the horizon glowed with silvery-gold rimmed clouds, and then stopped to watch as the sky behind them turned pink, then lilac. The close-to-full moon had already risen in the east and was high up above the sea.

But getting back to the whales, I happened to turn and glance north at the exact moment that one breached, what a bonus! Emu Mountain is another local gem really, super easy, super accessible (just off David Low Way), and with many added extras like wildflowers and whale watching. And a rather nice and rather extensive sea view. There's more than one trail to the summit, the other starting from the Emu Mountain estate on the southern side; and a few other trails around the base.

 I've not seen a great number of fauna species up there yet, but I was on the mountain for the lunar eclipse earlier this year and happened to see a fox come down the trail right by me. As feral and destructive as they are, it was still pretty special to see one slink past me at 4am as I sat in the darkness watching the moon disappear. I've heard but not quite seen wallabies, and if you were to sit still for a bit you'd definitely spot birds, skinks and probably snakes.

But anyway, it was getting darker and darker so I skipped on down back to the car. When I'm better I'm planning to run from home to the mountain, up and down it, around it, and back home again via the beach.
Watch this space.

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