Mount Coolum is arguably the Sunshine Coast’s most treasured natural landmark.
Originally formed as a volcano millions of years ago, the dome-shaped peak in Mount Coolum National Park rises 208-metres above sea level, delivering those who reach the summit panoramic views of the Sunshine Coast, stretching from Double Island Point, across the Glasshouse Mountains and all the way to Caloundra.
The walk along the established track is 1.6 kilometres return, and takes about two hours, depending on the walking pace of your group – and how many times the kids want to stop, of course.
The hike should only be done by those with reasonable fitness levels – but the track is often dotted with families with kids as young as three ambling up the rocky steps, so it’s a great walk for all ages, and it’s easily done in sneakers. This is not a pram walk however, so it’s best to have a carrier for wee ones.
The walk starts off through native bushland before the steps become steeper and the path turns into a rougher stony track. For this reason, it’s advised to avoid it in wet weather as this section can be very slippery.
Most of the track isn’t shaded, so doing the climb in the morning or late afternoon are better options to keep kids out of the hot sun. The view can be obscured by the midday haze of the sun, too.
If you head to the peak later in the day, you’ll have the bonus of catching a magical sunset – and also a few mozzies, so pack some bug protection.
Reaching the top is a jaw-dropping experience, and there’s a large flat section to marvel at the ocean and mountains in the distance.
This part of the Sunshine Coast is also popular for wildlife spotting. Mount Coolum National Park’s cliffs are home to nesting peregrine falcons – one of 25 to 35 known pairs in south-east Queensland. You may also get a glimpse of echidnas, honeyeaters, northern brown bandicoots and grey-headed flying-foxes. If you are climbing in winter or spring, be sure to look out to the ocean for the migrating whales.
If you have some aeronautical enthusiasts in the group, Mount Coolum is the perfect spot to watch planes land and take-off from Sunshine Coast Airport.
Coming down the mountain can be quite steep in some parts, so if you have younger kids, they may need some assistance.
The track and summit can get busy with visitors, so always keep the kids close so they don’t veer off the main path.
How to get there
Head to the Mount Coolum car park which is accessed from Tanah Street West (off David Low Way), 3.5 km south of Coolum Beach. Off-road parking is available on the corner of Jarnahill Drive and Tanan Street West. Follow the National Parks and Wildlife signs and directions to the walking track.
What to bring
Hats, enclosed shoes, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, plenty of water (pack bottles away so the kids can be hands-free), snacks for little ones, and a camera.
There are no toilets at Mount Coolum. The closest ones are in the adjacent suburb of Yaroomba (about a five-minute drive) and you will need to ask one of the local shops for keys. There are also toilets at Point Arkwright and Coolum beaches.
By Josephine Agostino