National Parks Minister Steve Dickson officially re-opened Mt Coolum’s hugely popular summit walk on Friday following a $525,000 upgrade.
Although locals have been enjoying the improved walking track for the past couple of months, Friday’s official opening was a chance to recognise the support and patience of locals and tourists while the multi-stage works were completed.
Mr Dickson, who said the walk was already getting high praise, was joined by Member for Maroochy and State Speaker, Fiona Simpson and Coolum State School students for a tour of the new track.
“It’s a steep walk, but the reward at the top is worth it,” Mr Dickson said.
“Mt Coolum is an iconic Sunshine Coast destination for tourists and locals with views stretching to Maroochydore, Yandina and Noosa.
“The Newman Government is committed to opening up Queensland’s beautiful National Parks for everyone to enjoy.
“Now the 50,000-plus visitors who come to Mt Coolum each year will have safer walks on tracks which are much more environmentally sound.”
Mr Dickson said the $525,000 upgrade was necessary to address safety and environmental concerns after the access route to the summit became seriously eroded.
“Approximately 380 tonnes of rock was hand-placed during the project. Heli-lifts were used over four separate operations to carry 120 tonnes of rock up onto the steeper sections,” he said.
“More than 500 new rock steps have been constructed, as well as drains, passing bays, rock seats and viewing points, while eroded areas have been rehabilitated.
“It will stop gullies forming after rain and ensure the track is sustainable for years to come.
“The design and materials had to stand up to rigorous usage, while protecting the mountain habitat and other natural features.
“Most of the track work is dry-stone construction with locally sourced rocks, while new signs help visitors to better enjoy the site.
“We know people have been itching to try the whole walk, and their cooperation was appreciated while workers finished each phase.”
The entire project has taken almost two years to complete, with the first phase of repairing the track following extreme weather completed late in 2011.
“The work to upgrade the track within the Mount Coolum National Park by the state government was appreciated and it is hoped that there will be additions, improvements and ongoing maintenance to the whole Mount Coolum National Park, including both of the Marcoola sections,” commented Coolum District Coast Care Vice President Tony Gibson.
“I would like to acknowledge the support of Fiona Simpson and the work of many members of Coolum District Coast Care, like Joan and Peter Brown, who have recognised the importance of preserving the park.”
Standing at 208 metres tall, the soaring rainforest-clad dome of Mount Coolum is one of the Sunshine Coast’s most iconic landmarks. The area is ecologically important with over 680 wildflower varieties found on the mountainside, as well as rare plants such as montane heath, coastal wallum and paperbark trees.
The Summit Walk is recommended for people with good fitness levels and takes around two hours return, following a rough 800 metre trail right to the top of Mount Coolum.
Walkers should wear sturdy shoes or boots and take bottled water. More information is available at www.nprsr.qld.gov.au.