For decades Coolum Beach has been both popular day trip, and favoured holiday destination for many Australians looking to enjoy an iconic seaside atmosphere. The town itself is focused around the main beach strip, which is thankfully patrolled by lifesavers and so offers great swimming and arguably some of the best surfing breaks in Queensland. This quaint destination encompasses parks, a boardwalk, esplanade shops, and the surf lifesaver club overlooking the beach.
It also boasts the magnificent Mount Coolum, which greets you no matter which way you enter the Coolum Region. Rising to some 208 metres high, the dome shaped Mount Coolum is located in Mt Coolum National Park at the southern end of Coolum.
A volcanic rock, similar in many respects to the Glasshouse Mountains, the Mt Coolum National Park is a haven for over 700 identified plant species, including Eucalypt, coastal Wallum, Paperbark, and rare coastal Montane Heath and is home to a nest of Peregrine Falcons.
Sounds like a great place for a nature walk.
The walk up Mount Coolum is approximately 800metres and takes around 1-1.5 hours return for those of of moderate fitness. We do know of some super fit people who have run up the Mountain in 8 minutes! The walk is short but steep, adventurous and active children will be fine. If this sounds too much for you, the picturesque Mount Emu on the northern side of Coolum has panoramic views, but offers a much easier walk. Remember it’s essential to wear good walking shoes, hat and suncream when climbing Mount Coolum and the mornings are the best time when the weather is cool. Don’t forget to take plenty of water.
Mount Coolum is also a rock climbers dream. With grades upward of the 23 mark, the rock climbing crags are not for the faint hearted or weak of arm though, the east facing rock is where the action is.
Over the last five years Coolum Beach has experienced some major development, with new buildings for retail business and holiday apartments expanding its sights and sounds.
The district has quite a history too.
In “An Island Surrounded by Land”, the white settlement of Coolum is described by Windolf and Windolf (2004), as having occurred, unconnected by road to Maroochydore or Noosa. A beginning that some believe has provided Coolum with an enduring a friendly feeling of a country town, even though it now forms part of the dynamic tourist strip of the Sunshine Coast.
The first Europeans to pass through Coolum were castaways and shipwrecked sailors back in early 1800’s. A pastoral lease of 255 hectares was the first settled in 1871 by Grainger Ward. Ward ran upwards of 300 head of cattle. In 1881, Mark Blasdall selected his own lease of 252 hectares. Blasdall was the first to plan sugarcane in the area and to cut timber. He built two huts and a sawmill as well as clearing Coolum Creek, thus enabling steampships to enter to load timber and deliver supplies. By 1882 the steampships ‘Tadorna Radjah’ and ‘Gneering’ began to regularly travel from Brisbane to Coolum creek.
The first permanent settler of Coolum was William Perry-Keene and his family in 1905. His home was called ‘Green Hills’ and was situated at the corner of Beach Road, DAytona and Key West Avenues. By 1912 there were eight to 12 families living in the district. In 1909, Coulsin established a mail boat service on the Maroochy River. This provided the first regular connection between Coolum and the railhead at Yandina. In 1911, a horse-drawn tramline and punt loading facilities were built at Coolum Creek.
Construction of the first trafficable road to Coolum was undertaken between 1922 and 1925. This provided vehicle access from Coolum to Yandina. In 1923, the tramline to Coolum was opened and unscheduled passenger services began. Over this time considerable expansion of the sugarcane industry took place. Cane farming provided the main source of financial stability for the district until the advent of tourism in the 1960s.
Settlement in the 1950s and 60’s was often by working class Brisbane families who first built holiday cottages. Those looking for a quieter lifestyle joined the mix in the 70s.
If you think the aboriginal history of Coolum only endures in its place names, it does have a fascinating story to tell.
“The dreamtime story of the love affair of Maroochy & Coolum.”
Many years ago, in the Dreamtime, a beautiful Aboriginal girl named Maroochy was loved by another of her tribe, Coolum, a young warrior whose union to Maroochy has the approval of the Elders. One day a mighty warrior named Ninderry, who belonged to a fierce and warlike tribe, stole Maroochy while Coolum was out hunting.
When Coolum returned and found that Maroochy had been abducted, he set off in pursuit following their tracks. He caught up with Ninderry and the captive Maroochy before sundown. However, fearing to demand Maroochy’s return from such a fierce warrior as custom decreed, Coolum decided to use a trick. During the night he crept up to the camp where Ninderry lay sleeping, and quietly freeing Maroochy from her bonds, they fled back to their own Tribe’s territory on the coast.
When the sun rose the next morning, Ninderry woke to discover that Maroochy had escaped. Ninderry flew into a mighty rage, incensed all the more when he found tracks that Coolum had left as he aided Maroochy’s escape. Ninderry immediately set out after the fleeing young lovers, Coolum and Maroochy. When Ninderry caught sight of them he threw a huge nulla (club) at Coolum. The nulla knocked off Coolum’s head, which rolled into the sea and became Mudjimba Island. Coolum’s headless body turned into stone and became Mt Coolum.
Beeral, the Spirit God, had been watching these events from his crystal throne in the sky and was deeply incensed by Ninderry’s foul deed, and struck down Ninderry and turned him into stone and he became Ninderry Crest. After all, Coolum and Maroochy’s union had the sanction of their Elders and should have been respected.
Filled with sorrow at the loss of her beloved Coolum, Maroochy fled to the Blackall Ranges where she wept so much that her tears flowed down the mountain range and became the Maroochy River. Eventually Maroochy decided she wanted to find Coolum’s spirit that had gone out of his body, and so that she could search for it, she changed herself into a swan.
She still goes up and down the river and flies to swamps and lakes in her search, and so do her children and their children. An excerpt from In the Tracks of a Rainbow by Robin Wells
So next time you’re looking for somewhere interesting to spend the day. Why not give Coolum a go!