The adventurous should try this alternative way up Mt Coolum
Mt Coolum is a popular hill at Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast. The normal 1.6 km return walk is fun and a little challenging, but few people know of the alternative ways up Mt Coolum, including the very interesting caves walk that starts from the normal spot and heads up past 2 overhangs, the caves and involves a scramble and a short climb to make it up to the top.
Note: This walk includes scrambling and climbing via a fairly well defined but unmarked track. You should be a fit and experienced walker who understands that you are doing this walk at your own risk.
About Mt Coolum
This hill rises 208 meters from the coastal plain at Coolum. It is roughly circular in shape with steep cliffs on most sides. For locals, it has long been a popular walk and the climb to the top has several rough and ready tracks up the mountain. In 2012, the main track was reopened as a well-constructed set of steps, over 500, leading up to the top. Since then, it has been a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, with many people running up the path. As a result, few people know the alternative ways up.
This walk starts at the same point as the main track up Mt Coolum, which is the Mt Coolum Car Park. The track itself is unmarked and while you will see signs telling you to stay on the track at some other locations the caves track is not fenced off at all.
Despite the signs, there are plenty of paths up Mt Coolum
When you start the walk you head in about 50 metres and where you would normally turn right, you instead head straight up the path. This part of the track is well maintained and heads up the first overhang cave.
From the cave, you follow around to the right where the path is still defined but much rougher than before. It will follow around the cliff heading up to the second smaller overhang cave with a little bit of a scramble, but there are plenty of hand holds, so it isn't too challenging.
The path follows the base of the cliff and requires a little bit of scrambling at this stage
The second cave gives you nice views and some people just stop here, as it is a nice place to sit and relax. When we were there you could see the types of visitors it often attracts by the amount of graffiti on the cave.
To finish the walk you need to climb one little section. This climb is very easy with many foot and hand holds and really doesn't present any sort of real challenge unless you are scared of heights. Even then, it is not an exposed ridge so it is not too bad.
There is a small section that you need to climb up
From here the path becomes less defined because of the nature of the terrain, but you can see the top of the hill from where you are and also easily see where the regular path is, because there are usually many walkers on it. The short answer is you head straight up the shallow gully until you reach the main path and then turn left to the top.
Keep on up the gully until you reach the main path up the mountain
At the top, of course, you get views in all directions including, up to Noosa Heads, down to Mooloolaba and to the west. While there are plenty of places to sit, there is little shade, so most people just enjoy the views before heading down.
On weekends, you will usually see an ice cream or juice van at the car park. While there is a drinking tap, there are no toilets. But there are plenty of shops and cafes in the area and if you really need to cool down, the beach is not far away.
There is usually a food, ice cream or juice truck at the car park on weekends
When driving, you want to put 'Mt Coolum Car Park' into your GPS, or 56 Jarnahill Drive, Mt Coolum. The car park isn't exactly huge and fills up quickly, but there is plenty of parking in the area, so it is not a problem.
You can also go by public transportation with a bus stop only 200 metres from the start of the walk. This makes Mt Coolum a great walk for students and backpackers who might not have cars.
This is a nice little challenge and I think a more fun way to get to the top of Mt Coolum than the stairs. If you have some experience in scrambling and climbing, then it is not too difficult.