Woombye is a rural township in the eastern foothills of the Blackall Range. Just south of Nambour, this quaint little village is approximately 85kms north of Brisbane. It is thought that the name Woombye was derived from the Aboriginal word for the black myrtle which grew in the scrub, its straight tough stems being used by the coach drivers for whip handles. Another source attributes the name Woombye as an aboriginal word meaning 'the place of the black snake'.
Woombye initially named Cobbs Camp was an overnight stop on the coach route between Brisbane and Gympie
The discovery of gold in Gympie prompted the opening of a road between Brisbane and the goldfields. Cobb and Co established the coach route to Gympie in 1868 with an overnight stop in Woombye, initially named Cobbs Camp.
Fruit growing, particularly pineapples, was Woombye's economic mainstay. As lumber needed for Brisbane building reduced, a new market for timber emerged with thousands of packing cases for fruit. Surplus pineapples were railed to southern capitals and a pulping plant was opened in Woombye. Woombye's identification with the pineapple industry came to the fore with the opening of the Big Pineapple tourist attraction, with an inside staircase and a lookout.
Today, the main addition to Woombye's economy is the alternative lifestyle appeal to new residents, resulting in numerous new housing developments. A ninety-nine acre property, Avatar's Abode, is a place of pilgrimage dedicated to Meher Baba, located on the summit of Kiel Mountain near Woombye, as well as the Suncoast Christian College, both examples of a diversification from farming. Woombye has a primary school, a local shopping centre, several churches and inviting restaurants, welcoming weekenders and day trippers to enjoy the relaxed and laid back ambience.
Ample parking to be found outside the Woombye Bowls Club on a Sunday
Our Sunday cycle started in the heart of Woombye town centre, just off the Bruce Highway and west of Maroochydore. We discovered ample parking outside the Woombye Bowls Club, space enough to unload our bicycles.
The 5.3km (one way) recreational trail between the two hinterland towns of Woombye and Palmwoods is ideal for cyclists and walkers of intermediate fitness levels. Lucky for me, we had our electric bikes, so the steep inclines were easily achieved. The tree-lined paths provide recreational users with a safe and sealed track. The hilly hinterland sections present the perfect workout for those wishing to increase their fitness levels or maximise their time exercising. Did I mention we were using our electric bikes? The steep inclines were a 'breeze'.
Pretty tree-lined paths provide a safe and sealed track
We met local dog owners chatting and enjoying the sunshine along the trail as well as a few horse riders, with said four-legged beasts depositing 'nice' little parcels en route, adding a touch of 'duck and diving' to our outdoor cycle. Make sure to stop to take in the views of the Blackall Range, which I believe are particularly beautiful late afternoon when the sun is setting. Our chosen ride time was mid-morning, so alas, we missed the gorgeous hues of pink and orange, that a Sunny Coast winter sunset always promises.
We achieved our cycle to Palmwoods in just over forty minutes - the extra time needed to make sure we were on the right track and not meandering off to distant lands, plus the obligatory photo stop. Our return trip was much quicker, taking slightly more than twenty minutes - we now knew the route!
Prams and wheelchairs should have no problem with the level sections of this sealed trail, but the hills may prove a tad too 'hilly'. There are benches en route to sit and enjoy the views or have a snack break.
Welcome to Palmwoods, another quirky little hinterland town
Woombye and Palmwoods are both quirky little hinterland towns, embracing visitors with a warmth and uniqueness in character, both deserving of extra recreational time being spent there. Major regional attractions include the Big Pineapple, Wildlife HQ, the Tree Top Challenge as well as Ricks Garage Diner in Palmwoods, all impressive local icons to add to the 'what to do after' your recreational walk or cycle.
A picture frame for the perfect shot at Woombye School of Arts, 1898
To the starting point: Take the Nambour Connection Road exit off the Bruce Highway and travel east for approximately five minutes before you see the sign to Woombye. Turn left into Blackall Street, the main street of Woombye. The official starting point is on the corner of Hill Street, opposite the Woombye School of Arts (centre of town). To the end point: The end point is the same as the starting point.
Images courtesy of Elaine de Wet, author, unless otherwise indicated