This was a tough choice! Did we walk Emu Mountain? Hike it, or climb it? Oh heck, I've decided - we walked it! Whoever said that Mount Ninderry was the easiest of all the summits on the Sunshine Coast, obviously has never done Emu Mountain aka Mt Peregian.
Located between Coolum and Peregian Beach, the seventy-one metre Emu Mountain, derived its name from the local Aboriginal word 'peregian', which means emu. Apparently, in bygone days, emus used to roam on these very same mountain slopes, enjoying the shrubby heathlands.
The Emu Mountain section of this region is now included into the Noosa National Park. The main reason for this is because of the rarity of the species of coastal heathland plants that are found in this area; as well as ensuring the continued protection of this remnant habitat. Subsequently all tracks have been closed to vehicle access, to protect against soil erosion.
The Sunshine Coast Wildflower Festival on the Sunshine Coast has just commenced, so we thought with Spring just around the corner, and days not too hot yet, now would be the ideal time to take on Emu Mountain, and hopefully find some beautiful wildflowers in the process. Our intended walk was without the benefit of an expert guide or flora volunteer, to assist with identifying flowers and plants. This 'bonus' comes with the Sunshine Coast Wildflower Festival free walks.
I am sure that by now, my readers realise that though I sometimes 'hit the petal' when it comes to taking good photos of nature - usually I photo snap my way around willy-nilly, without any idea of what is actually botanically endangered and what's not. My pre-requisite to photos is usually colour ... the more eye-catching the colour, the higher likelihood of me 'snapping' the pic. They say 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. It usually takes me hours to try to identify my flower photos. A budding botanist? Or, not… (there IS a reason for my ramblings here).
I have discovered that Emu Mountain has its own 'treasures' with several rare and threatened plant species calling this area 'home'. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that I managed to get any photos of these rare flora treasures, but will happily show you what I did discover, whilst walking up and down Emu Mountain.
On the endangered species list of rare plants on Emu Mountain is the Emu Mountain Sheoak - Allocasuarina Emuina.. Sheoaks are limited to locations within a 35km range on the Sunshine Coast and most of the population has long term protection. A major part of this species exists on Emu Mountain. Try, as I might, I cannot locate a picture of the Sheoak amongst my photos, so to cover my 'tracks', let's just say, that perhaps it hasn't started blooming yet this year.
The Sword-Sedge is another limited distribution plant found on Emu Mountain, that has become rather scarce because of clearing of coastal areas for residential development. The Sword-Sedge is a grassy-looking plant and is easy to miss, so walkers might inadvertently trample it. By staying on the tracks, further endangering of the Sword-Sedge can be avoided.
The Wallum froglet is a vulnerable acid frog - a special little inhabitant that lives in the swamps in and around Emu Mountain. Acid frogs love low nutrient soils near coastal lowlands and sound like a small ringing bell. We never heard any of these little frogs, but now that we know about them, we will definitely keep our ears to the ground, in the hope of hearing their bell sounds.
Besides looking for wildflowers, the relatively easy Emu Mountain Summit Walk was on our radar as we wanted to introduce our grandson, master four, to the joys of walking, hiking or was it climbing a summit 'to see what we can see'! Emu Mountain's walking trails are a fabulous way to enjoy the natural environment, spot some local wildlife (if you're lucky), culminating in spectacular views of the coastline from the summit. I would imagine that this could be a fantastic whale watching location during the whales' annual migration past our shorelines, with views extending to Coolum Beach, Peregian and Peregian Springs.
If you are keen to try out Emu Mountain, the walk starts in Havana Road East, opposite Coolum Beach State High School campus, with plenty of available parking on weekends. The relaxed summit walk only takes about twenty-five minutes each way. Along with several steep sections, parts of the track have loose rocks, so a pair of good walking shoes, as well as staying vigilant, with regards slipping, is a great idea. A bottle of drinking water would certainly not go amiss either.
There are three different walks in and around Emu Mountain - Hakea Walk; the Summit Walk and the Ocean Beach Walk - please see map below for suggested routes.
Emu Mountain doesn't promise the thrill of climbing hundreds of metres into the air for spectacular vistas, but what it does promise is a tranquil, unbusy, perhaps overlooked, bushwalk, with panoramic views of the coastline. A lovely way to get back to nature and enjoy the Spring wildflowers! And, yes, for master four, his inaugural bush walk was a huge success.