I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published December 25th 2016
Walk in Noosa hinterland
I only found out about the Great Noosa Trail walk by accident. I was on the Sunshine Coast and read about it in a local newspaper. I wanted to get back into bush walking, so sent an email to my friend, Bea, to see if she wanted to come on the walk with me. She was in Bogor in Indonesia on assignment with Australian Business Volunteers for a couple of months.
The Great Noosa Trail Walk is a three-day guided walk on every year on the October long weekend. The trail winds through the natural and cultural landscape of the Noosa hinterland in Queensland. It traverses through beautiful countryside and the lovely quaint country towns of Cooroy, Kin Kin, Cooran and Pomona. There are well marked dedicated walking trails which go through farmlands, national parks, state forests, private property, council parks and road reserves. There are spectacular lookouts of the hinterland where you can see all the way to the ocean.
Bea loved the idea and we had a few months to get fit after she returned to Brisbane so I signed us up for the early bird price of $180 each. Our registration covered breakfasts, lunch and camping fees. We only had to carry daypacks and all our other gear was transported by bus to each campsite.
It's a very well organised 60-kilometre walk with lots of accommodation options. We chose to camp but others had booked ahead into hotels, Bed and Breakfast places, guest houses and Air BnB's. The main organiser, Shaun Walsh is passionate about introducing walkers to the cultural and environmental landscape of his local region. The event is not-for-profit, and Shaun estimates it conservatively adds $40,000 to small businesses and community groups in Noosa's hinterland villages.
There were a lot of volunteer guides and lots of support and options to be picked up along the trail for tired walkers. There were water and food stops along the way so we didn't have to carry much. We ended up bringing most of our food home.
Our walk started with sign on at the Cooroy Butter Factory Arts Centre early on Saturday morning. We checked in our large packs with our tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment and food. We all got a yellow bandana. The guides wore red bandanas.
A bus took us to the start of the walk at the Amphitheatre at Noosa Botanical Gardens on the shore of Lake MacDonald. We were able to walk at our own pace, and even though there were 150 walkers, we soon all spread out and walked in small groups. There was a friendly community atmosphere.
We walked through rainforest and farmland through to Kin Kin. The route took in Twin Hills and the Wahpunga Range. We had stunning views of farmland and mountains, and at high points, views back to Noosa Heads and the lakes.
The Eumundi Rotary had set up a beautiful country pop-up teahouse 15 Kilometres into the walk where we had lunch. It was very civilised with tables and chairs and lots of delicious homemade food. After lunch, some people decided to bail out and wait for the shuttle bus to Kin Kin.
We walked on to the stop point at Shepperson's Park, where a shuttle bus picked us up and transported us into Kin Kin. We camped in the camping ground in this beautiful little country hinterland town.
Day 1 was supposed to be 22.5 kilometres but felt much longer. Some walkers measured it on their Fitbits, watches and phones to be 28 kilometres. We all had sore muscles and sore feet.
The Kin Kin General Store and Cafe put on a fantastic smorgasbord dinner on Saturday night. It cost $20 each and there was a huge choice of delicious food.
Day 2 was pretty hard. It was around 22 kilometres. There were lots of hills and it was hot. The route followed the valleys of Kin Kin Creek before climbing up the rainforest plateau of Woondum National Park to a lookout.
Bea was powering ahead listening to music through earphones. I stopped for a rest in a forest clearing after a long uphill climb.
I asked one of the guides how much further to the bus pick up point. When he said it was another 6 kilometres uphill through the forest, I sat down for a rest. I sat beside a girl who said she had very bad blisters and was waiting to be picked up by a car.
That was enough for me. I bailed out and got a ride to the campsite at Cooran. By the time Bea arrived I had put my tent up, had a shower and was relaxing with a drink on the hotel veranda. Cooran is a lovely historical village. We camped at the Cooran Recreation Grounds.
We had dinner on the deck of the Cooran Recreation Club and chatted with locals and other walkers. They were a very interesting group. Some people watched the football final on TV.
On Day 3 we had an early breakfast at the Recreation Club. It was a pleasant easy 10-kilometre walk through forests of Mt Tuchekoi National Park into Pomona. There was an option to climb Mt Cooroora on the way in but we had both climbed that mountain before so didn't do it this trip.
The Great Noosa Trail Walk finished at the Old Railway Station Gallery on Station Street and the shuttle bus took us back to Cooroy to pick up our car for the drive back to Brisbane.
We felt proud of ourselves at the end of the walk. I only had one huge unbroken blister on the inside of my big toe where I've never had a blister before. Bea lost a toenail off her big toe a few weeks later. She has since bought new boots. I heard about trekker's wool that you could wrap around your toes to prevent blisters. I've bought a packet of it online from New Zealand so will be well prepared next time. We will also train harder next year.
We had beautiful weather and no rain, which was good as I had patched up my old tent with duct tape and wasn't sure it would be waterproof.
Overall the walk was a wonderful experience and we are definitely signing up next year. There was plenty of time to enjoy the landscape, local shops, art exhibitions and antique shops along the way. You do need to have a reasonable level of walking fitness, but there was a wide age range of people. I met one woman in her 80's and there were a few teenagers.
The 2017 walk is on September 30th & 1st, 2nd October, with registration at the Cooroy Butter Factory Arts Centre. Bookings aren't open yet, but you can lodge your interest her greatnoosatrailwalk.com.au/booking-contact/