A couple of weeks ago we did the Currimundi Lake and Surf Beach, the amphibious playground on the Sunshine Coast. Today our goal was to tackle the opposite side of this area - to see how the 'other' half lives, so to speak, and what an absolute delight this turned out to be.
Just north of Caloundra, you'll find the Kathleen McArthur Conservation Park, on the north side of Currimundi Lake - a small remnant of wallum heath that is thriving on this northern shore, despite its proximity to all the Sunshine Coast developments. Short walks, wildflowers, coastal birds and splendid views of the ocean, beach and lake are what awaits you at the Kathleen McArthur Conservation Park.
Great childrens' play facilities - Image: Elaine de Wet
This park is named after Kathleen McArthur, a local artist, conservationist and founding member of the Wildlife Preservation Society of QLD. Kathleen was passionate about wallum heathlands and campaigned to have these plant communities protected in the Sunshine Coast region. The heathland wildflowers were a favourite subject for her botanical illustrations.
Start of walk at Crummunda Park - Image: Elaine de Wet
We commenced our walk at Crummunda Park with paved walkways, a childrens' playground including a flying fox, picnic and barbecue facilities. Unfortunately, due to a storm cell having recently passed through, the park tree-life had been seriously scarred but managed to not detract from the scenic beauty of the surrounds. This is a lovely family-oriented park, with stairways leading down to the sandy beach alongside the lake, locals taking advantage of the calm water for fishing, swimming and even some canoeists practising their 'paddling'.
Narrow beach-sandy pathways - Image: Elaine de Wet
At the end of Crummunda Park, we discovered the Heath Trail in the Kathleen McArthur Conservation Park, which is part of the Coastal pathway of the Sunshine Coast. It's a beach-type walkway (in my language, means narrow beach-sandy paths) through the wallum heath with informative signage all along the route, indicating the type of plants, bird life and fauna one could expect to see.
Fire shapes and transforms the heath landscape, recycling dead plants and releasing nutrients back into the poor, sandy soil. Many heath plants are dependent on fire to open seed pods or germinate seeds.
You'll know you've found the right trail when you see the Heath Trail - Image: Elaine de Wet
The Aboriginals used to deliberately fire the wallum, hunting the animals driven before the flames. Today, rangers periodically burn small patches of the park to maintain plant diversity and protect against destructive wildfires.
Seating to take in the views - Image: Elaine de Wet
Strategically placed seating areas offering the 'wannabe resters' delightful views of the lake towards the ocean, with little pockets of beach picnic areas en route. The Currimundi Lake is a natural nursery for sea fish with the landscape constantly changing - look out for the Brahminy Kites that soar above the shoreline, on the constant lookout for fish, reptiles, insects and even smaller birds.
Nature's own sandstone creation - Image: Elaine de Wet
This stunning easy walk is only two kilometres return (an hour), but the diversity of plant and bird life in such a small conservation area is phenomenal. The first 140 metres to the lake viewing point is wheelchair-accessible and stroller-friendly.
Pot of gold at the end of the rainbow - Image: Elaine de Wet
The absolute pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is coming out on the top of the dunes and being greeted with breathtaking views of the ocean (the tides at the mouth of Lake Currimundi ebbing and flowing), a magnificent force of nature at play. A truly panoramic spot, with views to Point Cartwright in the north and to the south, Caloundra.
I am constantly in awe at how many scenic spots we have on the Sunshine Coast that appear to be totally uninhabited and are just waiting to be explored - a great outing for every family member to enjoy.
PS Our furry family members are permitted, on a leash, at Crummunda Park, but as a safety precaution to the local wildlife, are not permitted through the Kathleen McArthur Conservation Park.