I'm a freelance writer living on the Sunshine Coast.
Published September 28th 2016
Plenty of Pretty Petals
Emu Mountain is located in Coolum and at only 84m tall provides one of the best nature walks for the whole family. Whilst my two boys raced up the mountain with my husband, my daughter and I took the time to enjoy the many flowering delights. I have included this link to a map for your reference.
Emu Mountain is part of the Noosa National Park area and the walk to the summit is relatively easy (Class 4) with a distance of 850m return. Access to the mountain is from Havana Rd. I have walked up to the summit a few times now, but this is the first time I have done so in spring. The walk in spring is particularly leisurely as there are so many tiny flowers to spot and photograph. (Note that we did not touch the plants, and I would not recommend touching plants you are not familiar with.) Finding wildflowers with kids who are nature lovers or keen photographers will be a great challenge for them. Outdoor photography can be tricky because of the varying levels of physical access, wind, and light but this just adds to the fun. I just used a standard camera this time, but if you have a macro lens then I highly recommend using it.
Some flowers are super tiny. (Photo copyright Alice Ribosa)
The terrain itself can present its own challenges. My 7 year old didn't have any trouble climbing to the top, but it's best to wear long trousers/trackpants and really good sports shoes to avoid any grazed knees or sprained ankles on the way down. Even in dry weather the loose stones along the path can be slippery if your shoes don't have good grip so be careful where you tread. Some parts of the path appear to be mudstone or tuff stone and provide better grip. The walk is steep in some parts so always carry a backpack with your supplies/water bottles to better distribute your weight, especially when taking photos.
During springtime the montaine heathland displays pockets of interesting wildflowers. The word 'montaine' refers to a vegetation type from the Latin "mons" (a mountain). Here you will find plants which have colonised the top of old volcanic plugs such as Emu Mountain. You may like to point out to your kids that the soils are shallow, poor in nutrients, often directly on bedrock, with plants growing in rocky crevices. Plants in this type of environment are also exposed to extreme wind and sun. During our walk, my 12 year old daughter was very keen to point out the flowers she found along the way, so I have included this link of a brochure showing some of the wildflowers on the Sunshine Coast as a reference guide so that you can use it to identify the various wildflowers after you download all your photos at home.
Several threatened plants can be found on Emu Mountain, including the Emu Mountain She-oak (Allocasuarina emuina). The Emu mountain She-oak is a shrub with red flowers and hard clusters of woody fruit. You could make finding this plant an extra challenge for your kids while they walk up the mountain. This type of searching activity is particularly good for sharpening the senses and improving awareness. I think it's much better than looking for Pokemon!
While the views from the top are amazing, the path back down gives you another opportunity to see the plants that you may have missed along the way, so get that camera ready again! Going through your photos at home will show you why the natural diversity of this area is so special. Teaching our kids to appreciate and care for our unique environment is also our responsibility. By encouraging our kids to learn from and interact with our environment in a positive way, we can be sure they will help protect it in the future.
The flowering spike rising from a Grass Tree. (Photo copyright Alice Ribosa)