Geeks With Blogs
Liam McLennan

I love what I do, but sometimes I need a break from software, from the office and from sitting at a computer all day. At such times I like to experience the outdoors and hiking is a great way to do that.

The Cooloola Great Walk is a 5 day, 102 km hiking track from Noosa to Rainbow Beach [pdf]. In Queensland it is too hot for long distance walking most of the year so I wanted to complete the walk in winter. On such short notice I could not organise a hiking partner, so I did the walk by myself. It was a strange and somewhat discomforting experience to be completely isolated and alone for five days.

The Cooloola Great Walk begins with a short walk through the bush to the beach.



The day of my departure coincided with an unprecedented winter rain event, which caught up with me on the beach


and stayed with me for the next 24 hours. The next photo is taken from the summit of Mt Seawah, looking down on Teewah village, with Noosa in the background.


For this trip I purchased a new one-man hiking tent, the Black Wolf Stealth Bivy. On the morning of my second day I emptied approximately four litres of water from the tent. It is hard to say how much of this was rain that made its way in and how much was condensation.


Through the second day rain seemed imminent as was forecast but it never came. The track followed a ridgeline above the surf, providing magnificent views of the cooloola sand mass.


Parks and wildlife use a tractor to maintain the track, which for some reason was parked beside the track in the middle of nowhere.


The track crossed the cooloola sandpatch before descending, crossing some swampy country and finally arriving at the second camp, on the banks of the noosa river.



Crossing the low plain back to the sound mass was wet, making me glad that I had chosen to walk in boots.


The third campsite (Litoria) was perched on the small summit of a hill, surrounded entirely by blackbut and scribbly gum forest. The combination of howling wind and my phobia of falling branches gave me poor sleep that night.

I started early on the fourth day, planning to complete the 25km track to freshwater campground and the promise of a hot shower. The track was often unclear and occasionally obscured, but the way forward was always easily discernible with the application of a small amount of common sense.


It took me all day to get to freshwater campground, where I found the sites sufficiently spacious. I had spent most of my change on the vehicle ferry to get to the start of the walk so by the time I had used the pay phone to book a camping site, and paid for a hot shower, I did not have any change left to call my wife and let her know I was still alive. I searched the ground around the payphone and found 20 cents, enough to send an SMS from the payphone. Once my camp was setup I went down to the beach to relax and listen to Mark Twain’s autobiography on my iPod.


The final day was another big one and so another early start. From the camp I had a 10km walk up the beach so I wanted to catch as much of the low tide as possible to have the harder sand to walk on.


The bird is a juvenile brahminy kite. To keep my pack weight down I had only my wide angle zoom lens, otherwise I could have taken some great images of these birds.



Two hours later I reached double island point. The views are spectacular so I took a break to have some food and look for whales.



Rock fishing is one of the most dangerous sports in Australia.




From double island point the track descended to Northern Beach, which was mostly submerged.

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For the next two hours I waded in the shallow water or walked on very soft sand and so managed only 3kms. 

The rest of the walk was dull and uncomfortable, except for the Carlo Sandblow.

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The last day was tough. I find that after the first two days I have almost no recovery, that is, I am as tired at the start of the day as I was at the end of the previous day. Covering 50km in the last two days did not help the situation. Despite my exhaustion and the rain that affected the first two days I thoroughly enjoyed my 5 days in the wilderness. Perhaps I will do it again, though not by myself.

Posted on Sunday, September 5, 2010 8:31 PM | Back to top

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