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Hiking the Sunshine Coast

Hiking the Sunshine Coast
 
   
   
   
   
 
 

Day 1

STARTING at the Tewantin information centre on the Noosa River, I began to follow the long path heading down the length of the Sunshine Coast. With over a hundred kilometres to hike, there was no way I was going to do this over a single day, especially with all the photography I was planning to do to capture the beautiful scenery, sunrises and sunsets. It will be five days before I would reach the end of the trail at the southernmost part of the coast.

Start of track at Tewantin

Start of track at Tewantin

Following the path beside the gentle waters of the Noosa River, the bright blue winter sky was completely free of clouds. The path followed the river downstream for six kilometres to its mouth where several people had fishing lines cast to catch any fish heading upstream with the outgoing tide.

Noosa River

Noosa River

Upon reaching the mouth of the river, I followed the busy sweeping Noosa Beach towards the forested headlands. The beach was rather crowded with tourists escaping the colder climes of the southern latitudes. It was a relief to reach the far end where a boardwalk followed the rocky coastline in the forest at the side of the hill.

Noosa Beach

Noosa Beach

It was not long before I reached the Noosa Heads National Park. Away from noisy traffic and crowds, the walkway followed the forest above several small and beautiful bays, the likes I would not see any more in this journey.

Boardwalk into headlands

Boardwalk into headlands

Looking out over the pristine blue ocean, a few boats and paddleboarders floating over the transparent water, with the sand and reefs clearly visible in the depths.

Granite Bay

Granite Bay

The track followed over the increasingly rugged headlands, where the bays gave way to rocky headlands with the waves smashing on them. I stopped at Hells Gates to watch a pod of dolphins swim by.

Pod of dolphins

Pod of dolphins

From there I descended along a sandy track to Alexandra Bay, a sweeping bay of sand over the Sunshine Coast’s only nudist beach. Upon reaching the end, I headed over the rugged track crossing the rocky headland of Devil’s Kitchen.

Alexandra Bay

Alexandra Bay

Upon reaching the highest point of the track I had a clear view down much of the length of the Sunshine Coast all the way down to Point Cartwright, where I will be reaching in three days. Somewhat closer was the rocky headland of Point Arkwright, where I was hoping to reach tomorrow night. The beach stretched continuously from the bottom of this headland all the way around to Point Arkwright.

Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast

I descended a long flight of stairs cut into the rock, until reaching the top of Sunshine Beach. By now the sun had set behind the hills leaving the beach in shade. I followed the beach southward for about half an hour before the sky began to darken.

Evening view of Noosa Heads

Evening view of Noosa Heads

 

Day 2

Leaving Sunshine Beach under the very early morning moonlight, I wanted to get to Sunrise Beach for the sunrise, obviously. I found a nice stream estuary which I sat beside to watch the sunrise from. The cloudless sky lightened in a brilliant array of colour bringing forth the sun.

Another photographer

Another photographer

Once the sun had risen above the horizon, I started following the beach southward heading towards the distant Point Arkwright where I was aiming to reach tonight. The westerly wind was blowing the tops off the waves creating a beautiful mist capturing the strong morning sunlight.

Sunrise with salt haze

Sunrise with salt haze

I continued following the beach for about an hour before smoke started appearing from in a controlled burn off in front of Mount Coolum near the point. The smoke covered the beach for several hours reducing the visibility under the otherwise clear sky. For a while I thought the beach was going to be completely blocked off cutting short today’s intended destination.

Bushfire smoke

Bushfire smoke

Fortunately, the smoke did start to clear in the early afternoon allowing me to continue along the beach. Eventually, I reached the start of the rocky headlands leading to Point Arkwright. A boardwalk lead around the headlands ascending the jagged headlands towards the point.

Point Arkwright

Point Arkwright

The boardwalk became a rough track leading through the scrub before I eventually reached a platform on the northern side of the point. From the platform, I could see the now distant hills of the Noosa Heads as watched the sun set to a surprisingly clear night.

Sunset from Point Arkwright

Sunset from Point Arkwright

 

Day 3

Heading out onto the main viewing platform at Point Arkwright I watched Venus and the moon bring the first light of dawn. I left the point and headed further along the beach as the sun rose, soon reaching a track heading a short distance inland to the base of Mount Coolum.

Venus and Moon at Pt Arkwright

Venus and Moon at Pt Arkwright

From there I decided to climb the rather steep Mount Coolum as a break from hiking the continuous beach. From the summit, I could clearly see the rest of today’s journey all the way down to Maroochydore.

View from Mt Coolum

View from Mt Coolum

From the top of Mount Coolum, I returned to the beach and continued walking along the soft sand passing Mudjimba Island near the Sunshine Coast Airport until eventually reaching Pincushion Island at the mouth of the Maroochy River. From there I headed upstream to the first bridge which I crossed and walked down the other side as cloud covered the sky, reaching Maroochydore a little after sunset.

Maroochy River

Maroochy River

 

Day 4

Starting before sunrise over the moonlit mouth of the Maroochy River, I followed the Maroochydore Beach south towards Point Cartwright. The tide was right out leaving some beautiful pools reflections of the colours of the pre-dawn sky.

Low tide pools at Maroochydore

Low tide pools at Maroochydore

Continuing along the beach the bright sun rose before I reached the path crossing above the cliffs of Alexandra Headland into the sweeping sandspit of Mooloolaba, where high rise apartment blocks towered over the beach concealing the canal estate behind it. This was another tourist area.

Mooloolaba

Mooloolaba

I followed the beach to its far end, where a rocky breakwater extending out either side of the mouth of the Mooloolah River directing the water flowing from the canals out into the ocean. On the other side of the river was the rocky headland of Point Cartwright with its large lighthouse. Although only a few hundred metres away, I would have to take a long detour back along the beach, and around the huge canal estate along the lower reaches of the river.

Mooloolaba Beach

Mooloolaba Beach

After a break at the end of the rocks, I returned along the beach and followed the roads navigating their way around and bridges crossing the calm channels until eventually reaching the other side, where a track followed the river downstream to Point Cartwright. A concrete track headed up from the river to the summit of the hill, just in front of the lighthouse.

Mooloolah River

Mooloolah River

From here I watched the sunset before heading down to the very long sweeping beach and followed it due southward under the darkness of night, heading towards the distant lights of Caloundra at its far end, stopping about half way along the beach.

Point Cartwright and lighthouse

Point Cartwright and lighthouse

 

Day 5

Setting off again well before sunrise, I reached the calm waters of Lake Currimundi to watch the moon set. Following the track through the dark forest, the sky gradually lightened with the dawn, finally catching the bright orange sunrise on Dicky Beach, named after a rusting shipwreck that was on the sand for many decades before being removed just a couple of years ago. From there a track rose steeply above the cliffs of Moffatt Head to follow the headlands of Caloundra.

Sunrise over Dicky Beach

Sunrise over Dicky Beach

As the sun climbed higher in the sky, I had hiked far enough along the track to now see the long sweeping beach of Bribie Island, separated from the mainland by Pumicestone Passage. The channel ran along the side of the buffs as I passed through the main centre of Caloundra.

Boardwalk at Caloundra

Boardwalk at Caloundra

Once past Caloundra, the trail continued following the shallow channels of the Pumicestone Passage southwards passing more residential areas heading towards Pelican Waters. The roar of the ocean waves completely disappeared, and the coastal scrub of the beaches and headlands were now replaced with mangroves between the golden beaches.

Pumicestone Passage

Pumicestone Passage

In the late afternoon, I reached the end of the trail at Bell’s Creek. Here the residential area of the Sunshine Coast came to an abrupt end. An endless forest of mangroves grew from the other side of the estuary, with endless mangroves on the other side of the creek. Several small house boats floated on the calm waters of the creek as several pelicans foraged in the water for their evening meal.

End of track at Bell's Creek

End of track at Bell's Creek

I had completed the five-day 110 kilometre hike along the length of the Sunshine Coast.

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Aug - Sep 2017

 

Brisbane

Australia

 

26°S
153°E

0 - 208m ASL

 

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