TOUR GUIDES: Mr Dickson and Queensland Parks and Wildlife interpretive Trevor Hatfileld on the new Mt Coolum walking track. Mike Garry
WALKERS and climbers have been enjoying it for a couple of months but last Friday National Parks Minister Steve Dickson officially reopened the upgraded Mt Coolum walking track.
Mr Dickson joined local schoolchildren, Maroochydore MP and Speaker Fiona Simpson and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers for a tour of the new track, and gave it the toes up.
"It's a steep walk, but the reward at the top is worth it," Mr Dickson said.
"Now the 50,000-plus visitors who come to Mt Coolum each year will have safer walks on tracks which are much more environmentally sound.
"More than 500 new rock steps have been constructed, as well as drains, passing bays, rock seats and viewing points, while eroded areas have been rehabilitated."
Mr Dickson said the $525,000 upgrade to the 800m walk was necessary to address safety and environmental concerns after the access route to the summit became dangerous.
About 380 tonnes of rock was hand-placed during the project, while helicopters were used on four separate operations to carry 120 tonnes of rock up on to the steeper sections.
Coolum State School student Sam Ball said the new walk was much safer.
"It's a great improvement from the last one because when you're coming down I used to tumble over sometimes and now it's really easy to step down," he said.
"The best part is up the top where you can see all the planes."
Fellow student Jessica Cowling is another Mt Coolum fan.
"I love looking at the view and looking at the beach, and finding my house from the top," she said.
Ms Simpson said the community was passionate about the mountain.
"It's just not an icon you look at, it is one that people enjoy," she said.
"You only have to stand here for a few minutes early in the morning, watching people unloading (their cars) or walking here," she said.
Climbers should allow two hours for the walk, wear sturdy shoes or boots, and carry water.
Track length: 800m
Walk time: About two hours
Details: 380 tonnes of rock hand-placed; 120 tonnes lowered by helicopter
Visitors: 50,000 a year