By Lisa Marshall
The annual Great Noosa Country Trail Walk took place over the long weekend October 2-4 in the beautiful Noosa hinterland.
This unique event, recently renamed the Noosa Biosphere Trail, took walkers through the countryside on the Noosa trail system, starting at Lake McDonald in Cooroy and ending in Pomona. Just under 200 walkers walked 56 km in three days and camped overnight in Kin Kin and Cooran, or stayed at local BnBs and lodgings in nearby towns.
The event was created by Shaun Walsh, who wanted a way to connect the country towns of Cooroy, Cooran, Kin Kin and Pomona to showcase the region’s beautiful natural surroundings.
“The Noosa trail network is quite unusual in Australia as it connects rural towns and villages, with good day walks in between. It’s very similar to the walks and pilgrimages you get in Europe, but very rare here in Australia. I also love how the farmland is mixed with national parks and forests – the terrain is very diverse – it’s like walking on the rooftops of the natural and cultural landscapes of Noosa.
Highlights of the route include the views from the Twin Hill Views and James McKane Lookout, the forests of Woondum National Park and the difficult climb up Mount Cooroora in the final stage, for those who choose to do so.
The dedicated and committed Trail Guides team is at the heart of the success of the event, which started in 2013 with just 90 walkers. This year, 16 volunteer guides have walked the trails with the walkers, as a support and encouragement and to provide local knowledge of the towns and the trails. Walkers are encouraged to be self-sufficient and self-guided, but having the team of local guides brings a sense of support and welcoming community.
Lisa Marshall, local Noosa Trek coach and event coordinator for the Trail Walk this year, said: “There was a tremendous sense of gratitude and a lot of excitement when the event unfolded, given the uncertainties that accompany the present times. A lot of events couldn’t happen this year so we treasured every day we walked in the wilderness and really enjoyed the opportunity we had to hike the scenic Noosa backcountry and camping under the stars.
Local hiker Janet Kake, one of the volunteer guides, was delighted to learn some of her family history along the route: “My grandparents are Mervyn Bunney and Agnes Playford, from the early settler families in Kin Kin and Pomona. No wonder I love these trails! ” she said.
The team of volunteer trail guides, walk the course together in the weeks leading up to the event, to familiarize themselves with the course, to point out any hazards or areas to be addressed by council or parks prior to the event and to discuss plans for the weekend of the event.
Longtime guide and supporter Janet Mitchell said:
“We have been involved from the start and love the camaraderie that has developed between the guides. They are a very special group of amazing people who have become an important part of our lives. We haven’t hiked the trail for a few years and unfortunately won’t be doing it again this year, but we are still on site to lend a hand, support the trail guides marking the route and carrying merchandise for the walkers.
Holly Ash, who has been on the road this year, said upon arrival at Pomona Distilling Co: “Good end to a fantastic weekend. I met so many new friends and had a wonderful time hiking. Thank you and bravo to all the guides, organizers, walkers and guides. Roll on 2022! “
For the second year in a row, the event organizers were aiming for a zero waste event, encouraging walkers to bring their own food and water in reusable containers and to leave no traces on the trails.
The hikers, all from Queensland this year, ended each day with delicious meals at Black Ant Gourmet in Kin Kin and PC Cutters Club in Cooran. They also visited the Hinterland Brewery and Dingo Creek Winery in the afternoon, to sample local dishes. Healthy breakfasts and lunches, as well as a pop-up tea stand, were prepared by local community groups, Eumundi Rotary, Cooroy Pomona Lions Club, KinKin Community Group and Pomona Cooroy Cutters.
The funds raised during the event were used to plant 2,200 species of trees in the hinterland, providing shade for the future.
Since its creation, this walk has been organized, managed and carried out by a multitude of passionate volunteers, local associations and sponsors.
Registration for next year’s event will open towards the end of the year. The event has sold out in a week for the past few years, so if you’re looking to have some fun next year, follow Great Noosa Trail Walk on Facebook and watch for the 2022 event to launch.