Mt Cooroora has been on my ‘to climb’ radar for quite some time. We had done a string of easy climbs, and I was up for the challenge. In actual fact, this was ‘take two’ for Mt Cooroora – we had made a misguided attempt the week prior, which we had to abort. In a bit of bad planning (on my part), we arrived in Pomona all prepped to climb only to find a few hundred others were in Pomona with the same idea in mind… for the annual King of the Mountain race. It took me a while to get over the fact that out of 365 days of the year, we chose the same day, but we vowed we would be back soon, and returned the very next week.
Mt Cooroora is probably the most famous of the Sunshine Coast climbs, due to the King of the Mountain race, which has been an annual event since 1979 (it is in July). The fact that it is a race, and the best time is just over 20 minutes (22:43 to be exact) gives you the false impression that this might be quite an easy climb… um… wrong.
It is not the hardest climb I have ever done, far from the easiest, but most definitely one of the best. It is a GREAT climb.
Mt Cooroora is 438 metres high and yet another volcanic plug – the remnants of an active volcanic region of days gone by – some millions of years worth of days gone by… It makes quite the statement as you look up at it from the road, or whizz past it on the highway. It looks BIG!
The trail to access the mountain begins just opposite the park on Mountain Street in Pomona. The walk starts out quite easy – it is a winding track that takes you over a wooden bridge and gently approaches the real part of the climb. I believe there is another more direct access route, but we were on the general hikers trail. The climb becomes quite steep very quickly… the chains and steel steps are a bit of hint as to what to expect.
The chains are not really that helpful on the way up, but they are a dream on the way down!
There are parts that are quite a scramble, and where the steel steps stop and become rough chiselled steps in the rock instead. I made perfect use of a few of the ledges to stop and have a rest (plenty of rests) and take in the views which are pretty amazing all of the way up.
There was a little bit of traffic as well, so sometimes you would have to stand to one side to let people pass as there is not really enough room for two on the steps – especially if you were relying on the chains.
The final part of the track is the most difficult. There are no chains or steps, so you are on your own, but once you get past this last bit, you are there. From there you can wander along the summit and get the full 360 degree experience.
We did the climb in about 1½ hours return, lingering for a little while at the top taking photos and breathing in the beautiful scenery. My son made it to the top in about 20 minutes, which really annoyed me because he was hung over as well, and then had a nana nap at the top until we got there some time later. My cherry babe probably would have equalled his time but patiently waited for me, sending me encouraging text messages when he got a little bit ahead and out of sight – he is such a sweetie J. I am not as super fit as they are. I took about 40 minutes. Having said that, I took my time and probably stopped a little more than I needed, to take photos… because I could…
When you look at the top from the road, it looks quite pointed, but there is quite a bit of room up there, and a few great little rock ledges where you can settle for while. Every time I get to the top of a mountain, I think that it is a great place for a picnic and make a mental note to come back and do just that, but then instead we always end up going somewhere new.
Going down was fun. Of course it is a lot easier from an exertion perspective, but the best part for me is using the chains to counter lever myself from ledge to ledge rather than walking upright. Many people try to ‘walk’ down and struggle. The loose rocks make it is slippery so using the chains as support make you less inclined to slip and you just seem to swing from one position to the next. We made it down to the bottom in no time 🙂
Mt Cooroora was a tough climb, but I loved it. It was not as difficult as Mt Tibrogargan, from the perspective that you had the chains to support yourself if you needed to. It was nowhere near as steep, and there were also the steel stairs. This also means it is a bit safer – there were lots of children doing the climb. Having said that, the satisfaction factor is much the same as it is quite the challenge.
Just be prepared, take water, and take your time, and you too can be the King of the Mountain for the day. Loved it. Do it!
This story was written by Petra Frieser – Pebbles + Pomegranate Seeds