We've a mountain for every climber
LOOKING for a fun, adventure activity these school holidays that will entertain the whole family and doesn't cost a cent? Try climbing a mountain.
The Sunshine Coast has many easy mountain climbs catering for varying age groups and level of physical ability.
And a well-planned trip can easily become a holiday highlight.
Below is a brief guide to some of the mountains in our region, including Business editor Rebecca Marshall's first hand experience on one of the iconic Glasshouse Mountains with her three-year-old son, Jay.
THIS climb is tough. Its difficulty is rated "hard" and you know you are in for a physically demanding adventure when the advisory signs say a measly 2.4km return will take you up to three hours.
We didn't know this before attempting the climb with our three-year-old; we had just heard from friends with a toddler of a similar age that they had done it and it was fine.
Clearly, we have different definitions of that word!
It is a fabulous climb, however, and a brilliant challenge, but I would not take children younger than five up its steep, rocky slopes.
The first part, like many mountain approaches, is easy and flat. You meander through lush fern and eucalypt forests and you barely notice that you are zig-zagging on an incline.
All of a sudden, an enormous shard of rock bursts out of the greenery and blocks out the sun, with clumps of smaller boulders congregating at its side.
These clumps are the ones you clamber up. Many of them are wobbly, so this section demands careful attention.
You will use your hands to grip on this almost vertical bit, and many steps push your legs to the limit of their extension.
You may also experience anything from euphoria to fear when you reach the top and look down at what you have just overcome. You do not need to be a triathlete to make it up this far, but an average or better fitness level is a must.
Once atop the boulder section, there is a clearing with some shrubbery and amazing views. Another 80 metres up and you reach the summit, but it is a small area and very open (too exposed for me!).
Climbing down is the most hair-raising. We put our son in between us as we descended and I don't mind saying I shed a tiny tear of relief when we reached the flat track without any broken bones or rescue helicopter call-outs.
But the experience has not put me off. We will be back, but just when our son's legs are a little longer.
OTHER MOUNTAINS WORTH A CLIMB:
Mount Cooroora (Pomona)
Walk length: allow two hours
Level of difficulty: moderate to hard
What to bring: water, good walking shoes and treats for the top
Enjoyment rating: four
Every year groups of people sprint up Mount Cooroora in about 20 minutes in the race to be "King of the Mountain", but for ordinary folk the walk up is longer and slower, particularly in the last section where you have to negotiate steep metal ladders. We actually stopped before we reached the top as we decided it was too tricky for a three-year-old and a woman not comfortable with heights. It is a fantastic walk for older children who're keen on something a little bit more stimulating and challenging
Height: 72 metres
Length: about 40 minutes
Level of difficulty: easy
What to bring: anything or nothing
Enjoyment rating: three
If you have small children or older people and you want to do a gentle climb that still provides rewarding views then you have to climb Mount Emu. The nice, ide track off the Coolum High School makes it a walk suitable for all age groups. My daughter did it when she was under two, I did it when I was eight-months-pregnant. While it's not difficult, it's enjoyable because there is a lovely view from the top and it is not as frequented as other walking trails like Mount Coolum.