Travel used to be simple: photographs in front of famous monuments or tasting the local cuisine. Now we need to be the fastest, walk the longest, or climb the highest for the ultimate bragging rights.
Put your body on the line and go through a guided tour to climb six Sunshine Coast Mountains in only one day. Experientia Sunshine Coast is the only tour company that provides such an adventure. With the guides Melinda Bingley and Blase Grinner taking you from mountain to mountain, this will test all your limits.
Are you ready?
The Tour Guides
You’ll be guided up the mountains by two extremely experienced hikers, Blase Grinner and Melinda Bingley.
If there were ever a poster child for personal challenges it would be the woman who is following close behind me, Melinda Bingley. When she reached Santiago de Compostela (Spain), 27 days into her solo pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago she still didn’t feel done and hiked onwards to Muxia – another 118.5 kilometres.
She’s trekked through the Kokoda, scaled Mount Kilimanjaro and hiked to Everest Base Camp. Meanwhile, on her days off she likes to climb Mount Tibrogargan – the hulking ‘gorilla’ of the Glass House Mountains – solo, regularly.
For the past 10 years, Bingley has been helping her personal training clients overcome challenges – their own inner Camino – even if that’s just running 10 minutes on a treadmill without stopping. Now, with her partner, Blase Grinner, they’ve made their favourite outdoor adventures into active escape packages under Experientia.
Stop 1: Wild Horse Mountain
The sunrise is glorious from atop Wild Horse Mountain.
The trek is starting at the smallest of the Glass House Mountains (blessed) with Wild Horse Mountain. The tip of the summit will give you a western view of the Sunshine Coast, with panoramic views of the Pumicestone Passage, as well as Bribie and Moreton Islands. The only way up is via a steep 700-metre paved pathway, which is the easier of routes on this journey.
Distance (return): 1.4 kilometres
Stop 2: Mount Beerburrum
Mount Beerburrum is almost an identical hike to that of Wild Horse Mountain. The steep walkway winds through rainforest and eucalyptus woodlands. If you’re feeling a bit sluggish there are seats along the way to get a quick rest in. South-Eastern Queensland is the setting for the view and boy, it sure is pretty. But this stop is definitely a calf-burner.
Distance (return): 1.4 kilometres
Stop 3: Mount Ngungun
The view from the top of Mount Ngungun.
Now that you’ve gotten the smaller mountains out of the way (phew!) Mount Ngungun (pronounced Noo Noo) is not out here to play. Wind up through the man-made path and you’ll be zipped straight into forestry of floral plant life. Beautiful ferns and Aussie bush will line the walkway to the top. From there you’ll be able to see a close-up view of Mount Tibrogargan, an ancient volcano that dried up 27 million years ago.
Distance (return): 2.8 kilometres
Stop 4: Mount Cooroora
The highest mountain is here and we’re about the conquer it. Aptly named ‘The King of the Mountain’, this climb involves metal stairs, a chain to hold yourself up (very useful on the descent) and a bush trail. While you’re walking just cast your mind to the reward at the top, uninterrupted views of the Sunshine Coast’s vast hinterland.
Once you’ve reached the top, sit back and enjoy the deliciously pre-prepared snacks and lunch provided. Serving us icy-cold orange segments and latte-flavoured bliss balls for a little well-deserved nibble. Afterwards, we devoured organic falafel wraps and coconut water. This made the experience feel less boot camp and more five-star wellness retreat.
Distance (return): 2 kilometres
Stop 5: Mount Ninderry
You’re almost there, just two more gruelling hikes to go. Mount Ninderry is tucked away in the inland of Coolum, and along the way, you’ll get to see the Maroochy River and the Pacific Ocean. The track has been recently upgraded so you won’t be free-climbing thankfully.
Generally, this mountain remains a bit forgotten, most of the visiting climbers tend to head straight for Mount Coolum, so this will be a little slice of serenity.
Distance (return): 2.5 kilometres
Stop 6: Mount Coolum
The final stop on the adventure, Mount Coolum
Right about now you’ll all feel pretty weary, but determined to push through and finish on a high. It’s quick and dirty, and the reward is an endless vista to the north and south drinking in the Sunshine Coast in its entirety.
Height: 203 metres
Distance (return): 3.2 kilometres
Our group made it through each climb and descent with time left over to rest and refuel. Samantha Lippiatt (Director of Health & Fitness Travel) put it as, “You’ve got this huge goal that maybe once seemed impossible, that not only are you going to have passed, but then you’re going to have a once-in-a-lifetime trip as well.”
Whenever I head towards Noosa I give Cooroora a nod; on the beach, I gaze to the top of Coolum and across to Ninderry. And when I’m driving towards Brisbane I give Beerburrum, Wild Horse and Ngungun all a wave. I can’t help but smile and a feeling of achievement washes over me.
Even though I’ve done some of these hikes before, everything has changed. I’m seeing with new eyes and a refreshed mindset. And there ain’t no mountain high enough to keep me from losing this high.
How to do it
Get up early and bring your emotional A-game. Experientia Sunshine Coast’s Six Mountains in One Day kicks off at 6 AM and includes transport to all summits, qualified and personable guidance and Brisbane, Queensland motivation, and delicious paleo snacks and lunch from local suppliers. The cost is $299 with a maximum of 10 people in the group.
Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia fly to Sunshine Coast Airport in Maroochydore from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. From Brisbane, it’s a 70-minute drive to Caloundra to meet your pick-up.
Rumba Beach Resort puts you right on the waterfront at Caloundra with views over some of your conquests beyond the Pumicestone Passage. To stay among the mountains, sleep in a converted train carriage or church at Glass House Mountains Ecolodge.