Located on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, Mt Coolum is an impressive basalt mountain raising to just over 200 metres. The walk to the summit is extremely popular with several hundred visitors making the ascent each day.
The track was in the process of being “loved to death” as in places the track had widened to over five metres and its steep rocky terrain also created regular injuries. The Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service (QPWS), trying to manage the environmental degradation and safety issues, had initially considered the installation of an extensive steel staircase up the steepest (up to 28⁰) section of the track but this had prompted a public outcry.
TTMS was asked to investigate the feasibility of realigning the track to a gentler grade. While a realignment is often the best means to manage a poorly sited walking track, on this occasion due to sensitive native vegetation, cliff lines and private property boundaries we recommended that the existing track alignment be retained and upgraded. An additional factor that we had to consider was the tracks popularity with runners and triathletes who specifically wanted the very steep trail to train on. Our solution was the installation of over 600 rock steps, small landings (passing areas), drainage structures and rock retaining walls. Local rock was used to ensure that the new work blended in with the local surroundings. The project commenced in 2011 and was completed over several stages in 2019. During this time QPWS walking track counter data show the usage has increased tenfold from approximately 50,000 to almost half a million uses annually.