Cooloola Great Walk

Another incredible week of The Happy Walk has passed. 

Only last week i said goodbye to the caring and supportive women i met in Rainbow Beach. It would have been easy to stay longer in the company of such strong and resilient women. Thank you Brooke, Kirstie, Pearl, Jacqui, Glenys, Kay, Delila and Xavier. Thank you also to Cafe Jilarty for keeping me caffeinated and donating breakfast, Rainbow Tropics Hideaway BnB for donating 2 nights accommodation, Rainbow Hair and Beauty for braiding my hair for the walk and the massage i was too embarrassed to accept and Rainbow Beach Surf Club for donating dinner. Pearl and Kirstie ran me around town and Pearl even loaned me her car for the day. A fundraiser was run by Pearl while i was in town to raise $100 for the online Lifeline fundraiser and her grandchildren wrote messages for me to carry on the walk.

There were a couple of parcels to collect from the post office including a care package full of yummy food and a special handmade card from Iris (and George and Nikki) in Canberra. I ate everything during the next 5 days on the Cooloola Great Walk!

I struggled to integrate back into society after K’gari but also a whole bunch of things were heavy on my mind including an humiliating lack of funds, poor sleep, misunderstandings, being judged for my size by strangers, carrying the wrong gear for the unusually cold nights and some personal heart/mind conflicts. I tried going with the flow and breathing through the stress but kept catching myself doing the old anxiety tics. For a few hours i relaxed when i joined Pearl and the family on dusk for a walk down Rainbow Beach but the next day i woke more tired than i arrived. 

The result of this was a series of 7 anxiety or panic attacks before and during the first day on the Cooloola Great Walk. After 4 attacks i called Lifeline who tried helping by encouraging me to talk through how i was feeling and why. Unfortunately it didn’t help because i was on the edge of another attack throughout the entire call which hit when i hung up. Thankfully my sister in law, Silvana Nossiter of New Leaf Counselling, broke a counselling rule and took a couple of hours out of her morning to help me, even had me laughing and taught me about the 4 realms of self that need attention to maintain balance and holistic health – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Talking to Sil/family helped greatly and i had only 2 more anxiety attacks that afternoon while walking. It was a rough start but everything smoothed out later that afternoon.

 

In Rainbow i met Brooke, one of the wonderful people who has been following The Happy Walk through Instagram. For me these moments are special, an opportunity to say thank you personally, not just words and emoticons on a screen. Several times Brooke suggested i visit Poona Lake on the first day of the Cooloola Great Walk but i was set on visiting the lighthouse which meant missing the lake track. As it turned out i found myself sitting in one of the most peaceful places in Australia. Thank you Brooke!

The Cooloola Great Walk stretches approximately 90kms across the tops of the high vegetated dunes between Rainbow Beach and Noosa North Shore. 

It is a relatively easy and safe 5 day walk with 4 walkers camps, toilets, rainwater tanks and communal cooking/gathering areas perfectly spaced apart for comfortable days. Be sure to book online and plan to avoid holidays and peak season.

The track is clear but often slow and sandy, much more sandy than the Fraser Island Great Walk. It is in the Great Sandy National Park after all. 
The landscapes are spectacular and ecosystems keep changing throughout the day. Birdlife and wildflowers are delightfully prolific.

There were not many walkers on the track. Infact, I had ever section of the walk entirely to myself meeting other walkers at night in camp on the 2nd and 3rd nights. During the day it really felt like i was the only human out there.

The first walkers i met were a Steiner school group learning to appreciate Nature and some useful bush skills. My first reaction on seeing them in camp was to keep walking but one of the teachers invited me back and i had a chat with them all about walking around Australia and Lifeline. These young adults have not been squashed my institutionalised learning. Their minds are open and inquisitive. This was a refreshing experience after the high schools i visited around Australia.

On the very last night i shared the camp with 2 other walkers but we didn’t meet. They arrived after midnight, chatting away while climbing the hill. They scoped my tent site and exclaimed their surprise finding another walker. Then they were quieter than the mice.

With each day my body is regaining its old strength and stamina. Core strength is speeding up back recovery and my general physical health is great. I am back to walking 15kms before lunch and setting a good pace so i have plenty of time for lazy morning meditation and relaxing late afternoon reflection (but this will change again when i go across to the mountains).

Noosa has been fantastic! The day i arrived i saw a post from an inspiring Melbourne woman whose Instagram tag is erica_walks_a_lot who was visiting Noosa for a Fred Hollows charity walk. So we found each other on Noosa Main Beach, Erica found me, and had dinner together with Ingrid and Mark who bought me a giant salad! Another special moment meeting a mutual follower and walkers.

Noosa holds one very special childhood memory for me. In 1977 Mum and Dad and 3 small kids came here. I was 5 Linda 2 and Steve wasn’t even walking. Early one morning on sunrise Dad took me down to Roses Cove on Noosa Head, took me behind the wave break and taught me how to still my fear and let the swell gently lift me up and over. I learnt to float in the ocean here 40 years ago. It is one of my most cherished memories.

I wanted to share a lot more with you but i think you need to come an experience it first hand.

Take every opportunity to get outdoors and explore Nature, go on a backpacking adventure, lace up your boots and go bushwalking. 

Humans are part of Nature yet we have lost our connection with the natural world. Reconnect. Love and respect Nature. The more time you spend surrounded by beauty the more you will want to protect it.

This week i cross over the highway to the Great Dividing Range and start walking through the mountains towards Brisbane. A whole new world of wonder and distracting beauty awaits me.

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