Trail walk puts community first

On the trail

By Gntw Coordinator Lisa Marshall

The Great Noosa Country Trail Walk due to take place over the long weekend, 2-4 October, showcases the scenic Noosa Hinterland and connects the towns of Cooroy, Kin Kin, Cooran and Pomona, over the three-day, 56km hike through farmland, bush, country trails and natural reserves.

The first Great Noosa Trail Walk was held in 2013 after two years of planning by the creator Shaun Walsh.

“I started the event because I wanted to give the trail network a quality event involving the locals, to keep the profile high and ensure the trail network was never lost to these communities,” Shaun said.

Shaun was well connected in Cooroy, Kin Kin, Cooran and Pomona, and together a local group of passionate volunteers continued to develop the idea of a community supported event, providing financial benefit to community groups and local businesses. Instrumental to the ethos of the event is the focus of it being non-competitive, non-exclusive and showcasing the wonderful Noosa Country for people to return to at any time. Walkers come from all over Australia most years, and many choose to stay a few days in the region to further explore after the event.

The first year sold out in weeks and 90 walkers and 10 trail guides started the walk in October 2013. It has been a success every year since, and has grown to 200 walkers in 2021, even with the challenges of having to cancel or reschedule the event some years due to bushfires and Covid restrictions.

“I feel very proud to have been able to share this remarkable Noosa Country landscape and the local communities with so many walkers since 2013. The recent announcement of the Noosa Trail Master Plan and new funding by Noosa Council and the State Government shows that the profile of the trail network has been recognised for the quality if deserves.”

The success of the walk is largely due to the passionate involvement of the community volunteers and trail guides. In their friendly welcoming way, they play a key part in inspiring the walkers to get out on the trail and provide local knowledge and insights into the landscape and local towns.

“It is the authenticity of the event and the local people, coupled with the cracker Noosa countryside that have provided the event with such a good reputation,” Shaun said.

The trail guides are there as support to those who need help with navigating the route, or a little encouragement to keep going on the steep, hilly parts of the route. But as the route is marked for the event, the idea is to encourage walkers to be self-sufficient and to find their way across the landscape. Walkers have the freedom to walk by themselves with their thoughts or find new friends and share experiences. The guides are simply there as a soft support network to help if needed.

For many newcomers, this gentle entry into the joys of long-distance walking is just what they need to be inspired to get out in nature more often. These newcomers revel in the support network provided by the trail guides, and the friendliness of the community volunteers and the country towns.

“The trail guides are all different sizes and ages and that characteristic makes our less experienced walkers feel very comfortable as we definitely don’t look like we have stepped out of a magazine! But the trail guides have exceptionally good endurance and emotional and physical strength and make all walkers feel comfortable,” Shaun said.

Funds raised from the Great Noosa Country Trail Walk are put back into community projects identified by the Cooroy Future Group Inc. This year, the walkers will be able to see how the proceeds have enabled the planting of 2200 tree species through a donation to Noosa Landcare. The event also follows a zero-waste policy, and a “leave no trace” policy, which means their focus is on leaving only footprints behind on the trails.

Since its inception, this walk has been organised, managed and carried out by a host of passionate volunteers, local organisations and sponsors.

The Cooroy Future Group Inc (CFG) are grateful for the support, insights and collaborations that have built the foundations for the 2021 Great Noosa Country Trail Walk, and would like to thank Visit Noosa, Noosa Council, Hintercoast Transport, Rotary Club of Eumundi, Kin Kin Community Inc, Pomona Cooroy Lions Club, Pomona Cooran Cutters Footy Club, Cooroy Butter Factory Arts Centre, Pomona Railway Station Gallery, Board and volunteers of the Cooroy Future Group Inc, the founder of the GNTW, Shaun Walsh and his amazing team of Trail Guides for making the event possible.

To find out more about the Great Noosa Country Trail Walk, or to stay tuned for registrations opening for 2022, or to volunteer for the event, check out