Traditional owners refuse to remain 'invisible' at site
MOUNT Coolum was considered the "Uluru of the Sunshine Coast" to traditional Kabi Kabi owners who refuse to remain "invisible" on their own estate.
Applicant for the Kabi Kabi people, Kerry Jones held an important connection with the mountain - known as Mt Gulum in traditional language - saying being a part of conservation processes was crucial.
A new draft management and visitor plan for 2019 was announced on Wednesday, with strategies to improve natural and cultural values, while working to protect threatened native species after years of growing popularity.
Mr Jones said being a part of this plan was significant after years of no contribution. The new plan replaces the current strategy formed in 1998.
"We want to be a part of everything that's going on at our traditional sites," he said.
"It's about protecting but also about learning the values of this mountain and learning our stories.
"At the end of the day, we all have the responsibility to take care of this beautiful place."
'Gulum' - meaning blunt, headless or no peak - was a part of a vast lay of land connected to the Kabi Kabi people.
The Dreamtime Story surrounding Mt Coolum incorporates Mudjimba Island, Maroochy River and Mt Ninderry, where legend tells of an epic battle for love where a warrior named Coolum lost his head, turned to stone - becoming Mt Coolum.
The mountain has become a popular walking track with visitor numbers sky rocketing over the last two decades.
In 2000, about 40,000 people visited the mountain. In 2018, more than 240,000 people conquered the site.
Visitor impacts rapidly declined the condition of the site, with the new strategy aiming to minimise the impacts through defined track alignments and proper viewing points.
Ecosystems on the heath were being threatened by curious visitors wandering off the trail for a better view, causing accelerated erosion.
In partnership with National Parks and Wildlife Services, the plan aimed to increase fire and visitor management and community partnerships, while increasing traditional owner engagement in decisions.
Senior ranger for Sunshine Coast Parks and Wildlife, Omar Bakhach said most people didn't realise the harm caused by wandering off the track.
"There is usually no evil intention to destroy the site, but once people start it can be hard to stop," he said.
While the new plans won't physically affect climbers, Mr Jones said developing "spheres of influence" across the political, business and community sectors was important to push traditional interest to the forefront.
To view the drafts, visit www.parks.des.gov.au. Consultation processes end on March 13.