Islands of Bli Bli
An island is like a gift-wrapped birthday present. You can see it but you don’t know what’s inside. The imagination runs wild conjuring up all manner of possibilities. Give in to temptation and unwrap the Islands of Bli Bli.
Coolum Creek, Maroochy River
10 to 15 kilometres / 2.5 to 4 hours
Coolum Creek Wharf, West Coolum Rd, Mount Coolum
GPS: 26°34’09.5″S 153°03’53.1″E / -26.569300, 153.064760
Unsealed ramp, Stoney Wharf Road, Bli Bli
Small parking area
Open areas, tidal, light traffic, shallow areas
It’s not surprising that islands have played a starring role in many memorable novels, movies, and television shows. Robinson Crusoe, The Swiss Family Robinson, The Coral Island, Lord of the Flies, The Beach, Jurassic Park, Gilligans Island, Fantasy Island, and Lost just to name a few. The fact that an island is isolated and difficult to reach makes it a place of great mystery and an enticing blank canvas for the creative storyteller.
The Islands of Bli Bli might sound fictional, but they are real. They’re not the venue for the secret eighth Harry Potter story, nor an exotic destination in The Adventures of Tintin. They are a cluster of four lush mangrove-covered islands in the Maroochy River near the village of Bli Bli.
This paddle starts at the site of an old wharf in Coolum Creek and takes you south into the Maroochy River for a closer look at the islands before returning. There are other places you could launch – the Stoney Wharf Road ramp in Bli Bli is on the western shore of the river right next to the islands, and Muller Park is on the eastern shore 3 kilometres downstream – but starting in Coolum Creek adds an extra dimension to the adventure.
There’s not much of the Coolum Creek wharf left. If there wasn’t a sign saying so, you wouldn’t know that up until 1922 this was the only way for mail and groceries to get to Coolum. A bloke called William Coulson used to deliver supplies here in his boat, and a horse and buggy carried them the rest of the way.
Launch into Coolum Creek and go left. The Maroochy River is about one kilometre downstream.
Go left again when you meet the river and follow it down to the islands. Take care not to go left again into the drainage canal.
Take some time to explore the channels between the islands. Watch for the many birds, butterflies, and crabs that use them as their home. You will probably see fish jumping here and there. One or two could even shoot right over the top of your boat or board. That’s not as rare as you might think.
Look for distinctive 680 metre high Mount Coolum to the north. You will see a lot of it on the way back to the creek but it is particularly impressive from the islands.
The official website for Coolum Beach says the name Coolum “would appear to be derived from local Aboriginal word gulum or kulum, meaning blunt or headless, referring to the shape of Mount Coolum, which has no peak. According to Aboriginal legend, Ninderry knocked off Coolum’s head and it fell into the ocean and is now Mudjimba Island.”
After completing the 10 kilometre return journey, consider paddling straight past Coolum Creek wharf. This could add another 5 kilometres to your trip but it is worth the effort. The upstream sections of the creek are sheltered and wonderfully peaceful. The forest is tall and green, birds twitter away happily, and the remains of an old Moreton Sugar Mill Tramway (cane train) bridge cross the creek on each side of yet another island.
Bream, flathead, jewfish, mangrove jack, whiting
Waterfront Hotel, 2/46 David Low Way, Diddillibah, (07) 5458 2777
Bli Bli Riverside Caravan Park, 297 David Low Way, Bli Bli, (07) 5448 5207
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.Dr. Seuss