Usually when I visit the Sunshine Coast, it’s a bit of a whirlwind trip with not enough time and too many activities to fit into a little vacay. But this time it was more leisurely and there was time to explore a little further afield – and there were some little gems to discover. One of them was historic Cooroy.
Cooroy is a small heritage village in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, an easy 20 minute drive from Noosa. Starting life in the 1860s on the back of the tall timber stands in the region, the village grew as the railway reached town thirty years later and supported the local forestry and dairying industries. It once housed two sawmills and a butter factory, but nowadays plays host to an internationally acclaimed library and national body art festival instead. Of course, not this year folks, thanks to Rona.
A walk around town with a historic walking trail map in hand (available from the library or local tourist offices) will reveal a lot about the town’s past days. Don’t miss the railway station, the post office and the timber drying kiln, all heritage listed. If you want to delve a little deeper, drop in to nearby Pomona to visit the Noosa Shire history museum. It was founded by the Cooroora Historical Society in 1985 mainly as a means to preserve what was rapidly disappearing of the past and is open Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday from 10am to 3pm.
The forestry and industries of days of old may have disappeared but Cooroy is reinventing itself with a little bit of cool. It even has its very own app which introduces you to the business around town and all the latest events and happenings. Just type in Cooroy into your App Store on your Iphone (everyone’s got one of those, right?).
Parts of Cooroy’s history have been reimagined. The Butter Factory, operating from 1915 to 1975, now serves as a vibrant arts centre with regular exhibitions, events and workshops where you can release your inner artist. We were fortunate to luck the Maleny Cream @ the Butter Factory exhibition featuring ceramics, sculptures, paintings and drawings by a range of talented artists. If you’re in the area, you’ll have be quick to get a look as it’s only on until 8 September. The whimsical little creations made from childhood treasures were delightful. Baby boomers – keep your eyes out for the old cuisinnaire rods that appear in a couple of the pieces.
If you’re looking for the newer cool side of town, you must drop into the local library, awarded as one of the six coolest libraries in the world. The world! Built in 2009, this innovative building cut into the ground boasts a grassed roof that doubles as an ampitheatre, complete with a little garden and its own supply of frill necked lizards out the back. Apart from books and cutting edge technology, it also features a terrific little shopfront selling the wares of local artists and groups as well as a cafe and various community spaces including workshop area which runs a series of workshops on various topics. It even has its own robot called Dewey.
There’s a plethora of cafes and places to eat in the village. In fact, the local librarian told me there’s actually a choice of 30 from whence to get your caffeine fix. The hotel is a hub of activity with a string of events and live music gigs. It’s not the original hotel; sadly the grand old timber one burnt down which seemed to be the fate of a lot of buildings around the area.
If you venture a little further out you’ll find The Shed at Cooroy, a cute cafe doubling as a vintage and retro shop where old is becoming the new chic and you may end up taking home more than you intended. Just around the corner is Hinter auctions which has just started regular auctions of old and interesting stuff.
Fairly new kid on the block is Copperhead microbrewery, a small bespoke brewery of warm timbers and cool stone which produces a number of unique brews including its ‘experimental batches’ or EBs. It doesn’t wholesale anywhere so you have to try them onsite. It’s a brewery which pays just as much attention to the food as they do to their ever changing array of beers. As a non-beer drinker, I turned instead to the gin collection and discovered a blood orange gin by Nosferatu. I might even have added a bottle of that to my own collection the very next day.
We didn’t even get to venture to the nearby hinterland villages of Ponoma and Kenilworth, or get to visit Lake Macdonald or the nearby Noosa Botanic Gardens. Next time.