Sunshine Coast Dreamtime – the legend of Mount Coolum

I’m not sure this is true of all expats, but I’ve always felt a bit more ‘local’ (on setting up home in a new place) once I learn about the stories behind my new local place names. Local mythology and storytelling varies greatly around the world but, especially in places with a long history, there is almost always an interesting story to be discovered.

Take the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, just north of Brisbane and where I am currently based, for example. The region has a glorious coastline of epic surf beaches and wetlands, rivers, mountains, and further inland rainforest and waterfalls. The landscape really is very special.

So, imagine my delight in learning of the local Aboriginal peoples’ dreamtime stories relating to this landscape. It’s a good story

Coolum, Queensland, Australia

Sunshine Coast Mount Coolum Dreamtime

Well, legend has it that a young Aboriginal warrior called Coolum was in love with Maroochy, a beautiful girl from his tribe. All was well as the tribal elders had approved their union. However, one day, a warrior called Ninderry from another tribe kidnapped Maroochy while Coolum was out hunting.

The two warriors engaged in an epic battle for Maroochy, and while fighting, Ninderry struck Coolum with a club, knocking his head right off. Coolum’s headless body turned to stone, forming what is now known as Mount Coolum, and his head rolled into the sea and became Mudjimba Island.

The spirit gods were so incensed by Ninderry’s behaviour (his interference in the approved union of Coolum and Maroochy and killing of Coolum) that they turned Ninderry to stone and he became Mount Ninderry.

On learning of what had happened to her beloved Coolum, Maroochy fled inland to the Blackall Ranges, where she wept so much her tears flooded down the mountain range to the sea, forming the Maroochy River.

Maroochy resolved to locate Coolum’s spirit, and so she transformed herself into a swan so she could travel up and down the river to search for her lover’s spirit.

While dramatic, and clearly the stuff of legends, I love stories such as these that really bring the landscape to life around you. I doubt I’ll ever look at Mounts Coolum and Ninderry, or even the Maroochy River, in quite the same way again.

Have you ever lived anywhere that local mythology truly brought to life?

Main photo credit: Angus Veitch

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