Original post Oct 2019
Mount Cooroy on the northern Sunshine Coast has a special place in the xplor4 story. It was the backdrop for so much of our xplor'ing these last 2 decades, from a distance its iconic pyramid peak often stands out grandly. We have thousands of photos and memories from kitesurfing and paddling the ocean, rivers and lakes with Mt Cooroy visible in the background. As well as many other outdoors missions where far distant Mt Cooroy would provide a welcome reference for our navigation. We even personally purchased boulders from the mountain quarry for our own landscaping, as we liked so much the huge rocks of the seaway groynes and giant rockwalls all around Noosas beautiful waterways. In fact iconic Noosa main beach and Noosa Waters are help up by stone from the mountain quarry! Anyway only once a year Cooroy mountain is open to the public to climb and wonder!
The trail is super raw and rough just the way we like it, but not overgrown. And the views are simply awesome. Being a rare chance there is literally hundreds of likeminded outdoorsy crew climbing too. This gives it a special 'event' kind of ambience. And of course pot luck with the weather, luckily yesterday was awesome. So we share here some of the pics from this year, and invite you all to share yours or any questions. Enjoy, for the gallery click below, Share it round. Cheers.
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Original post and video 2019/20 Xmas/New Year
eMTB and machiato's
Original post and video Dec 2018
As summer bears down upon Australias East Coast, its been beach weather with plenty of board time for us here at xplor4. But behind the scenes theres a lot of development happening for trails and tours too.
As a consultancy and advocacy, for all kinds of outdoors activity. Its natural that xplor4 expands to incorporate new emerging activities like digitally augmented adventure touring,... and ebiking. The incredible explosion of high end ebiking in Europe and its reverbrations around the globe are something we wanted to examine at the source. Also as we are tragic two wheel addicts for a lifetime, and always admired Italian bikes, moto or pedal, from ducati to bianchi and so on... We didnt need to be asked twice to visit Italy to see whats happening in the exciting new growth sectors of ebikes and associated activity like ebike and eMTB tours!
So I put away our boards, picked up my helmet, and jumped on the longhaul to Europe.
Yes it was a great trip for R&D and riding. Lots learned and even more enjoyed. Italy has a lot of cool towns, trails,.. and bike culture. Getting about primarily by bike and augmenting our experiences with modern connectivity like mobile maptours proved many points we are passionate about at xplor4. Also the eMTB versatility was amazing! One day you tour Treviso for a full day and 50+k's, the next you commute to your appointments no sweat, and the next you tackle the Alpine trails, all on the same bike!!
It re-affirmed all the reasons we travel to Europe to investigate this r e-volution. All experience we will put to great use in Oz. To take advantage of this and all our expertise get in touch email@example.com
Ive been truly blessed with glorious weather for this trip, quite a bonus. Being there in the autumn turns out perfect for trail time too. Amazing colours, zero dust, hero dirt everywhere and a lot of awesome 'buffed by riding' singletrack. The feeling I got was that the user groups get along really well. With each other and also with the nature and caretakers. A lot like Australia but with perhaps even more tolerance and co-operation. Definitely things to share and benefit from...
Everywhere we took to the trails there were loads of hikers. And lots of mountain bikers. Both co-existing comfortably, I did NOT see any signage saying NO this and NO that, or shaking of fists or poles. I did see a mature happy community, everyone looking out for each other and smiling greetings. There was even quite a few mototrials groups out on their 2stroke trials bikes, trail riding together with all the other users! not many enduro mx'r though. I guess that they must have their own areas for flat out faster tracks and bigger obstacles. Hunters were prolific in one trail hub too! Nice to see all the different groups get along.
Back to the ebikes, or in this case eMTB. Because we are all about trails, but also because the high end e Mountain Bikes present the biggest growth segment and opportunities. If your not sure why write us and we can fill you in. For the meantime heres a quote from Eurobike 2018 eMTB conference:
The e-bike boom for bike tourism.
"For bicycle tourism, the e-bike is a disruptive technology at every level. But it is disruptive in a positive sense: the support that the electric motor provides to the rider makes bike tourism accessible to new target groups. In addition, the e-bike is making regions relevant to bike tourism that bike vacationers had left by the wayside in the past,” says Ulrike Saade, Managing Director of Velokonzept Saade GmbH. In addition, the digital transformation in bicycle tourism is acting as a catalyst for change. Also women and partners as an underestimated target group in bike tourism are catered to very well by eMTB. Swiss consulting firm Allegra Tourismus currently describes the wave of e-mountain bikes as a mega trend in the Alps."
And I can can see why. Whats not to love about being suddenly superhuman! Climb further faster higher, all for more of what we all love. We looked forward to the long uphill climbs, and being able to talk and laugh all the way up! Heres a vid of just that. Sorry no descent footage, my gopro packed it in but you can bet it was awesome!
Natural resource managers worldwide will have to manage this new phenomena on their turf, And xplor4 are at ground zero. Finding out how best to deal with this new wave. While we are in Italy I am very lucky to talk to managers in eMTB fleet rentals, and sales as well as other spinoff industry. I also get to try the very best eMTB bikes on the market myself. In fact I really see so much more of the local country and culture by expressly using the eMTB as my main means of enjoying European cities, towns,... and trails!!
While in Europe I took the opportunity to get qualified on some brose motor diagnostic procedures. Which is important considering the 15194 certification that is at the core of ebikes acceptance and integration worldwide. I also learned about the other levels out there like e-moto and saw first hand how these might complete the puzzle for legislators and the consumers. Exciting times!
I immersed myself in eMTB, as well as many expresso coffees and frozen gelato of course. I enjoyed the pizza, the camraderie and the culture. And one of the best takeaways from the trip was just how good a gateway ebikes are, to explore more, on the trails and in the towns. To save traffic and parking issues. And even as the seed of much needed change to low carbon lifestyles. With a fun high quality ebike, and potentially free solar fuel, who wouldnt want to get out on it more instead of burning carbon. So many initiatives to action. Get in touch to find out more firstname.lastname@example.org
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from xplor4.com
Original post Mar 2019
Mt Coonowrin (eldest son) with Mt Beerwah (mum) behind, from Mt Ngungun
Of the 13 peaks in the group generally reffered to as the 'Glasshouse Mountains' Id hazard a guess at Mount Ngungun being the most popular peak to summit.
Its 253m altitude trail is very well worn and highly trafficked, and for good reason. Its definitely the best bang for buck, brilliant views, an expansive and interesting summit to explore and an enticing lovers cave on the way. And its also closest to town (Glasshouse Mountains township). Which if you are ever nearby be sure to visit the information center at the township for fascinating insights into the story of this special part of our landscape. Weve heard whispers about the coming revamp of the Mt Ngungun trail which is very exciting, and an awesome multipeak route too! Definitely a lot of UX opportunities.
We will wrapup this brief writeup on that note so no spoilers, just stay tuned here and on our socials. For now we leave you with a few sunrise images from Mount Ngungun summit. Enjoy.
Where: Glasshouse Mountains township is about 1 hour drive north of Brisbane or 1 hr south of Noosa. The Mt Ngungun trailhead is a few km west on Fullertons rd.
Have you climbed Mt Ngungun or want to know more? comment below or chat button at right. And thanks to like and share.
Original post Jun 2018
Well as the season changes we also change the game up, and are presently busy mapping out exciting new paths and directions. One of the great things about being immersed in the outdoor lifestyle, is constant inspiration and amazing new perspectives. Particularly how interconnected low impact water and land activities are. To serve that connection we are exploring a raft of new goodies and services for xplor4. Get in touch to find out more email@example.com
You can also chat us online (tab below right) or try fakebook or instaspam.
Original post April 2020
Not so long ago when we were all free to go where and when we wanted WOW!. We decided on a week and a bits stay at Couran Cove resort on South Stradbroke island. Ive always been curious, especially hearing the entire resort sold for the grand sum of one dollar ! Located about halfway along the western side of the 22km long sand island, nestled around a man made lagoon, Its a fairly old and run down family resort where you cant be too snobbish or you wont enjoy it much. It really does run on 'island time' there. We had a good time and liked the laid back feel. Heres some pics of our stay below after which I will wrap up with some tips to make the most of a visit there.
You may find that the resort looks a little the worse for wear in parts. In the ultra regulated homogenized cottonwool norm weve become accustomed to in Australia it is a bit out of the box. But that did not deter us from getting amongst it. We particularly loved surfing the uncrowded classic little A frame beachbreak every day. I liked lazing around the pool every evening. And theres some nice walking through the livistonia forest, firebreaks and around the residential subdivision adjacent. Felt little bit like rottnest island with all the wallabies everywhere! I can imagine it could feel too isolated after a while, 1 week or so worked well for us. Heres some notes if you go while its still in its current somewhat delapidated state.
- Dont set the bar higher than the price - its cheap and cheerful.
- Dont expect to have many options for food and bev - BYO food is sensible. BYO booze is not officially allowed. Be discreet
- Dont go if you need nightlife and shopping. Definitely take a good read and comfy walking footwear for getting out and about
- Wifi only seemed to work near the reception and pool, check youve got a big data plan if your intending to stream stuff in your room
- It appeared there was 3 types of accomodation, 1over water flats close to the hub, 2units flanking the lagoon beaches, 3eco cabins in the bush a bit further afield
- Each of the eco cabin precincts is named in honor of a famous Australian artist. We found the commemorative plaques interesting
- Its a fair way to the isolated open beach, buggy transfers are free but sporadic so a walk or bike there might while away the day
- Bikes are included when you book through the resort, big plus especially if you stay any distance away from the lagoon or want to go surfing
- You can get some bargains privately through airbnb but check if they give you working bikes because that made a huge difference to our stay
- The pool was a mainstay, especially early and late when it was less crowded, great spot to watch the sunset from and grab a burger
- The inflatable floating fun park was fun for the younguns too as well as paddling around the lagoon but both are a shorterm diversion
- The arcade precinct has more to offer than just computer games, we passed on the minigolf and gyms but spent a fair time shooting basketball hoops and playing handball in the impressive full glass squash arena. BYO balls if you can
- The high ropes adventure course and climbing wall and beach+billabong camp that we saw mentioned are all long since defunct, along with attractions like the Eastern beach bar and bistro which is deserted too
- I have heard that the beach bistro can be hired out for functions and parties its certainly isolated enough nobody would care what went on
- We went surfing out there nearly every day although its unpatrolled, we did see some jetski tours and beach 4WD tour go by once if those activities interest you
- Its better part of an hour by ferry from seaworld, and thats not included in most bookings, otherwise byo boat seemed super if you have one
- We spent some time fishing but caught very little. Guests who arrived by their own boat could fish and explore further at their leisure! A good idea.
All in all our family rated this experience
If you like these articles then please say so and I'll keep em coming! Thanks to share your questions or comments below or to firstname.lastname@example.org cheers.
Mat is busily making the best of it from the family home in Noosa, Sunshine Coast, Australia. They are all looking forward to more low carbon local family adventures as soon as its clear to go!
Original post Feb 2019
Lake Eacham is an ancient crater lake on the Tablelands. A top spot to explore when in Tropical North QLD, loved by locals and visitors alike, highly reccomended by xplor4 as a #1 nature exploration.
For our entire lifetimes we have been regulars at Lake Eacham, A firm favourite that always delivers. Its a special place well worth the journey. A few hours drive from Cairns or Port Douglas, with plenty of other interesting sights along the way (watch our next posts for more). Make this your must do in TNQ!
Luscious dense rainforest surrounds the lakes emerald clear depths. There is a surfaced walking trail around the entire lake, a few km of gently undulating shaded peace, allow at least an hour to enjoy it. And bring bathers because the biggest attraction is a soak and a swim. Averaging near 40M deep of shimmering sweet water, there are parts of the lake that descend a lot deeper! There is even a spooky real life mystery of a dead body resurfacing from those depths after years of disappearance despite navy diver searches and all!! Dont let that put you off. Get wet and we guarantee you will feel better because of it. We always do. We often Stand Up Paddle the lake too with our own boards however its just as amazing to simply swim or snorkel.
Local aborigine legends relate an Adam and Eve kind of story about how Lake Eacham came to be. Two young hunters interfered with the sacred flametree against the warnings of the elders, Angering the great deity 'Rainbow Serpent Yamini' so causing catastrophic ruptures in the earth that created the crater lakes. There is some nice interp onsite about the natural history, however we would love to see more. And of course link it to culture and discovering.
Lake Eacham, and in fact the other tabelands lakes too, definitely qualify as an aqua-trail potential location. And actually we do want to share them through our own maps and apps for any of you interested. Management and user groups alike. Just get in touch with xplor4.com through our online chat below right or comments, call us, or even email@example.com
Have you been to Lake Eacham? thanks to comment and share.
MC - xplor4
Original post and video March 2019 more video including underwater shark swim chase later in this article
Green Island has always been a firm family favourite for us at xplor4, as it undoubtedly has been for many thousands of years and peoples too. Hundreds of generations have marvelled at its beauty. Find out about this great spot and its new boardwalk. Plus watch as we go:
SWIMMING WITH SHARKS !!!
As its name suggests this is indeed a luscious little green gem of an island in the crystal coral sea. The English name in fact comes from none other than Captain Cook himself, ostensibly honouring the ship Endeavours Astronomer Mr Charles Green when they sailed by in 1770. Although Id still bet he was referencing the effervescent evergreen foliage too. Miraculous foliage considering the absence of any fresh water spring or source. It’s a true rainforest, surviving purely on the regular rainfall of the tropics to replenish the islands own floating ‘lens’ or moisture sink in the sandy substrate.
The far longer established local indigenous aborigine peoples named the island 'Dabuukji'. Which translates as 'place of hole in the nose' and is said to refer to young blokes initiation rites, a turtle legend, and also a lake in the islands center thousands of years ago when it was many times the size that it is now. The mythical lake might just be why a rich rainforest developed and became self sustaining over thousands of years. Even after shrinking in modern times to just over ½ km long, 4m above sea level and about a 1.6km flat walk around the island perimeter of beach and coralstone. A lovely walk we’ve enjoyed many times, and that is now enhanced with the new interpretive boardwalk option in its interior. Although there is no lake in there now, the Green Island Boardwalk definitely offers a different perspective on this precious jewel in the sparkling sea.
Where and What will you find
Just under 30 km from the tropical tourist center - Cairns, out on the Great Barrier Reef. Green Island has always been a firm family favourite for us at xplor4, as it undoubtedly has been for many thousands of years and peoples too. Hundreds of generations have marvelled at its beauty, from aboriginal indigenous peoples over the ages, to seafarers, colonists and now us. Here’s why we rate it so special:
- The only Coral sand quay island on the GBR with its own rainforest gives it a truly unique vibe!
- The only Australian coral island so close to an international airport with tons of fast flights all over Australia
- Abundance of fast easy island transfers, experiences, nice snorkelling, and of course a bar. (there’s an expensive resort too)
OK that does mean that you will be sharing this sublime little patch of land in the middle of the sea with a lot of other tourists at all times. However it does NOT mean you can’t find your own patch of peace if you know where to look. And that’s absolutely why we keep coming back year after year. This year in addition to relaxing and soaking up the ambiance, we went with a little extra mission in mind. To explore and incorporate the new interpretive boardwalk from a professional trails perspective, and still seek out a little island solitude too..
Green Island boardwalk image xplor4 2019
Context of our personal history, xplor4 and Green Island 'Dabuukji'
Growing up in the tropics Green Island was always a local icon. We were lucky to have a boat so quite often ended up there after fishing and diving on surrounding reefs and quays. There were many other daytrips on the ferry and a few extracurricular excursions too. In the 80’s I used to race windsurfers at Green Island. And in the 90’s I was the first to kitesurf there, then the first to kitesurf from Green Island out to the outer reef, and the first to kitesurf from the mainland to Green Island and back again. Also to relive my original kite gatecrash of the sailboard titles. That was one heck of a day!
Green Island kitesurf mission map xplor4 Alltrails archive
These days... We generally take the Great Adventures morning boat, which takes around an hour but is big and comfortable. As you disembark on the islands long jetty you enjoy a walk above the water with a view of the island, and often you will see fish, turtles and sharks as we did before you even set foot on the island! The shark in the video below was a fair bit bigger than our youngest boy so I held him close whenever we snorkelled. Harmless reputations aside, blacktip reef sharks are an awesome mean looking machine up close, and a real highlight of any reef adventure. As are the island walks. Like the DES website says, the jetty walk is a must do on any visit.
No wildlife was bothered by anyone in this episode ;)
We will be exploring more islands, with our snorkels at the ready. We also organise tours as well as source and sell equipment!
Arriving at the actual island we went through the shaded atrium area where you can eat, drink, dive into the swimming pool and hire snorkel gear etc. From there it’s a few steps north to the patrolled beach, complete with hire deckchairs. Then but a few steps further brings you to Marineland Melanesia, the islands own museum of islander artefacts. As well as home to the world’s largest captive crocodile - Cassius. He is an absolute behemoth and reputedly actually ate someone once! Partly for this reason we don’t drop in to see him, right before going snorkelling with everyone else. Sort of taints the snorkelling otherwise.
The actual snorkel sightseeing has suffered from extensive coral bleaching, but is still worth it. Although we always go for at least one snorkel off the northern flagged and patrolled beach, our fallback is actually around the southern side of the jetty. Accessed either from the pretty southwestern sandy cove, or otherwise from the gangway steps at the bend in the jetty. This trip was no exception with a fair part of our snorkelling done from the jetty gangway, giant clams, schools of fish, spotted stingrays, sharks and all. Snorkelling is allowed ONLY on the non boat side of the jetty, for obvious reasons.
And now about the new boardwalk.
The Green Island boardwalk eco-walk is a relatively recent addition and utilises plastic rubbery planks and tiles which I hope are all recycled. Although only a few hundred meters in length it has plenty of interpretive signage and even an interactive postcard flipboard so could possibly add an hour to your journey across or around the island. We did not note any promotion of the boardwalk prior to arriving at the start. For example on the ferry, at the terminal or even the Atrium. And so it misses a critical point on our ‘UX matrix’. Although it is promoted online...
Market/advertise/introduce the experience effectively
Once on the boardwalk it’s very built, parallel/geometric as opposed to natural and freeflowing, it could perhaps could have been done differently to achieve a more natural organic feel. But at least it seems wheelchair and walking frame friendly. The Path tends to curve back and forth to the trees of interest, and is generally just a few feet wide allowing it intimacy if not authenticity. It seems like a bit more foliage than necessary was cleared or cut back but in general appears to be low impact. The colours of the boardwalk are darker than the island palette. perhaps they could have gone lighter and varied it more, as well as the width. It does look like the materials will hold up well and that its positioned safely.
Appropriately constructed trail surface and route
At regular intervals along the walk there are big and little signs about the natural and cultural heritage. A story with some resonance can be found for most people, however I'd say engagement is somewhat dampened by lack of emotion. As usual the real extent of human and environmental travesty inflicted by colonisation is glossed over if not omitted for pleasant painless reading. Our view at xplor4 is to bring back a bit of raw for authentic impact. And although the signage seemed somewhat gaudy compared to what we envisage these days in the trails industry, given the context of bright Coral reef and also Asian arrival numbers, let’s say its mostly ok. We thought the postcard flipboards were cool too.
Interpretive signage and interactive installations
This is by no means a rigorous evaluation, barely even a start. But well we were on holidays! Anyway at a glance we give it 3 or even a bit more out of 4 stars overall. That said there are several suggestions we’d make to improve Green Island boardwalk UX straight away. And naturally xplor4 can do complete professional case studies as well as help with tours. Do you have a trail or experience in mind, otherwise any you will want to explore? we can help both professional and private enquiries. Get in touch via our online chat below right or comment, call us, or even firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. Tips and tricks to enjoy Green Island
- Weather, pick your day for the least wind. And if it’s raining in Cairns that does NOT mean it’s raining out on the reef, and v/v
- Park under the Pier complex to save your car and everything in it being superheated by the sun. Its close anyway
- Take 2+ litres of Water per person, (refilled recyclable bottles of course as at xplor4 we always refill and recycle)
- Maximum clothing coverage ie stinger suit. Minimal exposed skin hence need for sunscreen that harms the reef
You may know that many sunscreens can be dangerous to your health and skin, and also to the Great Barrier Reef. And of course excess sun exposure is deadly too. Combine that with the real risk of stings in the water and it makes a whole lot of sense to wear something with longlegs and longsleeves , ie stinger/sunsuit instead of lathering up in microchemical substances.
Some other curious facts about Green Island.
Home of the world’s 1st underwater observatory, opened in 1954 ! and 1st island cinema
England’s Queen Elizabeth the 2nd visited in 1970 as part of her retracing of Captain Cooks voyage
George Lawson the islands 1st colonial caretaker and ahead of his time conservation advocate, died on the island in 1907 aged 68. A plaque and interp sign honoring his legacy are at Yorkeys Knob esplanade park on the mainland. see below
Have you been to Green Island or intend to go? write your comment below, or chat us. If you are in Cairns, and the weather is good, get on out there then tell us what you think. Thanks to like and share our articles and share them round.
about the author - Mat Colefax.
Mat grew up in the vibrant luscious tropical world heritage environments along QLD's coral coast. He still shares the stoke on it even now.
Original post May 2019
Do you deliver a product, experience or service? Do you manage an area, asset, or user group? Are you interested how people interact with your enterprise. 'User Experience' is our specialty and passion. We all want great outcomes, and we all benefit from great 'user experience' design. No matter what it is that you do, or what drives you, there is scope to explore and anticipate. Put yourself in the picture, let xplor4 put our unique UX matrix to work for you. email@example.com
Original post Oct 2018
Long time ago in a forest far far away... Ewoks rode wild! ... No actually its the much cuter still T'man and R'girl, our xplor4 family finding some good trailtime together on our home turf circa 2009. And a great trip to Mount Buller VIC before it got famous for MTB. With Robby Williams not the singer but the rider extraordinaire. My custom pegz setup got so much love. I custom fabricated the pegz from my old windsurf boomclamps, and full length seatpads for the groms to get them grooving on my bike with me. Got to say its great to see my original invention now so widespread and well used with so many imitations on the market. Like all the awesome stuff Ive pioneered over the years theres a real buzz in seeing others get onboard to feel the stoke. So many kids are rocking pegz of all sorts with their mums and dads these days. No I never patented or commercialized my invention. But super stoked to see it bring so much joy around the world!
About the author: Mat's life always revolves around outdoors pursuits, particularly boards and bikes. When their babies were little Mat made some pegs that clamped onto his MTB downtube so they could properly ride with him. Another 1st.