Grey Nomads' Goddess of Abundance
Goddess of Abundance!
Yep, it’s quite a job description, but apparently Pomona dutifully fulfilled her Roman responsibilities, providing wine for Bacchanalian revelry and copious nourishment for the 4 million people living within the ancient Roman Empire.
And her Queensland namesake – a small town in the Noosa hinterland – possesses all the hallmarks of modern abundance. Pomona is a restful place brimming with heritage charm, good food and friendly locals that we found to be perfect for a summer stint.
The town sits in the shadow of Mount Cooroora, a 439-metre volcanic plug that is mesmerizing. It can be seen from many, many parts of the former timber settlement once known as Pinbarren Siding. In what appears to be a tribute to Roman times, the town attracts both revelers and runners to its famous King of the Mountain Festival. The International Mountain Challenge, celebrating its 40th anniversary on 29 July 2019, is the climax of the festival. It sees dozens of athletes, legs pumping, race from the town centre through streets and bushland to the mountain where they conquer a thin, steep path to reach the summit. The winner is the person who reaches that peak and then scurries back to the starting line first.
If sprinting up a mountain goat-track is not your thing, then choose another time to visit and you’ll be well positioned to take a self-paced hike to the summit instead. The walk does require a decent level of fitness and the top section is steep. The reward is views of the hinterland which could be followed up by a relaxing picnic in the bordering park. This park is also the starting point for most hikers and hugs a street that has plenty of room for bigger rigs. (No camping allowed.)
Back in town we found fab coffee and tasty treats at SpillDeBeans, which boasts an entrance off the main street that leads to a cool, covered courtyard that blends industrial chic with garden tranquility. Definitely worth a visit!
For those who have built up a different type of thirst, the Pomona Pub is only 100 metres away along Art Deco shopfronts. We’d already heard of “Darby”, a ghost that reputedly enjoys the company of visitors who choose to dine at the hotel’s restaurant. I know, I know – nearly every second historic pub in Australia claims to have a spectre, but locals are adamant that this is far more than a tourism trick. However, neither DK nor me felt anything otherworldly, so there was no real evidence of spirits (err... other than the alcoholic type). Then again, the large meal, 14 foot ceilings, original JV walls and fret-work verandas of this 106-year-old watering hole do serve as a decent distraction.
Appetites appeased, head across the street to the community-run Pomona Railway Station Gallery. Such is the spirit (no, not spirits) of this little town that when Queensland Rail announced they would be demolishing the old signal room and station master’s room back in 2001 the community stepped in, raised funds and shuffled the buildings to their current location. The Gallery has proved so popular that it has grown from the original two buildings to five.
These are not the only old ones in this heritage-focussed town. Just on the other side of the railway line we found The Majestic Theatre. Oh yes, apparently it is supposed to be haunted too, but it definitely doesn’t need any fallacious promotion because this little gem has a huge claim to fame. It is the world’s longest-running silent movie theatre.
An extended stay in Pomona that covers a weekend is a must because on the second and forth Saturday of each month you too can enjoy a walk through history with a silent movie. For authenticity, each silent movie screening is accompanied by live piano to create the suspense, humour and drama that is otherwise missing in a silent movie experience. The theatre is another survivor from a bygone era thanks to the determination of the Pomona community, and this venture is another community-run affair. It also hosts modern and classic movies, plus themed fun nights.
Ready to head to the Noosa hinterland now? The Pomona Caravan Park, adjacent to and run by the Showground Society, provides large powered and non-powered sites, has a camp kitchen, open spaces, shaded and sunny spots, is close to town (about 15-minute walk), and is pet friendly. The views of Mount Cooroora lend a touch of splendour to the setting. The park is closed to visitors in early September each year for the Noosa Country Show.