Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Cooloola Section, Great Sandy National Park

What's special?

Sand, wind and water have sculpted a varied landscape at Cooloola, the largest coastal vegetation remnant on southern Queensland’s mainland. High sand dunes, coloured sand cliffs, sweeping beaches, sandblows, freshwater lakes, tall forests, paperbark swamps and wildflower heath plains make this a spectacular part of Great Sandy National Park.

Cooloola protects the headwaters of the Noosa River, the cleanest river in south-east Queensland and the only coastal river in Queensland with most of its catchment protected in a national park.

Cooloola is a refuge for plants and animals whose habitats have dwindled with coastal development. Some of the animals living here, such as the Cooloola acid frog and ground parrot, are rare or threatened with extinction, and the park has one of the few remaining emu populations in coastal Queensland.

For thousands of years, Cooloola has been a special place for Aboriginal people. Through timber-getting, agriculture and sand mining, Cooloola has undergone many changes in the past 150 years. Today, Cooloola protects valuable coastal remnants and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state.

Exploring Cooloola

Exchange the bustle of the busy coastal resorts for Cooloola’s peace and tranquillity. Canoe the calm Noosa River waters, walk through flowering heaths and forests or discover the early timber-getting industry.

Explore the beach around low tide. See coloured sands, jagged sand cliffs, migrating humpback whales and the Double Island Point lighthouse. Go fishing at Teewah Beach, the Noosa River and Kin Kin Creek. Restrictions apply.

See flowering banksias, heath shrubs, ground orchids and Christmas bells in spring and summer. Go birdwatching by day or spotlighting at night.

Stop for a picnic on the shores of Lake Cootharaba at Mill Point, or picnic at Fig Tree Point, Harrys or campsites along the upper reaches of the Noosa River. You can also picnic at Freshwater, Seary’s Creek or in the rainforest at Bymien. Toilets, barbecues and picnic tables are provided at Bymien, Freshwater, Fig Tree Point and Harrys. Seary’s Creek has toilets and tables but no barbecues. Take insect repellent.

Camp overnight at Harrys, Fig Tree Point, Freshwater, campsites along the Noosa River or along Teewah Beach. Picnic tables, toilets, barbecues, firewood and water are provided at Fig Tree Point and Harrys. Take your rubbish home with you or put it in the bins at Teewah Beach. Boil the water for five minutes before drinking. The Freshwater camping area has tent and caravan sites, water, toilets, showers, a public telephone and bins. Book your campsite in the holidays. Take insect repellent.

The Cooloola Wilderness Trail has bush camping areas without facilities at Neebs and Wandi waterholes. Take fresh water and a fuel stove for the Trail, the Noosa River campsites, beach campsites and Poverty Point camping area. Open fires are not allowed. Remove all rubbish.

Boat landing sites are provided along the Noosa River. A private campground is located at Elanda Point.

Go for a scenic drive along the Cooloola Way, between Rainbow Beach Road and Kin Kin–Wolvi Road. Discover more about the park by visiting information centres at Kinaba and Rainbow Beach or reading signs at Bymien, Seary’s Creek, Harrys, Freshwater and Elanda Point.


Wheelchair-accessible toilets are at Harrys and Freshwater.

Getting there

Cooloola lies between the coastal resorts of Noosa Heads and Rainbow Beach and is two to three hours’ drive north of Brisbane. Conventional access is limited. The best way to see this part of the park is by boat, walking or four-wheel-drive.

For southern Cooloola, walk from Elanda Point or boat along the Noosa River from Boreen Point (which has a boat ramp) or Elanda Point. You can reach Harrys camping and day-use area by conventional vehicle from Cooloola Way via Kin Kin or Rainbow Beach but the road is rough and four-wheel-drive is recommended.

For northern Cooloola, beach access is possible from Rainbow Beach or Tewantin. Take the vehicle ferry across the Noosa River at Moorindl Street, Tewantin and four-wheel-drive along the beach to Freshwater. Drive 3km to Bymien picnic area from the Rainbow Beach Road, 4km south of Rainbow Beach. The 16km sand road from Bymien to Freshwater camping and day-use area is four-wheel-drive only.

The upper Noosa River campsites are accessible by canoe or electric-powered boat only. To reach Poverty Point, turn off 13km south of Rainbow Beach township then drive 6km to the camping area.

Commercial tours operate from Brisbane, Noosa and Rainbow Beach.

Sources & Further reading

Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading