Skip links and keyboard navigation

About Cooloola Recreation Area

Getting there and getting around

Cooloola is widely accessible by walking, canoeing, boating or four-wheel-drive vehicle. Photo: Robert Ashdown, Queensland Government

Cooloola is widely accessible by walking, canoeing, boating or four-wheel-drive vehicle. Photo: Robert Ashdown, Queensland Government

The Cooloola sandmass, one of the largest accumulations of sand built up over the past 500,000 years, is best appreciated by walking or driving. Photo: Robert Ashdown, Queensland Government

The Cooloola sandmass, one of the largest accumulations of sand built up over the past 500,000 years, is best appreciated by walking or driving. Photo: Robert Ashdown, Queensland Government

Carlo Sandblow is an easily accessible, high vantage point on the Cooloola sandmass offering great views of Double Island Point. Photos: Marc Dargusch, Queensland Government

Carlo Sandblow is an easily accessible, high vantage point on the Cooloola sandmass offering great views of Double Island Point. Photos: Marc Dargusch, Queensland Government

Cooloola lies between the coastal towns of Noosa Heads and Rainbow Beach. Noosa Heads is about 155km (about a 3hr drive) and Rainbow Beach is about 240km (about a 3hr drive) north of Brisbane. Access by conventional vehicles (two-wheel drives) to Cooloola is limited to the outer extremities. The best way to see Cooloola is by walking or four-wheel-driving. Vehicle access permits (VAPs) are required when traversing beaches and some inland tracks within the Cooloola Recreation Area.

Two-wheel-drive (2WD) access

Conventional or 2WD vehicles can access Elanda Point, just north of Boreen Point, and Bymien picnic area from Rainbow Beach Road. For Bymien, turn off 4km south of Rainbow Beach, onto 3km of unsealed road. The 16km sand road from Bymien to Freshwater camping and day-use areas, and beyond to Teewah Beach, is 4WD only. Inland tracks are not suitable for caravans. Camper trailers must have good clearance.

Four-wheel-drive (4WD) access

Cooloola’s sand tracks are rough, and are suitable for high clearance 4WD vehicles only. All vehicles must be registered and have a valid Cooloola Recreation Area vehicle access permit (VAP) displayed on their windscreen when traversing designated tracks and beach areas.

Coastal areas

Beach access is possible from Rainbow Beach or Tewantin (near Noosa). Access from Tewantin is across the Noosa River ferry at the end of Moorindil Street, Tewantin and then via the beach access points at Noosa North Shore. Travel north along Teewah Beach to Freshwater, Double Island Point and Rainbow Beach. Mudlo Rocks (in front of Rainbow Beach township) and the ongoing erosion to the sand cliffs between Rainbow Beach and Double Island Point may impede travel.

Inland tracks

Cooloola Way, another access road into Cooloola, links Rainbow Beach Road with Kin Kin-Wolvi Road. Some sections may be impassable after wet weather. Check local conditions before traversing this council-maintained road. Check track conditions (PDF, 395K)* before going.

River access

Commercial boat tours, up the Noosa River, operate frequently from Noosa and Tewantin.

Canoes, kayaks and small power boats can be hired from Boreen Point and Elanda Point private camping area. Power boats can be launched from the boat ramp at Boreen Point. Canoe and kayak launching facilities are only available at Elanda Point and Harrys camping and day-use areas.

Wheelchair accessibility

Wheelchair-accessible facilities are available at Freshwater camping and day-use areas, Bymien picnic area, Fig Tree Point and Harrys camping and day-use areas.

Back to top

Park features

The Noosa River's excellent water quality is largely due to the protection of the upper catchment, and provides great low-key camping experiences. Photo: Above Photography

The Noosa River's excellent water quality is largely due to the protection of the upper catchment, and provides great low-key camping experiences. Photo: Above Photography

Mirror-image surface reflections at The Narrows, on the upper Noosa River. Photo: Robert Cameron, Queensland Government

Mirror-image surface reflections at The Narrows, on the upper Noosa River. Photo: Robert Cameron, Queensland Government

Sand, wind and water have sculpted a varied landscape at Cooloola, the largest remnant of coastal vegetation on the southern Queensland's mainland. High sand dunes, coloured sand cliffs, sweeping beaches, sandblows, freshwater lakes, tall forests, paperbark swamps and wildflower heath make this a spectacular part of the Cooloola Recreation Area in the Great Sandy 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 frogs and ground parrot, are rare or threatened with extinction. The park also has one of the few remaining emu populations in coastal Queensland.

The scenic waterways of the upper Noosa River and its tributaries form part of the Noosa River catchment with two-thirds of this catchment being protected within the national park. The dark tannin-stained waters offer spectacular reflections of the twisted paperbarks and bloodwoods that line the riverbanks. The surrounding wetlands of the upper Noosa River also provide extensive nurseries for juvenile fish and other aquatic life.

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

Back to top

Camping and accommodation

Change the working week to a walking week and experience bush camping in Cooloola. Photo: Robert Ashdown, Queensland Government

Change the working week to a walking week and experience bush camping in Cooloola. Photo: Robert Ashdown, Queensland Government

Cooloola offers a variety of camping experiences from social and family camping areas to remote bush and river sites, all located in beautiful natural surroundings. Camper numbers in the more remote areas are limited, to provide a low key, high quality camping experience.

Camping permits

Camping permits are required prior to camping at all sites and fees apply. Capacity is limited, so book early to avoid disappointment during peak periods. Rangers may visit camps during the day to check permits and answer questions.

Camping permits for special groups

Certain groups may be able to request a special account—group account, school account or commercial operator account—for booking camping.

Also see: Permits for special group accounts

Other organised groups

If you are planning an organised use of a QPWS-managed area contact your local QPWS office to discuss your proposal.

  • Group activity permits may be required for weddings and large, organised group activities, such as school excursions or adventure training.
  • Maximum group sizes and other conditions may apply depending on the location you wish to use and the type of activity you are planning.
  • It is recommended that group leaders view the Teachers' and group leaders' package (PDF, 247K)* for planning hints and safety information.

Other accommodation

There is a range of holiday accommodation in and around Rainbow Beach, Tewantin and Noosa. Private camping areas are located at Elanda Point and Boreen Point. For more information see tourism information.

Back to top

Things to do

Enjoy a large range of bushwalking opportunities from short 200m walks to the 102 km Cooloola Great Walk, a five-day long distance walk. Photo: Robert Ashdown, Queensland Government

Enjoy a large range of bushwalking opportunities from short 200m walks to the 102 km Cooloola Great Walk, a five-day long distance walk. Photo: Robert Ashdown, Queensland Government

The multi-coloured sand swirls are best observed along the eroded sand cliffs between Rainbow Beach and Double Island Point. Photo: Briony Masters, Queensland Government

The multi-coloured sand swirls are best observed along the eroded sand cliffs between Rainbow Beach and Double Island Point. Photo: Briony Masters, Queensland Government

Middle Rocks—the northern boundary of the Cooloola Recreation Area. Vehicle access permits are required past this point. Photos: René Burgess, Queensland Government

Middle Rocks—the northern boundary of the Cooloola Recreation Area. Vehicle access permits are required past this point. Photos: René Burgess, Queensland Government

A range of minimal impact, nature-based recreational opportunities are available, including canoeing or kayaking on the upper Noosa River. Photo: Colin Lawton, Queensland Government

A range of minimal impact, nature-based recreational opportunities are available, including canoeing or kayaking on the upper Noosa River. Photo: Colin Lawton, Queensland Government

Enjoy fishing on Teewah Beach. Be aware of recreational fishing rules and stay well out of traffic lanes. Photo: Queensland Government

Enjoy fishing on Teewah Beach. Be aware of recreational fishing rules and stay well out of traffic lanes. Photo: Queensland Government

Cooloola Recreation Area offers many recreational opportunities for visitors to explore and enjoy the natural surrounds.

Walking

Walking is a good way to experience Cooloola. Tracks range from short circuits to overnight hikes and lead to some of the park's best features.

Driving

Roads through Cooloola allow visitors to explore its magnificent natural features. Take time to plan trips and enjoy the area's highlights. Please read driving safety for more information. Vehicle access permits are required when traversing designated areas in the Cooloola Recreation Area.

Teewah Beach (vehicle access permits required)

  • 40km of open beach
  • suitable for 4WD vehicles only
  • access to the Teewah Beach camping area, Freshwater camping and day-use areas, and to the base of the headland called Double Island Point*.

* Captain Cook named the headland Double Island Point, because from out at sea it appeared to be two separate islands.

Cooloola Way (no vehicle access permits required)

  • 32km of dirt and sand road
  • suitable for 4WD vehicles only
  • connects Rainbow Beach Road and the Kin Kin-Wolvi Road
  • passes through Cooloola's western river catchment, a low area of wet heath plain, comprising of wallum (Banksia aemula) that flowers prolifically in spring, and taller forests with scenic views east over the Cooloola sandmass
  • has access points (good for long-distance walking pick-up and drop-off points) to parts of the 49.7km Cooloola Wilderness Trail—a wonderful walk in spring.

Freshwater Road (vehicle access permits required between Bymien and Teewah Beach)

  • a rough, 19km sand track
  • suitable for 4WD only from Bymien
  • passes through some of Cooloola's diverse plant communities—coastal rainforest, tall blackbutt forest, scribbly gum woodland and coastal banksia communities
  • continues to the Freshwater camping area and day-use area and ends 500m further at Teewah Beach
  • 2WD vehicles can access the first 3km—off Rainbow Beach Road—to a small rainforest patch surrounding the Bymien picnic area, a cool, shaded spot with information displays, toilets and tables (wheelchair-accessible) and a short walk among some of the area’s best representative rainforest species.

Kings Bore circuit track (vehicle access permits required)

  • 18km one way—allow at least 1hr
  • track is rough in sections and requires careful driving
  • suitable for high clearance 4WD vehicles
  • access is off Rainbow Beach Road north of Cooloola Way
  • final section onto Teewah Beach—Kings Bore Road—is steep and one-way only
  • Visitors should be self-sufficient and carry vehicle recovery gear on this remote, unsigned track.
  • known locally as Kings Bore Road, Pettigrews Road or the eastern and western firebreaks
  • The circuit drive, part of Cooloola’s fire management access trail network, totals 40km and is reached by taking the northern branch off Kings Bore Road.
  • Read the map carefully and check conditions before heading off as these trails may be closed due to wildfires in the park.

Harrys Hut Road (no vehicle access permit required)

  • 10km road a very rough sand track
  • can be flood damaged with potholes and washouts
  • suitable for high clearance 4WD vehicles
  • ends at Harrys camping and day-use area on the bank of the upper Noosa River
  • winds through open scribbly gum woodlands, mixed eucalypt open forests, rainforest, and melaleuca woodlands on low riverine floodplains.

Poverty Point Road (no vehicle access permit required)

  • 6.3km rough, sandy track
  • suitable for 4WD vehicles with high clearance
  • expect some long stretches of deep loose sand with some sections becoming inundated after heavy rainfall.
  • turn-off to Poverty Point camping area is off the Rainbow Beach Road.

Picnic and day-use areas

Day-use areas with toilets and picnic tables:

  • Bymien
  • Freshwater
  • Searys Creek
  • Harrys
  • Fig Tree Point

Water (untreated) is available at:

  • Freshwater
  • Harrys
  • Fig Tree Point

Also note:

  • Treat all water before drinking.
  • Bring a fuel stove or use barbecues if provided.
  • Open fires are not permitted.

Also see: Cooloola visitor sites and facilities summary

Back to top

Swimming

Swimming in lakes, the river and the ocean is not recommended. People have suffered serious injuries in water-related accidents in Cooloola. There are no patrolled swimming areas in Cooloola, except at certain times on a section of beachfront—clearly signed—slightly north of the Rainbow Beach township. Check local signs for patrol times.

Be aware and avoid tragedy!

  • Always stay with children when near water.
  • Sharks are common in the river and ocean.
  • Rips occur frequently in the ocean.
  • Bluebottles (a species of marine stinger) are prevalent during spells of northerly winds.
  • Do not jump or dive into water. Serious injuries have occurred.

Canoeing

Canoeing is the best way to experience the upper Noosa River. Follow the guidelines below to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

  • Stay clear of power boats, as they have limited manoeuvrability.
  • Paddle close to the riverbanks.
  • Stay clear of channel markers to allow passage for power boats.
  • Ensure all gear is in waterproof containers.
  • Strong winds often occur in the afternoon, making the river and Lake Cootharaba rough to cross. Plan to travel in the morning when conditions are likely to be calm.
  • Take note of distances and travelling times and plan trips accordingly.
  • Never canoe or kayak alone.
  • Wear lifejackets at all times.
  • Observe the no-landing zone between Fig Tree Point and Harry's hut.
  • Consider others; leave enough space for others to tie up at jetties.
  • Store canoes in the racks (where provided) overnight.

The area contains natural hazards. Take care and beware of submerged logs, overhanging branches and shallow water. Read water safety guidelines for further information.

Canoeing details
From-to Distance Time
Boreen Point–Kinaba 7km 1hr 30mins
Elanda–Kinaba 4.5km 1hr
Kinaba–Fig Tree Point 2km 20mins
Fig Tree Point–Harry’s hut 5km 1hr
Harry’s hut–camp site 1 3.5km 35 mins
Camp site 1–2 1.7km 15mins
Camp site 2–3 2.5km 30mins
Camp site 3–4 1km 10mins
Camp site 4–5 1km 10 mins
Camp site 5–8 5 km 1hr
Camp site 8–9 1km 10mins
Camp site 9–13 2km 20mins
Camp site 13–15 3 km 30mins

Boating

All Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) regulations apply within Cooloola, including the Noosa River, all adjacent coastal waters and the Great Sandy Marine Park. Refer to the MSQ trip preparation checklist for a safe and enjoyable day out on the water. Read water safety guidelines for further information.

Upper Noosa River:

  • A six-knot and no-wash speed limit applies upstream from the Kinaba Information Centre. This protects the riverbanks from erosion. If vessels generate wash, please slow down. Penalties apply.
  • Motorised vessels are permitted only to camp site 3. Electric motors and non-motorised vessels are permitted past camp site 3.
  • Observe the no-landing zone between Fig Tree Point and Harry’s hut.
  • Sail boat mast should be lowered before entering the upper Noosa River due to overhanging branches.
  • Releasing effluent from boats is prohibited.

The area contains natural hazards. Take care and beware of submerged logs, overhanging branches and shallow water.

Boating details
From-to Distance Time Speed limit
Boreen Point–Kinaba 7km 15mins 40 knots
Kinaba–Fig Tree Point 2km 15mins 6 knots
Fig Tree Point-Harry's hut 5km 30mins 6 knots
Harry's hut-camp site 3 7.7km 45mins 6 knots

Note:

  • Slow down if your vessel still creates wash in the 6 knot speed limit areas!
  • Motorised vessels are prohibited upstream of camp site 3.

Coastal waterways:

  • Coastal waters north of Double Island Point (including the headland) and the Tin Can Inlet are protected within the Great Sandy Marine Park and regulations apply.
  • There are no boat launching facilities within Cooloola. Nearby council-managed boat ramps are located in Boreen Point, Tewantin and Noosaville (Noosa River), Carlo Point (north of Rainbow Beach) and Norman Point (Tin Can Bay).

Back to top

Fishing

Recreational fishing is popular along Teewah Beach and the upper Noosa River. Bag limits, size and seasonal restrictions apply to some fish species. For more information visit Fisheries Queensland, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry for rules and guidelines.

On Cooloola’s coastal beaches:

  • The coastal waters from Double Island Point to Inskip Peninsula, including the Tin Can Inlet, are protected within the Great Sandy Marine Park and restrictions apply.
  • All rubbish from fish cleaning, including offal, scales and unused bait, should be buried at least 30cm deep just below the high tide line.
  • If fishing at night, wear high-visibility vests and use glow sticks to alert approaching drivers.

On the upper Noosa River:

  • All rubbish from fish cleaning, including offal, scales and unused bait, should be treated as rubbish and be removed from the area.
  • In Queensland, the annual closed season for Australian bass is 1 June to 31 August.
  • Commercial netting is not permitted in the upper Noosa River and Kin Kin Creek.
  • Use lures rather than live bait to reduce the chance of harming freshwater turtles or eels.
  • Be mindful when using crab pots and bait traps.
  • Turtles can become trapped and drown in wire collapsible traps that have wider entrances than the round mesh crab pots—consider using more turtle-friendly crab pots and methods.
  • Use appropriate length of float line for depth and tide, and weight pots to reduce amount of loose line that can entangle turles.

Viewing wildlife

Cooloola offers excellent opportunities for viewing wildlife. With more than 350 bird, 75 mammal, 21 frog and 80 reptile species, visitors to Cooloola are guaranteed to experience a close encounter of a natural kind. Listen for choruses of frog calls along the upper Noosa River and lake systems. View flocks of migratory birds along the coastal beaches. These birds are often tired from long flights so please drive around the resting flocks, not towards them. View wildlife online for more information.

Back to top

Things to know before you go

Take extra drinking water when walking or visiting Cooloola's sandblows. There is no shade. Photo: Briony Masters, Queensland Government

Take extra drinking water when walking or visiting Cooloola's sandblows. There is no shade. Photo: Briony Masters, Queensland Government

Bring fuel stoves for cooking. Campfires are prohibited in most areas, and everywhere when fire prohibitions are in place. Check before going. Photo: Photo: Briony Masters, Queensland Government

Bring fuel stoves for cooking. Campfires are prohibited in most areas, and everywhere when fire prohibitions are in place. Check before going. Photo: Photo: Briony Masters, Queensland Government

A camping tag with booking number must be displayed at all camp sites for rangers to check. Photo: Alyssa Muller, Queensland Government

A camping tag with booking number must be displayed at all camp sites for rangers to check. Photo: Alyssa Muller, Queensland Government

Essentials to bring

First-aid kit and prescription medicines

Bring adequate supplies of prescription drugs needed and a well-equipped first-aid kit.

It's wise for at least one person in a visiting group to have a current first-aid certificate.

Drinking water

Water is available at some locations including Harrys day-use area and Freshwater camping and day-use areas.

Treat all water collected before drinking.

Use water treatment tablets or boil for at least 5-10mins.

Fuel stoves preferred

Bring fuel stoves for cooking.

Test them before leaving home and never use them in confined spaces, such as tents.

Firewood

Firewood is not provided.

Collecting bush wood, including twigs and leaves, from Cooloola is illegal.

Please do not bring bush wood from other places as there is a risk of introducing pests and plant diseases.

Bring only clean firewood, such as milled, untreated timber off-cuts.
Also note: campfires are only permitted at Poverty Point and Teewah Beach camping areas unless a fire prohibition is in place, when all fires are banned. Check before going (PDF, 395K)*.

Extra hints

  • Pack sealable garbage bags so you can take all rubbish out.
  • Reduce packaging at home and limit the amount of rubbish brought onto the park.
  • Bring small sealable canisters for cigarette butts. Don't discard butts in the park.
  • Pick up and read a current visitor guide, and a Cooloola Conditions Report.

Seriously consider bringing:

  • portable toilets for beach camping
  • Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), especially if travelling into remote areas
  • mobile phone and spare battery if needed
  • sunscreen and insect repellent
  • torch and spare batteries
  • toilet paper and trowel for areas without toilet facilities
  • wet weather gear
  • sand pegs, tarpaulins, extra poles and ropes
  • $1 coins for hot and cold showers at Freshwater camping area.

Back to top

Permits and fees

All camping areas within the Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park are e-permit camping areas. Camping in these areas is only available to those who have obtained a camping permit for the specific camping areas and for the dates booked. Fees apply.

On-the-spot fines apply for camping without a permit, driving in designated areas without a valid vehicle access permit (VAP) or for not displaying a valid permit.

Camping areas are accessible only through the Cooloola Recreation Area and drivers need current vehicle access permits (VAPs) to traverse some areas. Permits must be obtained prior to arrival.

Schools and other organised groups

Group activity permits are required for weddings and large, organised group activities such as school excursions and adventure training. Visit ecoaccess for more information. Maximum group sizes and other conditions apply depending on location and activity type.

It is recommended group leaders view the Teachers' and group leaders' package (PDF, 247K)* for planning hints and safety information.

Permit refunds

For information on permit refunds, please read: Camping and vehicle access permit fee and pre-paid booking refunds (PDF, 176K)*.

To apply for a refund please email: camping.refundenquiries@nprsr.qld.gov.au.

Opening hours

The Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park is open 24 hours a day, except for periods of scheduled maintenance or during severe weather events. See permit issuing centre locations and operating hours for more information.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted in the Cooloola Recreation Area, except under permit or authority, including travelling in vehicles, vessels and trailers through the recreation area.

Dogs

Dogs are only permitted on the beach in a designated dog-friendly area on Teewah Beach, between the 1st beach access cutting on Noosa North Shore and on the beach at the northern end of Teewah township. Access to the dog-friendly area is only via the beach access cuttings at Noosa North Shore. Travellers heading north to Inskip Peninsula Recreation Area with their dogs may only travel via the Cooloola Way or the Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach roads.

Conditions apply in the dog-friendly area:

  • Dogs must be on leads and under control at all times.
  • Dogs must stay in the intertidal zone—between the low and high tide mark.
  • Wrap or bag dog droppings and remove from the Recreation Area.
  • Do not allow your pet to chase birds or other wildlife.
  • Please ensure that your dog does not prevent ranger access to view permits.
  • See map of this area (PDF, 2.3M)* (refer to page 2)

Horses

Horseriding is only permitted on the beach between the beach closure area at the mouth of the Noosa River to the northern end of Teewah township. The beach access cuttings at Noosa North Shore are the only access points to the horseriding trail.

  • Horses are not permitted within the beach closure area at the mouth of the Noosa River.
  • Observe all signage.
  • On the beach, horses must stay in the intertidal zone—between the low and high tide mark.
  • Wrap or bag horse manure and remove it from the recreation area.
  • Horses must not exceed walking pace between the 1st and 3rd beach cuttings.
  • Horses can still access the Sunshine Coast Regional Council designated horse trail, but must not traverse the beach north of Teewah township or other walking tracks and firebreaks in the Cooloola Recreation Area, including the Cooloola Great Walk.

Climate and weather

The Cooloola region enjoys a mild, sub-tropical climate. The average daily temperature range is 22–30°C in summer and 12–22°C in winter.

Always check weather warnings before heading off. Tsunami, cyclones and extremely high tides may occur in coastal areas. Visit the Bureau of Meteorology website for weather forecasts or tsunami updates and stay tuned to a local radio station for weather updates.

Park closures and warnings

Prior to arrival, check Park Alerts and the Cooloola Conditions Report (PDF, 395K)* (updated regularly) for park closures or warnings about issues, such as floods, fires, road and walking track conditions and scheduled maintenance.

Fuel and supplies

Fuel and supplies are available at Rainbow Beach, Tewantin, Noosa and other nearby towns. Boreen Point has only limited supplies.

Back to top

Staying safe

Most areas in Cooloola are remote. Mobile phone reception is intermittent or non-existent in places. Help can be hours away. Factor in good communication and navigation equipment when planning to visit. Photo: Queensland Government

Most areas in Cooloola are remote. Mobile phone reception is intermittent or non-existent in places. Help can be hours away. Factor in good communication and navigation equipment when planning to visit. Photo: Queensland Government

Serious accidents have occurred in Cooloola. Stay informed and stay safe; don't let a trip turn in to a tragedy. Photo: René Burgess, Queensland Government

Serious accidents have occurred in Cooloola. Stay informed and stay safe; don't let a trip turn in to a tragedy. Photo: René Burgess, Queensland Government

A car that has been wrecked by the incoming tide after getting stuck on Mudlo Rocks. Photo: Alana Kippers, Queensland Government

A car that has been wrecked by the incoming tide after getting stuck on Mudlo Rocks. Photo: Alana Kippers, Queensland Government

Look out for and slow down when driving past people on the beach. They often cannot hear vehicles over the sounds of wind and surf. Photo: René Burgess, Queensland Government

Look out for and slow down when driving past people on the beach. They often cannot hear vehicles over the sounds of wind and surf. Photo: René Burgess, Queensland Government

Exposed sand cliffs can collapse without warning. Keep your distance and supervise children at all times. Photo: Rob Cameron, Queensland Government

Exposed sand cliffs can collapse without warning. Keep your distance and supervise children at all times. Photo: Rob Cameron, Queensland Government

The rocks in front of Rainbow Beach township may be impassable at times. Conditions change daily. Always check first.

In an emergency

Phone Triple Zero (000) for all life threatening, critical or serious emergencies, or for reporting a bushfire or acts of arson. If having difficulty connecting to Triple Zero (000) from a mobile phone, try dialling 112.

Be prepared for disaster

Tsunami, cyclones and extremely high tides may occur along coastal areas. The Noosa River is also susceptible to flooding, cutting off escape routes.

For comprehensive information on preparing for floods, cyclones, tsunami and severe storms, visit Queensland Disaster Management Services.

  • Before leaving home, check Bureau of Meteorology weather forecasts and warnings.
  • Tune into a local radio station for updated warnings and advice.
  • Check for up-to-date Tsunami warnings; telephone 1300 TSUNAMI (1300 878 6264) or visit www.bom.gov.au/tsunami.
  • Be aware that an Emergency Alert may be received at any time.

Check for park alerts

For more information, check park alerts and read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

Pack good communication gear

Recommended:

Optional extra:

  • Handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) device and spare batteries
  • satellite phone.

Prepare an emergency kit

This could include:

  • portable transistor radio and spare batteries
  • torch and spare batteries
  • extra warm clothing
  • first-aid kit (and be trained in first aid)
  • list of emergency contact numbers.

Safety is our concern, but your responsibility.

Walking safety

Stay alert when on the beach. Approaching vehicles are difficult to hear over the sounds of the surf and wind.

Drinking water

Fresh water is available from most camping and day-use areas in the Cooloola Recreation Area. Treat all water collected in the recreation area before drinking.

Water obtained from pools, creeks or sub-surface supplies on Teewah Beach is not suitable for drinking, cooking, showering or swimming. The use of portable sand spears to collect sub-surface water from the foredune areas is an offence and is not permitted. Obtain fresh water at the nearby Freshwater day-use area, but treat before drinking.

Water safety

  • The river system, lakes and coastal beaches are not patrolled and swimming is not recommended.
  • Sharks are common in the river system and ocean beaches.
  • Do not dive or jump into the water; submerged obstacles can be anywhere.
  • Do not dam or swim in creeks or soaks along Teewah Beach.
  • Be aware of and stay clear of power boats travelling along the river.
  • If fishing at night, wear a high visibility vest and use glow sticks to alert approaching vessels on the river, or vehicles on Teewah Beach.

Sand safety

Exposed sand dunes and sand cliffs along Teewah and Rainbow beaches are unstable and can collapse without warning. Climbing on, sliding down or digging into them is dangerous and can lead to serious injury or death. Do not park close to dunes. Never allow children to play near or on sand dunes and sand cliffs.

Driving safety

All Queensland road rules apply on all roads, vehicle tracks and beaches in Cooloola. Police patrol all areas of Cooloola. Speed checks and breath testing can happen at any time.

Speed limits in Cooloola are generally:

  • 80km/hr maximum speed on the eastern beach unless otherwise signposted
  • 50km/hr speed limit on all beaches adjacent to camping and day-use areas
  • 20km/hr recommended on all other inland roads, unless otherwise signposted
  • 10–20km/hr maximum in camping areas.

Read the Driving on sand safety guide (PDF, 98K)* for more detailed information on rules, preparation, hazards and other handy sand driving tips. Before leaving home, check the Cooloola Conditions Report (PDF, 395K)* (updated regularly) for beach and track conditions.

The following are essential guidelines to remember when driving in Cooloola.

  • Avoid travelling at night; washouts and rocks can be difficult to see.
  • Always use established or formed tracks when accessing designated beach camp sites behind the foredunes.
  • Use existing tracks when accessing the Teewah Beach camping area.
  • Do not drive over vegetation, park vehicles or set up camp on a vegetated foredune. Penalties apply.
  • Slow down around pedestrians as approaching vehicles are difficult to hear above the sounds of surf and wind.
  • Take extra care and slow down around busy meeting spots, such as Double Island Point and Teewah Beach camping area.
  • Mudlo Rocks, just south of the beach ramp at Rainbow Beach, are generally impassable at high tide and often at low tide as well, depending on conditions. Use extreme caution; only experienced drivers should attempt the crossing. Conditions change daily. Always check first.
  • Leisha Track northern entrance is subjected to continuing natural erosion and at times this can impede travel. The track may become totally inaccessible on or around high tide so plan to travel at or near low tide.
  • Do not park on the Leisha Track.

Hazards mentioned in the safety guide can occur within the Cooloola Recreation Area and change on a daily basis:

  • Deep washouts can happen at any time, particularly after heavy rain and rough seas.
  • Wave action can expose dangerous rocks overnight, including Mudlo Rocks.
  • Debris, such as tree trunks and coffee rock, is often exposed in the intertidal zone— between high and low tide marks—following severe weather events.

Use extreme caution; only experienced drivers should attempt crossing Mudlo Rocks if conditions are good enough—don’t let a trip turn into a tragedy. Use Freshwater Road as an alternative route.

Campfire safety

Campfires are prohibited in Cooloola, except in the camping areas at Teewah Beach and Poverty Point or in QPWS-provided fire rings. Fires are not permitted anywhere during periods of fire prohibitions. Check before going (PDF, 395K)*. Penalties apply.

Always be vigilant with fuel stoves, gas lights and lanterns.

Never leave a campfire unattended and extinguish all fires with water before leaving the area. Do not dispose of non-combustible or toxic material (e.g. glass, cans, plastics) in a campfire. Penalties apply.

Bushfires

Bushfires can pose a threat to walkers and remote campers. They can occur without warning, so be aware of, and prepare for the dangers.

Walkers stay alert! If there is a bushfire, follow the walking track to the nearest set-down or pick-up point (generally an intersection between the walking track and a road), road, beach, lake or creek for refuge. Large logs, a ditch or burnt ground can also provide protection. Avoid areas of heavy fuel, such as deep leaf litter, and stay low to the ground where the air is coolest and contains the least smoke.

In extreme conditions, the walking track and camping areas may be closed at short notice for safety reasons.

Planned fires

Rangers carry out planned fuel-reduction burning. Please observe all signs. Report a fire by calling Triple Zero (000) as soon as possible and try to alert rangers in the area.

Report suspected arson

Help stop arson by reporting the time, location and description of the suspected arsonist/s or the vehicle (including registration number) they are in. Early reporting can save lives and property.

In all emergencies dial triple Zero (000). If having difficulty connecting to Triple Zero (000) from a mobile phone, try 112.

For more information, please read the QPWS Fire management brochure and guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

Back to top

Looking after the park

Never remove coloured sands or carve into cliff faces. They may collapse without warning. Photo: Briony Masters, Queensland Government

Never remove coloured sands or carve into cliff faces. They may collapse without warning. Photo: Briony Masters, Queensland Government

Keep goannas (pictured) and other wildlife wild. Secure all food and rubbish bags in the car or in bins, if provided. Photo: Queensland Government

Keep goannas (pictured) and other wildlife wild. Secure all food and rubbish bags in the car or in bins, if provided. Photo: Queensland Government

Keep waterways clean. Many species depend on it. Photo: Marc Dargusch, Queensland Government

Keep waterways clean. Many species depend on it. Photo: Marc Dargusch, Queensland Government

The following guidelines will help to care for Cooloola so it can be enjoyed now and in the future. Read walk softly guidelines for further information.

Everything is protected

Leave flowers, ferns and all other plant material undamaged. What is easy to take may take years to replace. The coloured sand cliffs on Cooloola's beaches, which are sculpted by natural erosion, are highly susceptible to damage. Never climb up, slide down or carve into cliff faces. They may collapse without warning. Sand tobogganing is prohibited.

Keep forests free of pests

Clean all camping and personal gear before entering the recreation area. Insects, weed seeds and soil pathogens can stick to boots and camping equipment and can quickly spread through the area, sometimes killing native species.

Leave your pets at home

Domestic animals are not permitted in the Cooloola Recreation Area, except under permit or authority, including travelling in vehicles, vessels and trailers through the recreation area.

Keep our waterways clean

Never use soap or shampoo in creeks or rivers. Soaps, detergents, sunscreens, toothpaste and urine all pollute waterways. They promote algae growth and affect the purity of the water. Scatter washing water 100m from waterways. Bring non-greasy foods, so dishes can be cleaned without detergents.

On the upper Noosa River, use only defined canoe landing sites or jetties, and observe the no-landing zone. Sedges and reeds on the riverbanks are fragile. In areas without facilities, tie canoes or kayaks rather than dragging them ashore.

Do not release unwanted aquarium fish or plants into creeks or rivers. Introduced pest fish and plants can kill native fish and make the river an unpleasant place to visit. They can reduce water quality and limit recreational opportunities.

Carry it in – carry it out

Take all rubbish out of the recreation area. Bins are not generally provided except in the Teewah Beach camping area or near the entrance to Freshwater camping area. Don't burn, bury or leave anything. Carry out sanitary products, disposable nappies and cigarette butts. Do not put these in the toilet facilities. Remove excess food packaging at home and take strong sealable bags or containers to store food and rubbish. Avoid bringing glass as it can’t be crushed and if broken glass can harm other visitors and wildlife. Do not hang rubbish bags from trees or tents.

Let native animals find their own food

Do not feed or leave scraps for wildlife. Animals that are fed can become aggressive to humans. They become reliant on the food source, suffer from disease or over-populate to an extent that they dominate an area and aggressively exclude other wildlife.

Use a fuel stove

Bring a fuel stove for cooking. If campfires are permitted, remember to bring firewood as it is illegal to collect bush wood from the recreation area and national park. Check for any fire bans or prohibitions before going.

Generator use

Generators are prohibited in Cooloola except in the Teewah Beach camping area where only low decibel generators (up to 2.0 Kva) are permitted between 7am and 9pm.

Bush toileting

If camping away from facilities, it’s best to bring a portable toilet. A portable toilet disposal facility is located at the beach camper service bay at Freshwater day-use area. If bush toileting is necessary, bury all faecal matter and toilet paper at least 50cm deep and at least 100m from waterways. Cover the spot well. Bag and remove all sanitary items, including disposable nappies, from the recreation area.

Stay on the tracks

Stay on designated tracks to avoid getting lost. Shortcuts damage plants and cause erosion. If walkers get lost, help can be hours away.

See the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting the environment and heritage in parks.

Back to top

Park management

The Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing's (NPRSR) Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS), manages the Cooloola Recreation Area, to conserve its natural and cultural resources. The area is protected to the low water mark under the Recreation Areas Management Act 2006.

The Great Sandy Region Management Plan guides the management of the area.

Tourism information links

Gympie Cooloola Tourism
www.cooloola.org.au
Lake Alford, 24 Bruce Highway, Gympie QLD 4570
ph 1800 444 222
fax (07) 5482 8205
email enquiries online

Noosa Visitor Information Centre 
www.visitnoosa.com.au
61 Hastings Street, Noosa Heads Qld 4567
ph 1800 002 624
email enquiries online

Cooloola Recreation Area visitor guide:

The Cooloola Recreation Area visitor guide provides compact versions of key information listed for the area, including maps, travel distances and times.

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see www.queenslandholidays.com.au.

Further information

Contact us

Back to top

* Requires Adobe Reader

Last updated
14 May 2013