Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park Sunshine Coast

Pitch your tent in the Freshwater camping area—a perfect bush camping setting within walking distance to the beach. Photo credit: © Chris Whitelaw

Four-wheel drive past towering coastal sand cliffs and coloured sands in the paradise of Cooloola Recreation Area. Photo credit: © Tomek Z Genek

Freshwater (tent site) camping area

Wake with the birds after a peaceful night’s sleep surrounded by scribbly gum woodland, just a stone’s throw from the beach.

Accessible by

  • High clearance 4WD

Campground facilities

  • Telephone (pay phone)
  • Toilets (flush)
  • Waste transfer station
  • Wheelchair access (may require assistance)
  • Tent camping
  • Hot showers (paid)
  • Cold showers
  • Tent camping beside car
  • Short walk to tent
  • Walking
  • Scenic drive

Take the family back to nature in this popular bush camping area just behind Teewah beach and close to the Freshwater day-use area. It's an ideal spot when strong winds are forecast.

Wake to laughing kookaburras or screeching sulphur-crested cockatoos and watch small silvereyes, brush turkeys and pigeons feasting on midjin berries in autumn. See large goannas stalking the camping area—be sure not to share your meals with them! Stroll the Freshwater Lake circuitor explore Teewah Beach before continuing your journey on foot along the Cooloola Great Walk or by 4WD along the Cooloola beach drive or Freshwater Road 4WD track.

Getting there and getting around

Freshwater camping area is in Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park, on the Sunshine Coast between Noosa Heads and Rainbow Beach (155–240km north of Brisbane).

Via Freshwater Road access

  • From Brisbane, drive about 160km north on the Bruce Highway towards Gympie. At the southern edge of Gympie, turn onto Tin Can Bay Road and drive 42km, then turn right onto Rainbow Beach Road.
  • From Maryborough, drive 57km south on the Cooloola Coast Road, then turn left onto Tin Can Bay Road and drive 3.5km, then turn right onto Rainbow Beach Road.
  • Drive 25km on Rainbow Beach Road towards Rainbow Beach township, then turn right into Freshwater Road, drive 3km to Bymien day-use area and continue 11.5km on the sand road to the Freshwater camping area.

Via Cooloola Beach drive

  • Remember all vehicles must be registered, drivers must be licensed and all Queensland road rules apply, even on beaches.
  • A vehicle access permit must be purchased. Display the permit on your windscreen before driving in the recreation area.
  • There are two main entrances to Cooloola beach drive—the southern beach entrance on Noosa North Shore allows access onto Teewah Beach, and the northern beach entrance allows access onto Rainbow Beach.
  • At the northern beach access, visit the Manta Ray barge office, Shell service station, Rainbow Beach caravan park (BP service station) or the Rainbow Beach Tourist Information Centre for vehicle access permits, also camping permits and other information (business hours only).
  • At the southern beach access, visit the Great Sandy Information Centre, located near the Noosa River ferry on Moorindil Street for vehicle access permits, also camping permits and other information (business hours only).

From the south

  • From Brisbane drive 135km north on the Bruce Highway or the Sunshine Motorway to Tewantin; or from Gympie drive 58km south and east on the Bruce Highway to Tewantin.
  • In Tewantin, follow Moorindil Street to the Noosa River ferry, cross the river to Noosa North Shore, and drive 2.2km on Maximillian Road.
  • Turn right onto Beach Road and drive 2.1km on the bitumen road, then turn sharply to the left (past the first beach access cutting) and head north on the Wilderness Track.
  • Drive 2.8km to the end of the bitumen road and turn onto the 4WD-accessible third beach cutting sand track. You must enter and exit the beach via this track.
  • Drive 37.5km north along the Cooloola beach drive to the Freshwater Road entrance and drive 500m to the camping area.

From the north

  • From Brisbane, drive about 160km north on the Bruce Highway towards Gympie. At the southern edge of Gympie, turn onto Tin Can Bay Road and drive 42km, then turn right onto Rainbow Beach Road.
  • From Maryborough, drive 57km south on the Cooloola Coast Road, then turn left onto Tin Can Bay Road and drive 3.5km, then turn right onto Rainbow Beach Road.
  • Drive 29km on Rainbow beach Road into Rainbow Beach township, then turn left onto Kirchner Avenue.
  • After 300m, turn right onto Griffin Esplanade and follow this road to the council car park and vehicle access ramp to access the beach.
  • Drive south along the Cooloola beach drive for 10km, drive 1km inland on the Leisha track, the travel a further 3km south on the beach to the Freshwater Road entrance and drive 500m to the camping area.

Before you visit

Opening hours

Freshwater camping area is open 24 hours a day. Check-in to your camp after 2pm and check-out by 11am on the day of departure.

Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Tent sites are suitable for walk-in camping. Four-wheel-drive vehicles can park beside bollarded tent sites. Photo: René Burgess, Queensland Government

Tent sites are suitable for walk-in camping. Four-wheel-drive vehicles can park beside bollarded tent sites.

Photo credit: René Burgess, Queensland Government

Trailer sites provide room to reverse off-road camper trailers or 4WD camper vans into sites. Photo: René Burgess, Queensland Government

Trailer sites provide room to reverse off-road camper trailers or 4WD camper vans into sites.

Photo credit: René Burgess, Queensland Government

Features: Freshwater camping area provides shady, sheltered sites set among scribbly gum woodland about 500m inland from the beach. It offers formalised camping with defined sites.

Location: 8km south of Double Island Point along Teewah Beach or approximately 40km north of 3rd cutting on the Noosa North Shore.

Maps:

No. sites: 59 sites (separate but not numbered), including designated group camping areas. Book early to avoid disappointment.

Access: The camping area can be accessed by 4WDs only via Freshwater Road from Rainbow Beach Road or Teewah Beach. Vehicle access permits are required to access this camping area.

Suitable for: Tent camping beside a car; walk-in camping; and, camper trailers (with good clearance). Group camping site is available. Four-wheel-drive vehicles can park beside bollarded tent sites. Trailer sites provide room to reverse camper trailers or camper vans into sites.

Surface: Sand

Facilities: Water (treat before use), flushing toilets, hot ($2 coins needed) and cold showers, rubbish bins and a pay phone. Free gas barbecues are provided at the nearby day-use area. There is a portable toilet waste disposal facility adjacent to the Freshwater day-use area.

Open fires: Prohibited

Generators: Prohibited

Essentials: Fuel or gas stove, rubbish bags, $2 coins for camping area hot showers (NB: $2 buys 4mins of hot water), first-aid kit, insect repellent and sunscreen.

Mobile phone coverage: Not available. There is a pay phone opposite the amenities facility at the camping area.

Bookings: Advance bookings required for holiday periods including long weekends and public holidays.

Visiting safely

For more safety information see Visiting Cooloola Recreation Area safely and camp with care.