Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park Sunshine Coast

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

Journeys

Walking is a good way to experience Cooloola. Tracks range from short circuits to long hikes and lead to some of Cooloola’s best features. Please read the advice on walking safety and long distance walking below before walking in Cooloola.

  • Discover wallum banksia woodlands, a rainforest ‘scrub’, colourful flowering shrubs and varied wildlife, such as birds, wallabies and even platypus.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    3.6km return
    Time suggested
    Allow 3hrs walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 3 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Immerse yourself in this beautiful landscape as you spend a day exploring along the eastern bank of the upper Noosa River.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    7km one way
    Time suggested
    Allow 3hrs walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 4 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • Toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Emerge from rainforest onto Carlo Sandblow, an impressive ‘moonscape’ of windblown sand with amazing views over the coast and Fraser Island.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    2.8km one way
    Time suggested
    Allow 1hr walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 3 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • Lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Discover why this beach is named Rainbow Beach on this walk to the stunning naturally-sculpted cliffs of coloured sands.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    8km return
    Time suggested
    Allow 3hrs walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 3 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Experience the very best of Cooloola, from massive sand hills and hidden rainforests to spring wildflowers and beautiful reflections mirrored on the river's surface.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    102km one way
    Time suggested
    Allow 5 days walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 4 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • Toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • Lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Discover one of Cooloola’s iconic natural wonders, a large sandblow on towering sandmass hills with panoramic views over the upper Noosa River.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    12km return
    Time suggested
    Allow 5hrs walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 4 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • Lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Tackle a challenging 4WD track through the western catchment of the Upper Noosa River.

    Journey type
    4WD, trail bike
    Distance
    30km one way
    Time suggested
    Allow 1hr driving time.
    Grade
    unrated
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • No walking
    • Scenic drive
  • Wind down the windows and inhale the salty sea breeze as you cruise the majestic sweep of Cooloola’s long white beaches.

    Journey type
    Cycle, 4WD, trail bike
    Distance
    60km one way
    Time suggested
    Allow 1.5hrs driving time.
    Grade
    unrated
    • No tent camping
    • Toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • No walking
    • Scenic drive
  • Revel in the remote serene landscapes of Cooloola's wetlands and river system on this long inland hike, camping under starry skies along the way.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    48km one way
    Time suggested
    Allow 3–5 days walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 4 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • Toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Gaze at mesmerising ocean views from the lighthouse high on the headland, and imagine life for the early lightkeepers and their families.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    2.2km return
    Time suggested
    Allow 1hr walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 3 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • Lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Hike along high coastal dunes then cool off in the lagoon at Double Island Point before enjoying breathtaking views from the lighthouse.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    30km return
    Time suggested
    Allow 11hrs walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 4 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • Toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • Lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Discover the difference between an elkhorn and a staghorn in a hidden pocket of cool rainforest nestled in the Cooloola sandmass.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    250m circuit
    Time suggested
    Allow 30mins walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 2 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Delight in this easy amble around the lake, as you discover open forest, woodland and surprising patches of rainforest.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    5km circuit
    Time suggested
    Allow 2hrs walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 2 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • Toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Discover scribbly gum woodland and berry-covered shrubs on a short walk to Freshwater Lake, fringed by reeds and twisted paperbarks.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    2.8km return
    Time suggested
    Allow 1hr walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 2 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Discover tall open forests, woodlands and surprising cool rainforest on this 4WD adventure leading to Teewah Beach.

    Journey type
    4WD, trail bike
    Distance
    15km one way
    Time suggested
    Allow 1hr driving time.
    Grade
    unrated
    • No tent camping
    • Toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • No walking
    • Scenic drive
  • Discover pine plantations, scribbly gum woodlands and cool rainforest along this rough track to the tranquil waterways of the Upper Noosa River.

    Journey type
    4WD, trail bike
    Distance
    20km (return) return
    Time suggested
    Allow 1.5hrs driving time.
    Grade
    unrated
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • No walking
    • Scenic drive
  • Encounter revegetated farmlands, eucalypt woodlands, paperbarks and cabbage palm wetlands on the way to an information centre overlooking Lake Cootharaba.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    12.2km (return) return
    Time suggested
    Allow 4.5hrs walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 3 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • Toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Put your 4WD skills to the test on this remote challenging inland circuit through tall eucalypt forests high on the Cooloola sandmass.

    Journey type
    4WD, trail bike
    Distance
    40km circuit
    Time suggested
    Allow 3-4hrs driving time.
    Grade
    unrated
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • Lookout
    • No walking
    • Scenic drive
  • Delight in the wetlands of cabbage palms, paperbarks and eucalypt forests fringing the delta lakes of the upper Noosa River.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    400m circuit
    Time suggested
    Allow 30mins walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 3 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • Toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Amble through the allocasuarina and paperbark forests that fringe the wetlands bordering Lake Cootharaba, and discover the area’s early European heritage.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    5.1km return
    Time suggested
    Allow 2hrs walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 3 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Enjoy some quality time with your family pet on this scenic dog-friendly stretch of Cooloola’s southern beach.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    5.6km (1st beach cutting to 3rd beach cutting) return
    Time suggested
    Allow 3hrs walking time.
    Grade
    easy (walk)
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Experience the delights of riding your horse along the sandy shore on a scenic section of Cooloola's southern beach.

    Journey type
    Horse
    Distance
    Teewah township–17km; Noosa River–6km; Vehicle-free beach area–5.6km return
    Time suggested
    Allow up to 5hrs riding time.
    Grade
    Class 1 horse trail (easy)
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • No walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Escape the Noosa beach crowds and soak up the sunshine and solitude as you explore the scenic beach on Noosa North Shore.

    Journey type
    Walk, cycle, 4WD, trail bike
    Distance
    6km return return
    Time suggested
    Allow 20mins driving time.
    Grade
    unrated
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • Walking
    • Scenic drive
  • Explore cool rainforest on a high dune and discover the tea-coloured waters and white sandy beaches of one of Cooloola’s hidden lakes.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    4.2km return
    Time suggested
    Allow 1.5hrs walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 2 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Wind your way over a rough sandy track through low-lying wallum wetlands and melaleuca and banksia woodland to the shores of Tin Can Bay.

    Journey type
    4WD, trail bike
    Distance
    12km return
    Time suggested
    Allow 45mins driving time.
    Grade
    unrated
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • No walking
    • Scenic drive
  • Meander along a boardwalk through paperbark woodlands to a tea-coloured creek for a cooling dip and some wildlife spotting.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    200m return
    Time suggested
    Allow 30mins walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 2 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Meander through coastal heath and paperbark woodland from Lake Cootharaba to the beach for spectacular views south towards Noosa Heads.

    Journey type
    Walk
    Distance
    4km return
    Time suggested
    Allow 1.5hrs walking time.
    Grade
    Grade 3 walking track
    • No tent camping
    • No toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • Lookout
    • Walking
    • No scenic drive
  • Journey by canoe, kayak or boat to explore the tranquil upper reaches of the Noosa River, bush camping along the way.

    Journey type
    Canoe/kayak, boat
    Distance
    27.7km one way
    Time suggested
    Allow 5hrs paddling time.
    Grade
    unrated
    • No tent camping
    • Toilets
    • No picnic tables
    • No wheelchair access
    • No lookout
    • No walking
    • No scenic drive