Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park Sunshine Coast

Hike the vast sand dunes on the Cooloola Great Walk. Photo credit: Robert Ashdown © Queensland Government

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

Cooloola Great Walk

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 A path where the start point is different to the finish point
Time suggested
Allow 5 days walking time.
Grade
Grade 4 walking track
Where
View map

Accessible by

  • Conventional vehicle

Journey facilities

  • Lookout (natural)
  • Toilets (non-flush)
  • Walking

Immerse yourself in nature for five days as you hike this remote 102km trail through Cooloola’s rainforest, coastal woodland and heath-clad plains. Linking Noosa North Shore with Rainbow Beach, the Great Walk will take you over the eastern high dunes of the Cooloola sandmass, between the pristine upper Noosa River and the coast.

Climb over vast sandblows, discover perched lakes and long sandy beaches and be rewarded with sweeping views of the Cooloola coastline. Along the way, glimpse snakes, skinks, lizards, emus and echidnas, and admire the views from many natural lookouts. Relax at night in the four walkers’ camps—Brahminy, Dutgee, Litoria and Kauri—where it’s only you and the wildlife.

Getting there and getting around

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

  • This 102km Great Walk extends between Noosa North Shore in the south and Rainbow Beach in the north.
  • There are two access points to Cooloola Great Walk: the southern entrance on Noosa North Shore via Tewantin, and the northern entrance from Carlo Sandblow car park at Rainbow Beach.
  • Taxi services are available in Tewantin and Rainbow Beach.
  • For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland.com, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

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 left onto Beach Road and follow the signs 250m to the southern entrance of the Cooloola Great Walk.
  • Before heading to Noosa North Shore, drop into the Great Sandy Information Centre on Moorindil Street in Tewantin for camping permits and other information (business hours only).

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 along Rainbow Beach Road into Rainbow Beach township.
  • Turn off Rainbow Beach Road onto Double Island Drive then turn left onto Cooloola Drive and follow the signs for 850m to the Carlo Sandblow car park and the northern entrance of the Cooloola Great Walk.
  • Before you start, visit the Manta Ray barge office, Shell service station, Rainbow Beach caravan park (BP service station) or the Rainbow Beach Tourist Information Centre on Rainbow Beach for camping permits and other information (business hours only).

Wheelchair access

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities.

Drinking water

  • Fill your drinking water containers before you get to the Cooloola Great Walk entry points.
  • Water is provided at the walkers' camps and at Freshwater day-use area.
  • Treat all water before use.

Before you visit

Opening hours

Cooloola Great Walk is open 24 hours a day.

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

Visiting safely

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