Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park Sunshine Coast

Explore the serene environments of the Cooloola Wildnerness Trail. 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 wilderness trail

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 A path where the start point is different to the finish point
Time suggested
Allow 3–5 days walking time.
Grade
Grade 4 walking track
Where
View map

Accessible by

  • Conventional vehicle

Journey facilities

  • Toilets (non-flush)
  • Walking

Immerse yourself in the inland wilderness of Cooloola’s western upper Noosa River catchment. Over several days walking, experience riverine rainforests, tall eucalypt forests, drier woodlands and heathlands. Discover hidden treasures such as remote waterholes, scribbly gum woodland and rainforest-fringed creeks. During spring, enjoy an abundance of wildflowers attracting native bees, birds, bats and gliders.

Along the trail, listen for the songs of noisy friarbirds and ‘popping corn’ sounds of yellow-tailed black cockatoos crunching seeds. In the early mornings and late afternoons, be serenaded by an orchestra of frog calls from the reed-lined riverbank. Stay overnight at Fig Tree Point, Harrys, Wandi waterhole or Neebs waterhole camping areas.

Getting there and getting around

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

  • This tail extends from Elanda Point in the southern part of Cooloola to Rainbow Beach Road in the north.
  • You can access the Cooloola Wilderness Trail from the south (Elanda Point via Tewantin) and from the north (Rainbow Beach).
  • Taxi services are available in Tewantin and Rainbow Beach.
  • At Tewantin (southern access), visit the Great Sandy Information Centre, located near the Noosa River ferry on Moorindil Street for camping permits and other information (business hours only).
  • At Rainbow Beach (northern 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 camping permits and other information (business hours only).
  • Read walk with care for tips on walking safely and walking lightly.

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.
  • From Tewantin drive 19km west and north via McKinnon Drive and Louis Bazzo Drive to Boreen Point. Turn left onto Lake Flat Road and drive 2km to the Elanda Point access road.
  • Travel a short distance along the access road to the Elanda Point car park. The entrance to the Cooloola Wilderness Trail is on the opposite side of the car park.

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 7km towards Rainbow Beach.
  • Look out for the Cooloola Wilderness Trail road sign in the Mullens car park on the right side of the road. This is the entrance to the Wilderness trail.

Wheelchair access

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities.

Drinking water

  • Tap water is provided at Fig Tree Pointand Harry's campingareas.
  • Waterholes at Neebs and Wandi are generally available.
  • Treat all water before use.

Before you visit

Opening hours

Cooloola wilderness trail 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.