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

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Chances are, if you’ve heard of Cooloola, you might know it as the sandy beach highway between Rainbow Beach and Noosa, the mecca of four-wheel drivers and fishers. Photo credit: © Lachlan Gardiner

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Driving summary

Take time to plan trips and enjoy the area's highlights. Please read driving safety for more information and print off the driving on sand safety guide (PDF, 2.8MB) to take with you when you visit. 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.
    • View more information about Cooloola Way 4WD track.

    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.
    • View more information about Freshwater Road 4WD track.

    Kings Bore circuit

    • Vehicle access permits required
    • 40km circuit—allow at least 3–4hrs.
    • sand track with sections of loose sand, washouts, difficult terrain and steep hills
    • Requires careful driving and a 4WD with high clearance and low-range capacity.
    • Access is off Rainbow Beach Road north of Cooloola Way.
    • You must be self-sufficient and carry vehicle recovery gear on this remote, unsigned track.
    • The circuit drive is part of Cooloola's fire management access trail network.
    • The circuit is made up of four sections: Pettigrews Road; eastern firebreak; Kings Bore Road; western firebreak.
    • Read the map carefully and check conditions before heading off as these trails may be closed due to wildfires in the park.
    • View more information about Kings Bore circuit 4WD track.

    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.
    • View more information about Harrys Hut Road 4WD track.

    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.
    • View more information about Poverty Point Road 4WD track

    24hr number plate surveillance cameras in use

    All vehicles entering and exiting the recreation area may have their vehicle number plates recorded. Vehicle registration details are checked against the Queensland National Parks Booking Service and a Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) will be issued to the registered owner of any vehicle that does not have a valid vehicle access permit.

    A penalty of $200 applies for entering a recreation area without a valid vehicle access permit. This amount will increase each financial year from 1 July. To avoid receiving a PIN, ensure you purchase a vehicle access permit before entering the recreation area. For more information see: