Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park Sunshine Coast

Peer skyward to take in the tall palms and search for elkhorn and staghorn ferns in the canopy along the Dundathu circuit. Photo credit: © 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

Dundathu circuit

Discover the difference between an elkhorn and a staghorn in a hidden pocket of cool rainforest nestled in the Cooloola sandmass.

Journey type
250m circuit The same start and finish point, but the traveller doesn’t return along the same path
Time suggested
Allow 30min walking time.
Grade 2 walking track

Accessible by

  • Conventional vehicle

Journey facilities

  • Walking

Relish the cool, fresh air of the rainforest on this easy walk from the Bymien day-use area. Wander amongst towering kauri pines and blue quandongs with large buttress roots and peer up into the canopy to admire elkhorns and staghorn ferns growing on trunks of trees.

Look around your feet also—fallen trees are covered in lush carpets of moss and fungi, and, during summer, you’ll find the stunning white flowers of ground Christmas orchids. Listen to the many bird calls from the canopy above and keep your eyes open for the frequent flashes of colour in the sea of green vegetation.

Getting there and getting around

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

  • The circuit is in the northern part of Cooloola and starts from Bymien day-use area, which is accessible by 2WDs from Rainbow Beach.
  • Vehicle access permits are not required to access Bymien day-use area if travelling from Rainbow Beach Road however if you plan to travel past the day-use area along Freshwater Road to Cooloola's beach, you will need a vehicle access permit (and a 4WD).
  • The circuit can also be accessed from the Cooloola Beach drive, by driving 12km inland along Freshwater Road. You need a 4WD and vehicle access permits for this route.

Getting to Bymien day-use area

  • 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 towards Rainbow Beach township, then turn right into Freshwater Road and drive 3km to Bymien day-use area and the start of the circuit.

Wheelchair access

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities.

Before you visit

Opening hours

Dundathu circuit 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.