Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park Sunshine Coast

Take a moment lakeside and admire the brilliant reflections on the Freshwater Lake walk. Photo credit: © Chris Whitelaw

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

Freshwater Lake walk

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 Start and finish points are the same and the traveller must return via the same path
Time suggested
Allow 1hr walking time.
Grade
Grade 2 walking track
Where
View map

Accessible by

  • High clearance 4WD
  • Trail bike

Journey facilities

  • Walking

A short walk in from the beach, from near the Freshwater day-use area, follow this easy track to a beautiful lake. Wander through scribbly gum woodland and a blanket of bright green midyim, a bushy shrub covered in white-speckled berries. Relish the sight of green shrubs contrasting with the clean white trunks of scribbly gums

Listen for chattering honeyeaters and the loud flap of wings as bar-shouldered doves shy away from your intruding footsteps. Freshwater Lake is fringed with reeds and paperbarks—enjoy a swim from the small cleared area on the lake’s banks, and admire the reflections on the water’s surface on a clear day.

Getting there and getting around

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

Via Freshwater Road access

  • 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 on Rainbow Beach Road towards Rainbow Beach township, then turn right into Freshwater Road, drive 3km to Bymien day-use area and continue 11.5km on the sand road to the Freshwater camping area and start of the walk.

Via Cooloola Beach drive

  • Remember all vehicles must be registered, drivers must be licensed and all Queensland road rules apply, even on beaches.
  • A vehicle access permit must be purchased. Display the permit on your windscreen before driving in the recreation area.
  • There are two main entrances to Cooloola beach drive—the southern beach entrance on Noosa North Shore brings you onto Teewah Beach, and the northern beach entrance allows access onto Rainbow Beach.
  • At the northern beach 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 vehicle access permits, also camping permits and other information (business hours only).
  • At the southern beach access, visit the Great Sandy Information Centre, located near the Noosa River ferry on Moorindil Street for vehicle access permits, also camping permits and other information (business hours only).

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 right onto Beach Road and drive 2.1km on the bitumen road, then turn sharply to the left (past the first beach access cutting) and head north on the Wilderness Track.
  • Drive 2.8km to the end of the bitumen road and turn onto the 4WD-accessible third beach cutting sand track . You must enter and exit the beach via this track.
  • Drive 37.5km north along the Cooloola beach drive to the Freshwater Road entrance and drive 500m to the camping area and start of the walk.

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 on Rainbow beach Road into Rainbow Beach township, then turn left onto Kirchner Avenue.
  • After 300m, turn right onto Griffin Esplanade and follow this road to the council car park and vehicle access ramp to access the beach.
  • Drive south along the Cooloola beach drive for 10km, drive 1km inland on the Leisha track, the travel a further 3km south on the beach to the Freshwater Road entrance and drive 500m to the camping area and start of the walk.

Wheelchair access

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities.

Drinking water

Water taps are available at the nearby Freshwater camping area. Treat all water before use.

Before you visit

Opening hours

Freshwater Lake 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.