Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park Sunshine Coast

Drive through rainforest, open woodland and tall eucalypt forest, along this rough 4WD track, before emerging onto the beach. 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

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Freshwater Road 4WD track

Discover tall open forests, woodlands and surprising cool rainforest on this 4WD adventure leading to Teewah Beach.

Journey type
4WD, trail bike
Distance
15km one way A path where the start point is different to the finish point
Time suggested
Allow 1hr driving time.
Grade
Unrated

Accessible by

  • High clearance 4WD
  • Trail bike

Journey facilities

  • Toilets (non-flush)
  • Scenic drive
  • Trail bike riding

Be delighted by the variety of Cooloola's forests along this drive, and discover the surprisingly luxuriant rainforest growing in deep sand near the windy, salty coastline. From Rainbow Beach Road, venture along Freshwater Road to Bymien day-use area, where you can stretch your legs on the Dundathu circuit or Poona Lake walk. This section of the road is suitable for 2WDs.

Then follow the sandy 4WD track through tall forests and woodlands to Freshwater day-use and camping areas for some relaxation time and a short walk to Freshwater Lake, or continue onto the Cooloola beach drive. Use Freshwater Road as a detour around the beaches north of Double Island Point when conditions are hazardous.

Getting there and getting around

Freshwater Road 4WD 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 Rainbow Beach

  • 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.

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.

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.

Wheelchair access

Toilet facilities suitable for wheelchairs with assistance are provided at the Freshwater day-use area.

Drinking water

Water is provided at the beach service facility opposite the Freshwater day-use area. Treat all water before use.

Before you visit

Opening hours

Freshwater Road 4WD track 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: