Skip links and keyboard navigation

closeThe former Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing is merging into new departments.
This site will be updated while the new Department of Environment and Science and Sport and Recreation websites are being established.

About Cooloola Great Walk

Park alerts

No current alerts for this park. See alerts for all parks.

Exciting news!
More park information is now available in our new trial Cooloola Great Walk page. Please check it out and leave your feedback to help us improve your online experience.

Walk highlights

The Cooloola sandmass is one of the largest coastal sand deposits along the Queensland coastline, spanning more than 42km south of Rainbow Beach, about 10km inland and rising over 200m above sea level. Photo: Mike Swaine, Above Photography

The Cooloola sandmass is one of the largest coastal sand deposits along the Queensland coastline, spanning more than 42km south of Rainbow Beach, about 10km inland and rising over 200m above sea level. Photo: Mike Swaine, Above Photography

The Cooloola Great Walk showcases the very best of the Cooloola Recreation Area’s outstanding natural attractions.

From giant sand hills to hidden rainforests, you’ll be surrounded by nature’s chorus both day and night, captivated by a mass of spring wildflowers and stunned by mirror-image surface reflections on the dark waters of the upper Noosa River.

The walk links the Noosa North Shore to Rainbow Beach via the eastern high dunes known as the Cooloola sandmass—one of the largest accumulations of wind-blown sand found along the Queensland coast. Built up during the last 500,000 years, it conserves unique dune, lake and vegetation systems. To the west lies the upper Noosa River—one of the unspoiled river systems in Queensland. This 61,750 hectare section of the Great Sandy National Park is one of the best conserved landscapes of its kind in eastern Australia.

The extensive walking track system winds for up to 102km through rainforest, tall eucalypt forest, dry coastal woodland and heath plains. You’ll walk over vast sandblows, past perched lakes, along sandy beaches and see views of the long sweeping landscapes of the Cooloola coastline and the Noosa River lakes.

Four walkers’ camps offer tranquil camping experiences, some with stunning views and vantage points from which to take in magnificent sunsets. Designed to hold you captivated for five days, the Cooloola Great Walk is a chance to get away from it all and swap the working week for a walking week.

Getting there and getting around

The Cooloola Recreation Area lies between the coastal towns of Tewantin, near Noosa, and Rainbow Beach just south of Fraser Island. Tewantin is located approximately 155km—about 2 hours drive—north from Brisbane. Rainbow Beach is 240km north of Brisbane or about 3 hours drive.

Bus and taxi services are readily available to and from:

  • Rainbow Beach
  • Tewantin
  • Brisbane
  • Sunshine Coast
  • Noosa
  • Gympie
  • Maryborough.

Rainbow Beach and Tewantin townships have:

  • shops
  • fuel stations
  • accommodation including resorts, motels and caravan parks.

Getting to the Cooloola Great Walk southern entrance

The southern entrance at the Arthur Harrold Nature Refuge on the Noosa North Shore is approximately five kilometres from Tewantin CBD. 

  • Taxi services are available: Ph: 131 008.
  • A public bus service runs seven days a week.
  • For more detail contact Translink Ph: 13 12 30.

Getting to the Cooloola Great Walk northern entrance

The northern entrance of the Cooloola Great Walk is at the Carlo Sandblow carpark approximately 1.5km from the Rainbow Beach central business district.

  • Taxi services are available: Ph: 0411 072 349

Camping and accommodation

Camping at Dutgee walkers' camp. Photo: R Ashdown, Queensland Government

Camping at Dutgee walkers' camp. Photo: R Ashdown, Queensland Government

Camping

Cooloola Great Walk is an e-permit camping zone. Penalties apply for camping without a permit. Camping permits are required and fees apply.

There are four walkers' camps provided at regular intervals along the Cooloola Great Walk.

Be aware: Camper numbers are limited.

Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park

Vehicle Access Permits are required to drive through designated areas in the Cooloola Recreation Area. For all other camping within the recreation area, camping permits are required and fees apply.

Other accommodation

Near Tewantin (Noosa) and Rainbow Beach

A range of holiday accommodation is available in and near the towns of Tewantin and Rainbow Beach. For more information, visit www.queenslandholidays.com.au

Walking options

Enjoy panoramic views from the Cooloola sandmass. Photos Robert Ashdown, Queensland Government

Enjoy panoramic views from the Cooloola sandmass. Photos Robert Ashdown, Queensland Government

The coastal heath plains put on a spectacular wildflower display in late winter and spring.

The coastal heath plains put on a spectacular wildflower display in late winter and spring.

Absorb the open surrounds and views while crossing the Cooloola sandpatch.

Absorb the open surrounds and views while crossing the Cooloola sandpatch.

Mist through open eucalypt woodland.

Mist through open eucalypt woodland.

See southbound migrating humpback whales from July to November from Double Island Point, or look closer inshore for  manta rays, dolphins, sharks and marine turtles.

See southbound migrating humpback whales from July to November from Double Island Point, or look closer inshore for manta rays, dolphins, sharks and marine turtles.

Track classification

The Cooloola Great Walk is a class 4 track according to Australian Standards.

  • There are distinct tracks with junctions signposted.
  • In remote sections, tracks can become undefined after heavy rain; orange trail markers are present.
  • The tracks have a variable track width with very soft sand sections, can be wet under foot at times, and include steep grades and steps.
  • Tracks may be overgrown by fast-growing vines; hazards such as fallen trees and branches are likely to be present.
  • A moderate level of fitness level with previous experience recommended and ankle-supporting footwear is strongly recommended.
  • A moderate level of navigation skills is recommended, involving self-reliance in first aid and the ability to cope with weather hazard situations.

The Cooloola Great Walk has five sections; they are marked, from south to north as S1 to S5. S6 offers a coastal route alternative to S5.

Inland route: S1 (Arthur Harrold Nature Refuge at Noosa North Shore) to S5 (Carlo Sandblow near Rainbow Beach township)—88.1km, allow 5 days walking time.

This track takes you up and over the Cooloola sandmass, across sandblows with views to the horizon over coastal plains and the ocean. You’ll leave the sandmass in places to pass through low heath plains and along the upper Noosa River.

S1 Noosa North Shore track entrance to Brahminy walkers’ camp—17.3km, allow 6hrs walking time.

Start at Arthur Harrold Nature Refuge in Noosa North Shore, an area managed by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council. These low coastal heath plains offer spectacular wildflower displays from late winter to spring.

Shortly after entering the recreation area, you'll ascend the Cooloola sandmass. If you have time, take a side track from the beach to Teewah Landing at Lake Cootharaba (4km return—adds approximately 1hr 30mins to your trip). Another 300m return-climb up Mount Seawah, offers fantastic coastal views.

Make camp early at Brahminy walkers’ camp, in time for sunset—simply stunning!

S2 Brahminy walkers’ camp to Dutgee walkers’ camp—20.3km, allow 7hrs walking time.

Walk over high dunes through scribbly gum Eucalyptus racemosa woodland and blackbutt Eucalyptus pilularis forest. You’ll glimpse Lake Cooloola to the west, and take in the 360° views of sweeping coastal landscapes. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to stumble upon a small patch of shady rainforest along this route.

The one kilometre crossing of the Cooloola Sandpatch will test your navigation skills, but will reward you with awe-inspiring views of the upper Noosa River lakes and hinterland ranges.

The track descends onto heath plains with spectacular wildflowers in winter and spring, and then winds alongside the upper Noosa River to Dutgee walkers’ camp. The site (locally known as Log Landing) is now a protected cultural site; the logs being part of timber cut from the mid 1900s. On calm days, the surface reflections on the river are a perfect mirror image of the surrounding landscape.

Warning! Do not climb on the decaying logs at this camp site. You may suffer serious injury.

S3 Dutgee walkers’ camp to Litoria walkers’ camp—14.8km, allow 5hrs 30mins walking time.

As you leave the upper Noosa River, look back across the heath plains to the sandy finger-like extensions of the Cooloola Sandpatch rolling down the distant sand hills.

The track continues through towering timbered country with vibrant open forests of predominantly blackbutt and coastal wattle.

Be prepared! There are steep sections on this leg of the walk.

You may see Ramsay’s Hut, an old timber cutter’s hut and a relic of Cooloola’s past timber industry. The hut was abandoned before the area was declared a national park in 1975. For your safety, stay on the walking track at all times and do not enter the hut area.

S4 Litoria walkers’ camp to Kauri walkers’ camp—20.5 km, allow 7 hrs walking time.

As you continue north, the track emerges at a perched lake—Lake Cooloomera. The mildly acidic water is perfect habitat for the little “acid” frogs Litoria cooloolensis, restricted to these reedy areas in Cooloola and Fraser Island. Be very alert for snakes here—they like the frogs too!

Perched lakes take years to form in depressions in sand dunes. A saucer-shaped, hard pan of organic debris, sand and peat forms a crust and when filled with rain, reeds and water plants start to thrive.

Don’t leave your mark here—enjoy the lake from a distance. Trampling reeds accelerates erosion and destroys this essential frog breeding habitat.

The track continues over some of the highest sections of sandmass, through pockets of the strongly scented, carrol scrub Backhousia myrtifolia, and some littoral rainforest. Kauri walkers’ camp sits on a ridge of rainforest. The gigantic kauri pine Agathis robusta—growing here close to its southern limit—produces 3 kilogram seed cones which fall anytime from November to late December. Never linger too long under kauri pines!

S5 Kauri walkers’ camp to Carlo carpark (direct route)—15.2 km, allow 5 hrs walking time.

Many birds of the rainforest make up the Cooloola chorus, their songs pierced by the whip crack call of eastern whipbirds.

Ahead is Poona Lake—the largest perched lake in Cooloola—over 160m above sea level. A glorious white sandy beach appears when the water level falls below maximum capacity. Although tempting, swimming is not recommended.

The track crosses Carlo Sandblow for 200m. You’ll view Double Island Point to the east, and to the west, Tin Can Bay. Stay clear of sand cliffs at the edges of sandblows—they may crumble and fall away. Do not attempt to reach the beach from the top of Carlo—there is no access! Stay clear of hang-gliders when pilots are landing or taking off.

A 600m stroll through beautiful scribbly gum forest takes you to Carlo carpark—the northern end of Cooloola Great Walk. A side track takes you to the QPWS information centre on Rainbow Beach Road.

Coastal route: S6 (alternative route to S5)

S6 starts at Kauri walkers’ camp, through Freshwater, along Teewah Beach and up to Double Island Point—a rocky headland, with great views and a lighthouse. Continue north past coloured sand cliffs, finishing at Carlo Sandblow. Rainbow Beach township is 1.2km (downhill) from the track entrance at the Carlo Sandblow carpark.

S6 Option 1—Kauri walkers’ camp to Carlo carpark via Double Island Point—29.1km, allow 10hrs walking time.

This is a long day’s walk along Teewah Beach and up to Double Island Point. Walking S6 instead of S5 means an early start and a late finish to the day. Walking on soft sand (necessary at high tide) slows you down and is tiring.

S6 Option 2—Freshwater to Carlo carpark via Double Island Point—24.7km, allow 8hrs 30mins walking time.

Consider camping at Freshwater, and not Kauri, the night before. This will cut 4.4km or about one hour off S6. Decide in advance and ensure your camp site booking reflects where you plan to camp.

The walk along Teewah Beach is in full sun. Starting the walk at dawn offers cooler temperatures, an ocean sunrise and hundreds of shorebird sightings. Although tempting, do not swim in the ocean, as there may be rips and sharks.

The track up to Double Island Point is steep, but on the way up and once at the lighthouse, there are excellent ocean views to the horizon and long sweeping coastal landscapes. You might see migrating humpback whales as they pass here from July to November, manta rays, dolphins, sharks, turtles and schools of fish.

The track crosses Carlo Sandblow for 200m. You’ll view Double Island Point to the east, and to the west, Tin Can Bay. Another 600m stroll, through beautiful scribbly gum forest takes you to Carlo carpark—the northern end of Cooloola Great Walk. The township of Rainbow Beach is 1.2km from here.

Always walk safely on beaches. Be bright, be seen—reflective vests and backpack strips are recommended for beach walkers, especially at dawn, dusk or at night.

Other walks in Cooloola

There are many short and long walks within the Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park, ranging from short circuits to long hikes and leading to some of the park’s best features.

Make sure you take a copy of the Cooloola Recreation Area and surrounds visitor guide (PDF, 4.7M) when you walk in other parts of the Cooloola Recreation Area.

Also see: Cooloola Recreation Area webpage.

Planning your walk

Planning your walk and having contingency plans is essential. Photos: Robert Ashdown, Queensland Government

Planning your walk and having contingency plans is essential. Photos: Robert Ashdown, Queensland Government

A mobile phone with spare battery, and a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) are highly recommended. Or consider a satellite phone.

A mobile phone with spare battery, and a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) are highly recommended. Or consider a satellite phone.

Get your bearings before navigating across the Cooloola Sandpatch and Carlo Sandblow.

Get your bearings before navigating across the Cooloola Sandpatch and Carlo Sandblow.

Spend a moment to take in the great view of Double Island Point from Carlo Sandblow.

Spend a moment to take in the great view of Double Island Point from Carlo Sandblow.

Plan your walk carefully

The Cooloola Great Walk passes through remote areas and some rugged terrain. Forward planning is essential. Allow at least five full days to complete the five sections of the Cooloola Great Walk, and include extra time if you intend walking the side trips.

Be prepared

Most of the Cooloola Great Walk is remote and only suitable for properly equipped and experienced bushwalkers. As each day's walk varies between 14.8 and 29.1 kilometres they are not recommended for children.

  • Do not walk in remote areas unless you are well prepared.
  • A moderate level of navigation skills is required—know how to use a topographic map and compass.
  • Be trained in remote area first aid.
  • Be weather-wise and know what to do if there is a storm, flood or fire.
  • Pack good communication gear and know how to use it.

Assess your groups’ abilities

  • Never walk alone.
  • Form a Great Walk group.
  • Small groups of four people are ideal.
  • Consider everyone’s bushwalking experience, fitness levels and special needs.
  • Plan to share equipment so everyone packs light and comfortable.
  • Talk through contingencies—bad weather, illness, injury—compile an emergency plan in case something goes wrong.

Inform someone who cares

  • Go through your emergency plans with a reliable friend or family member.
  • Keep them updated if you change your plans.
  • Ensure you call them when you have completed the walk.
  • If you are overdue from the completion of your walk, your contact person should ring the Queensland Police Service.

Stay informed! Stay safe!

Essentials to bring

Facilities are limited, so you must be fully self-sufficient. Your equipment should, at least, include the following:

  • navigation equipment, topographic map, compass and whistle
  • a valid camping permit
  • strong, lightweight tent—shelters are not provided at walkers’ camps
  • lightweight sleeping bag—temperatures can drop to minus 2°C on some winter night.
  • sleeping mat
  • pack for all seasons—include warm clothes and a raincoat
  • reflective vests and backpack strips for beach walking
  • sturdy boots and gaiters
  • first-aid kit
  • water containers capable of holding enough water for a full day’s walk
  • nourishing lightweight food and high-energy snacks, but take extra food in case the walk takes longer than expected
  • hat, sunscreen and insect repellent
  • waterproof bags to keep clothing and bedding dry
  • torch, extra batteries
  • small, battery-operated transistor radio for weather warnings
  • lightweight cooking and eating utensils and a washing up container
  • reliable fuel stove and fuel and a lighter or waterproof matches—fires are not permitted anywhere along the great walk.
  • sealable containers or bags for food and rubbish—rubbish bins are not provided at walkers’ camps, so all rubbish must be carried out
  • human waste disposal kit and toilet paper or a trowel or spade for bush toileting
  • a reliable communication device, at least a mobile phone.

A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is the ideal device for emergencies. Buy or hire one for your trip.

Keep in mind:

  • A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is not a telephone.
  • PLBs should only be used in emergency situations.
  • When activated, PLBs emits a signal, which helps rescuers locate your position.
  • For more information visit Maritime Safety Queensland.
  • Mobile phone reception is very limited and non-existent in most sections.
  • Consider that batteries cannot be recharged at the walkers' camps.
  • A satellite phone works best in remote areas, but also needs battery power.

For further information on how to obtain and register a PLB contact the Australian Maritime Safety Authority 1800 406 406 (business hours), .
PLB’s and satellite phones can be hired from various outlets.

Permits and fees

  • Camping permits are required and fees apply.
  • Walkers’ camp sites must be booked and paid for in advance.
  • Bookings can be made up to 12 months in advance.
  • The maximum group size is six people camping overnight on the Cooloola Great Walk.
  • Maximum stay at each camp site is one night.
  • Book your camp site online.
  • If you cannot book online, see camping bookings for other options
  • Vehicle permits are required for traversing through designated areas in the Cooloola Recreation Area.

Climate and weather

Mean annual rainfall for the area is approximately 1400 millimetres, with the driest times between July and September. Always check weather warnings at least a day before you start your walk, as the area can be affected by cyclones or days of torrential rain.

Also see: Bureau of Meteorology.

  • Expect sections of damp to very wet track conditions between December and March, with generally drier times in all other months.
  • Walking tracks are closed during periods of scheduled maintenance, flood, wildfires, high fire danger or other severe weather events such as cyclones and strong winds.
  • Check the latest Cooloola Conditions Report (PDF, 775K) before you go.

Severe weather

When booking, leave enough best-contact details, so rangers can contact you about sudden closures.

  • For safety, QPWS has to close walking tracks, roads and camping areas during extreme weather events.
  • As much notice as possible is given to Great Walkers who have booked their camping.
  • Never enter areas that have been closed.
  • Check weather forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology and cancel your trip rather than walk into dangerous situations.
  • Check park alerts for any extreme weather or fire alerts.

Facilities and supplies

  • Fill your drinking water containers before you get to the Cooloola Great Walk entry points.
  • There are no facilities, water taps, or overnight parking available at either track entrance.

See table below for facilities close by.

Local facilities
Facility type Facility Tewantin Noosa North Shore Rainbow Beach
General Water Yes No Yes
Public toilets Yes No Yes
Public telephone Yes Yes Yes
Overnight parking Yes No Yes
Accommodation Backpacker Yes No Yes
Camping/caravan parks Yes Yes Yes
Hotel/motel Yes Yes Yes
Guesthouse Yes No Yes
Supplies Restaurants Yes Yes Yes
Take-away food Yes Yes Yes
General store Yes Yes Yes
Fuel (petrol, diesel, gas) Yes No Yes
Money (ATM and EFTPOS) Yes No Yes
Transport Public transport (bus/taxi) Yes No Yes

For more detailed accommodation and tourism information in Queensland, visit Queensland Holidays.

Walk safely

Be prepared for rain or shine. Photos: Robert Ashdown, Queensland Government

Be prepared for rain or shine. Photos: Robert Ashdown, Queensland Government

Cooloola's beach is also a road. Be alert to traffic, that usually needs to use the harder sand close to the water's edge.

Cooloola's beach is also a road. Be alert to traffic, that usually needs to use the harder sand close to the water's edge.

Drink plenty of water before setting out then frequently sip water throughout the day. Always drink more water in hot weather.

Drink plenty of water before setting out then frequently sip water throughout the day. Always drink more water in hot weather.

Expect the best, but prepare for the worst.

Be aware!

  • You are responsible for your own safety.
  • Sections of the Cooloola Great Walk are very remote and isolated.
  • Accidents have happened, even to experienced bushwalkers.
  • Nature can be unpredictable, and a storm, wildfire and flood can happen in a flash.
  • Help can be hours away.
  • Remote rescues are difficult and expensive.

General safety guidelines

Ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for you and your group.

Be prepared

  • Have an emergency plan.
  • Ensure experienced adults accompany children.
  • Carry maps and compass.
  • Carry communication equipment.

Weather checks

  • Check weather conditions a day or two before leaving—Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
  • Check park alerts for fire danger, track closures and other park news before you leave.
  • Walkers’ camps may be closed temporarily in very windy conditions.
  • Obey all safety, warning and closure signs.

Consider safety

  • Never walk alone. Small groups of about four are ideal.
  • Stay on track. The Cooloola Great Walk follows defined walking tracks.
  • Do not attempt to walk cross-country or along unauthorised tracks.
  • Be especially careful crossing the Cooloola Sandpatch.
  • Be surefooted. Wear sturdy, enclosed boots or shoes.
  • Don’t overheat—avoid walking in extreme heat or during periods of high fire danger.
  • Watch your head!—high winds cause branches to fall.
  • Do not push yourselves too hard—know your group and their limitations and change your plans as necessary.
  • Keep your group together, especially towards the end of the day.
  • Carry enough drinking water, food and a first-aid kit.
  • Treat all water before drinking.
  • Do not walk at night—plan to set up camp well before sunset.

First aid—be prepared

  • At least one person in your party should have an up-to-date first aid qualification.
  • Everyone should have a practical working knowledge of basic first aid.
  • Carry a well-stocked first aid kit and make sure everyone knows where it is.
  • The nearest hospitals are at Gympie and Nambour.

Be familiar with first aid procedures for:

  • blisters
  • hypothermia
  • heat exhaustion
  • hyperthermia
  • snakebite
  • sprained or strained ankles.

Walking conditions

The Cooloola Great Walk is a clearly marked track with a generally firm and stable surface. Some areas are more challenging—steep grades, soft sand and sections of track in full sun. Study the on-screen version of the topographic map (PDF, 3.2M) and track profile inset and plan your day’s walk accordingly. Natural hazards such as fallen tree limbs, wild animals and wet boggy sections of track may be encountered.

Navigate safely

Purchase a Cooloola Great Walk topographic map, and take a compass and a GPS with you!

Stay on marked tracks and trails. Check your map regularly to mark your progress against features. If you think you are lost, sit down and stay calm. Use your map and compass or GPS. Do not continue travelling until you know where you are.

Be sun-smart

During October to April, plan to cross 'hot' areas (heath plains, sandblows or low lying hollows away from the sea breezes) in the cooler times of day, if possible.

Avoid heat exhaustion!

  • Track profiles in the topographic map are designed to help you plan your day’s walking schedule.
  • Wear sun protection.
  • Take short rests in any shade you might find.

Hydration hint: 

  • Drink lots of water before setting out.
  • Drink water often throughout the day and more in hotter weather.
  • Carry a full day’s drinking water every day.

Water safety

People have suffered serious injuries in water-related accidents in Cooloola.

  • Swimming in lakes, the ocean or the upper Noosa River is not recommended. 
  • The water bodies in Cooloola are not patrolled by lifeguards.
  • Sharks are common in oceans and the river system—deaths have occurred.
  • Some rivers, estuaries and open ocean areas contain marine stingers.

Do not dive or jump into water.

  • Submerged obstacles and shallow banks are difficult to see.
  • Rips—strong undercurrents in the ocean—are common in the waters off Teewah Beach.

Flood safety

Flash floods can occur during and sometimes after heavy rains in the upper Noosa River catchment.

  • Flood waters can take days to recede.
  • Not every flood is a flash flood.
  • Rangers close walking tracks if they have enough prior notice of flooding.
  • Check map for flood-prone areas.

Never walk through flooded areas.

  • In non-life threatening circumstances—move to the nearest public access road and call a friend or relative to come and get you.

Fire safety

Bushfires can occur without warning.

  • Be aware of and prepared for the dangers.
  • Be prepared for emergencies
  • Early reporting can avoid disaster.
  • Phone Triple Zero (000) to report a bushfire and acts of arson.
  • Try 112 in no or low mobile phone reception area.

In a bushfire

  • Avoid areas with deep leaf litter.
  • Stay low to the ground if it appears less smoky.
  • Head towards the nearest Assembly Area (AA)—see topographic map for AAs that may be helpful refuges in wildfires.

Find refuge

If you cannot reach the nearest Assembly Area in time, find refuge as best as you can in areas such as the nearest:

  • beach
  • road
  • firebreak
  • waterway
  • already-cooled, burnt ground for refuge.

Please note: Not every bushfire is a wildfire. Rangers carry out planned burning to reduce risk of wildfire. In this case, any affected tracks are closed and emergency authorities are notified. Check Park Alerts and the Cooloola Conditions Report (PDF, 775K).

Headlands and sand cliffs

The rocks around headlands can be slippery and unstable. Large sections of sand cliffs can slip silently.

  • Keep well away from cliff edges.
  • Always stay on the designated walking track. 
  • In exposed areas, strong winds may knock you off your feet.

Vehicle traffic

Walkers will encounter traffic along a few inland sections of the Cooloola Great Walk and on beaches. Drivers of 4WD vehicles, some travelling up to speeds of 80km/hr+ on the beaches, generally prefer to drive on the harder sand near the water. Road rules apply to vehicles on the beach, just the same as they do on the roads.

Stay alert!

  • Take note of signs and cross roads with care at designated points.
  • Ensure drivers can see you.
  • Never walk, sit or lie down in the main traffic areas on the beach.
  • Be bright, be seen! Reflective vests and backpack strips are recommended when walking along the beach.
  • Look behind you from time to time, as you may not hear approaching vehicles over the sound of wind and surf.
  • Expect more traffic at peak periods—public and school holidays.

Strong winds

Trees and branches can break in strong winds. Never linger long or camp under trees in extremely windy conditions.

Keep wildlife wild

The Cooloola Recreation Area is home to an enormous diversity of fauna. Keep in mind that any animals you encounter are wild and should be treated with respect.

  • Do not feed any native wildlife, or non-native animals.
  • Human food is often harmful.
  • Some animals can quickly become reliant on human food and become aggressive.
  • Kookaburras, currawongs, brush turkeys, magpies, butcherbirds, wild dogs and goannas are especially vulnerable to scrounging food from you, your backpack or your rubbish container.
  • Keep food and rubbish in well-secured containers and hidden in your pack or tent.
  • Please take all rubbish out with you.

Also see: the short video clip keep wildlife wild.

Wild dogs

Dingoes and wild feral dogs may be attracted to camp sites for many reasons, but especially by food smells when you’re cooking. You may see them on the walking track or when you sit down to lunch. Although generally shy of humans, keep your distance.

  • Never encourage, excite or coax dingoes or wild dogs to come closer.
  • Clean up and put food away straight after cooking.
  • Leave nothing lying around that can attract dingoes or wild dogs—even toothpaste or dish cloths.
  • If threatened, stand to your full height, face the dog, fold your arms across your chest and calmly back away.
  • If attacked, defend yourself aggressively.

Also see: Be dingo-safe! web page.

Snakes

Like most of our national parks, Cooloola has a range of snake species. Snakes prefer to avoid humans, so are rarely seen.

If you encounter a snake, calmly walk away without disturbing it.

  • Some snakes are more active at night, so always use a torch, wear shoes and watch where you walk.
  • Ensure that you are familiar with first-aid for snake bite.

Also see: Queensland Snakes.

Ticks, leeches, mosquitoes and midges

Regularly check yourself for ticks throughout the day and before you go to sleep.

  • Carefully remove the whole tick immediately.
  • Keep affected clothes away from your other gear.

Leeches can be encountered in rainforests and other wet areas.

  • Use salt or heat to remove leeches from skin.

Mosquitoes and midges can be prevalent all year, but especially after periods of rain.

  • Carry personal insect protection as some mosquitoes can carry diseases.

In an emergency

Emergencies do happen—so be prepared. What happens if things go wrong depends to a large extent on the planning and preparations you have made at home.

Emergency contact information

Telephone Triple Zero (000) for critical, serious or life-threatening situations.

Be aware

  • There is limited mobile phone coverage along the Cooloola Great Walk.
  • Try 112 in no or low mobile phone reception areas.
  • If this fails, go to the nearest Assembly Area marked as AA on the topographic map or activate your Personal Locator Beacon (PLB).
  • Satellite phones can be used on the Cooloola Great Walk.

Use your discretion in non-life threatening situations, but put safety first. If you need to leave the Great Walk track, plan to meet your pick-up vehicle at a public access track, beach point or facility.

Assembly areas

Refer to the Cooloola Great Walk topographic map (PDF, 3.2M) for a waypoints table which indicates where assembly areas (AA) are located.

Please note:

  • Assembly Areas are not 'safe havens' from bushfires, floods, cyclones, tsunami or storms.
  • Not every area is an evacuation point.
  • In potentially dangerous or emergency situations, Assembly Areas may offer you some protection or at least a place from which you may more easily be located.
  • Do not rely on mobile phone coverage at these areas.
  • In medical emergencies, seek advice from Triple Zero (000) operators before moving to an Assembly Area.

Help can be hours away

Remote rescues may take a long time, however they may be quicker from defined Assembly Areas as marked on the Cooloola Great Walk topographic map (PDF, 3.2M).

Keep in mind:

  • You won’t be evacuated in an emergency unless you inform the rescue authorities that you need help.
  • Medivac helicopters are available for serious medical emergencies.
  • Personal locator beacons (PLBs) help rescuers locate your position.
  • If rescuers don’t know your position, two members of your group should move to a nearby clearing and signal the pilot by waving brightly coloured coats or a tent fly.
  • One person should always stay with the sick or injured person.

Proper use of a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

PLBs should only be used when there is a threat of grave and imminent danger.

  • In the event of accidental activation, switch off the PLB.
  • Notify the Rescue Coordination Centre Australia as soon as possible by calling 1800 641 792 to ensure a search and rescue operation is not commenced.

Be prepared for disaster

Tsunami, cyclones and extremely high tides can occur along coastal areas. The Noosa River catchment is susceptible to flooding, which cuts off escape routes.

For comprehensive information on preparing for floods, cyclones, tsunami and severe storms, visit Queensland Disaster Management Services.

On hearing a tsunami warning...

  • Act immediately!—as you may only have minutes to respond.
  • Move to higher ground—at least 10m.
  • Move further than a kilometre inland from coastal beaches.

Walk softly

Stay on the formed track. Shortcutting leads to erosion. Photos: Robert  Ashdown, Queensland Government

Stay on the formed track. Shortcutting leads to erosion. Photos: Robert Ashdown, Queensland Government

When walking across the Cooloola Sandpatch, observe signage and stay within defined areas to minimise your impact. Sandblows scar easily.

When walking across the Cooloola Sandpatch, observe signage and stay within defined areas to minimise your impact. Sandblows scar easily.

Over thousands of years, weakly cemented sand grains containing iron oxides produced rocky outcrops along giant sand cliffs in Cooloola. For your safety, keep clear of the steep, crumbling cliff edges of Carlo Sandblow.

Over thousands of years, weakly cemented sand grains containing iron oxides produced rocky outcrops along giant sand cliffs in Cooloola. For your safety, keep clear of the steep, crumbling cliff edges of Carlo Sandblow.

Cooloola is a special place that has been loved by generations of visitors. Help to protect the recreation area for future generations by following the guidelines below.

Camping

  • Only use existing sites at walkers’ camps.
  • Do not dig trenches or flatten or break any vegetation.
  • Leave your site in the same or better condition than when you found it, so others can enjoy the Great Walk too.

Leave pets at home

Domestic animals can harm or kill wildlife.

All domestic animals are prohibited in the national park, along the Cooloola Great Walk and all inland areas of the surrounding Cooloola Recreation Area.

Please note: Some domestic animals—horses and dogs—are permitted and may be encountered in designated beach areas around Noosa North Shore and some inland-council managed roads and trails.

Use water wisely

Water is not available at track entrances and is scarce along the track. All walkers’ camps have rainwater tanks. Although regular maintenance checks are done, good water levels cannot be guaranteed. Tank supplies rely on rain. The driest months are August to October.

  • Always be water-wise—use only what you need.
  • Please turn taps off.
  • Report damaged or leaking taps or tanks at your next best opportunity—call 13 QGOV (13 74 68). Mobile phone charges may apply.

Keep waterways clean

All detergents, soaps, sunscreen lotions, insect repellents and toothpastes pollute water and damage aquatic life.

  • Please wash yourself and your dishes 100m away from watercourses and lakes.

Stop the spread of disease

Soil carried in on camping gear and boots can contain foreign plant pathogens, such as Phytophthora (root rot disease), or some fungal spores which kill frogs.

  • Before you leave home, clean your walking boots, especially the grooves on the sole with a hard brush.
  • Clean camping spade and camping gear with a disinfectant wash.
  • Brush soil and plant materials out of your tent before each pack up.
  • Stay on the tracks.
  • Be frog friendly—never handle frogs, their eggs or tadpoles.

For more information watch the weeds, animals and pathogens web clip.

Your rubbish, your responsibility: pack it in, pack it out

Bins are not provided. All rubbish (including food scraps and bagged sanitary products) must be carried out.

  • Leave excess packaging at home.
  • Use sealable containers to secure food from wildlife.
  • Carry enough strong sealable rubbish bags or containers for your entire trip.

You can help the park by bringing out any other rubbish you find. Carry a small rubbish bag, so that even tiny scraps of tin foil, lolly wrappers, and cigarette butts can be removed.

Also see: A short video clip: reduce and recycle.

Open campfires are prohibited

Campfires increase the danger of wildfires. Collecting kindling or firewood is prohibited as it often leads to vegetation being trampled. Fallen plant materials provide shelter for fauna and food for insects and microlife—all forming a food web that keeps the forest healthy.

To reduce the risk of harm to your group and the environment:

  • Never leave lit fuel stoves unattended.
  • Supervise children when cooking on fuel stoves.
  • Test fuel stoves before leaving home.
  • Never use fuel stoves in confined spaces such as tents.
  • Use non-toxic manufactured fuels only—not wood-based fuels.

Fuel stoves should be used off the ground—minimum recommended height is 20cm. Take care to ensure ash or embers do not burn or singe ground vegetation.

Toilets

Toilets are provided at:

  • each of the Cooloola Great Walk walkers’ camp
  • Freshwater camping area
  • Freshwater day-use area
  • Double Island Point.

To assist the treatment process in the toilet systems:

  • Do not throw rubbish or sanitary items into toilets.
  • Please close the lid after use.

Toilets are not provided between camp sites along the Great Walk.

  • Bring a human waste disposal kit to take your waste out with you.
  • Kits are available from camping stores or online sales outlets.
  • Follow manufacturer’s directions on the packet and dispose of waste responsibly.

If bush toileting is absolutely necessary:

  • Bury all faecal waste and toilet paper in holes 45cm deep and at least 100m from watercourses, camps and tracks.
  • Cover your waste and the toilet paper with soil or sand.

Also see: Bush toileting practices for some short video clips

Tourism information links

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.

Further information

Great Walks topographic maps sales outlets

Great Sandy Information Centre

240 Moorindil Street, Tewantin QLD 4565
ph (07) 5449 8320 (for over-the-phone purchases of all QPWS great walks topographic maps)
Open: 8am–4pm daily except Christmas day.

Rainbow Beach
Rainbow Beach Road, Rainbow Beach
PO Box 44, Rainbow Beach QLD 4581
Open: 8am–4pm Monday–Friday except public holidays

Contact us

Last updated
29 August 2017