Weekend adventure: Great Sandy National Park, QLD

By Dallas Hewett 20 April 2010
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Southern Cooloola is a little gem that’s part of the Great Sandy National Park — made famous by Fraser Island.

THE COOLOOLA SECTION OF the Great Sandy National Park, south of famous Fraser Island, offers a diversity of natural landscapes, including vast areas of open wallum heathland, woodlands of banksia and scribbly gum, shady blackbutt forest, mangroves, towering sand dunes and crystal-clear lakes. Southern Cooloola starts just north of Noosa Heads and Tewantin, on the north side of the Noosa River, and extends to Rainbow Beach. There are amazing beaches to explore, sparkling lakes to take a dip in, and the beautiful Noosa River. Within half an hour of Noosa’s tourist-filled Hastings Street, you can find yourself nestled amongst the wilderness and tranquility of the Upper Noosa River.

The park has great camping, canoeing and kayaking and many walking trails including the 48 km Cooloola Wilderness Trail.

Walking: The park has a range of walks from half an hour meanders to the three-day Cooloola Wilderness Trail, which connects East Mullen car park in the north and Elanda Point in the south. Camping is available at Neebs and Wandi waterholes, Fig Tree Point and Harry’s campgrounds.

Canoeing: Easily the best way to reach some of the more isolated reaches of the Upper Noosa River, canoeing offers an amazingly peaceful way to view the environs, paddling on incredibly dark tannin-stained waters. Many of the campsites on the river are only accessible by canoe and finding yourself alone under a star-filled sky is more common than not.

Camping: Camping numbers in the park are limited. Bookings must be made prior to arrival with the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency. Harry’s camping is the only camping area with vehicle access. It has toilets, picnic tables and untreated water. Fig Tree Point can be reached by canoe, boat or walking, and again only basic facilities are provided. The more remote campsites are a treat for those who are keen to walk or paddle. Many have no facilities and it’s easy to find a spot where you can enjoy the tranquility completely alone.

Location: 155 km north of Brisbane, between Noosa Heads and Rainbow Beach. Take the turn-off to Boreen Point from Noosa and follow to Elanda Point.

Accommodation: Camping in park, permits required. Plenty of options in and around tourist mecca of the Noosa township. For a more low-key environment, try Boreen Point for camping and accommodation.

Food / drink: The park is entirely BYO, so come prepared. Great coffee, exceptional fruit toast and service at the café in Boreen Point.

Points of interest: Visit the Sir Thomas Hiley Information Centre (Kinaba) by canoe or foot. It is full of great displays about the region’s plants and wildlife. It’s also worth doing the mangrove boardwalk.

Maps: Cooloola Region Coast and Hinterland Queensland Government 1:100,000

More info: www.epa.qld.gov.au

Source: ‘Next Weekend‘ — Australian Geographic Adventure Sep / Oct 2009