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Great Sandy National Park
Karchi78 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Great Sandy National Park

One of the most loved natural attractions on the Sunshine Coast is the Great Sandy National Park, a breathtaking park that stretches over 56,000 hectares. These massive dunes are a surreal environment, though there are other significant highlights to explore in its natural surroundings.

Pristine beaches, rainforests, heathlands, creeks, swamps, mangrove forests, and freshwater lakes provide the ideal backdrop for adventure. The national park is divided into two areas: the Cooloola Recreation Area, located along the coast between Rainbow Beach and Noosa Heads. At the same time, the other is the Fraser Island or K’gari section which encompasses the biggest sand island in the world.

Great Sandy National Park Map, Camping Cooloola, Qld

All in all, the Great Sandy National Park is a paradise for nature lovers. Intrepid and seasoned hikers are recommended to do the 5-day Cooloola Great Walk, the most exciting way to explore the park. The trek starts at the Noosa North Shore and takes you through Cooloola and Rainbow Beach; you’ll pass through various terrains, including rainforests, dry woodlands, tall eucalyptus forests, and heath plains. While on the walk, other iconic sights you’ll visit include the Double Island Point Lighthouse, Teewah Beach, and the Noosa River.

Adventurers will love spending time within the park because of all the adrenaline-rushing moments that await you here. Four-wheel driving, bushwalking, swimming, fishing, and whale-watching are just as popular here too, and you can take the whole family for the experience of a lifetime. The park is home to two shipwrecks, the Cherry Venture and the SS Maheno.

Not to be missed here are the tremendous coloured sands formed over time when clay had mixed with old sand. Some of the vibrant colours here include yellow, red, and brown, all of which are indications of the high iron content of the minerals found in the sands.

Cooloola has some lengthy walks, including the Cooloola Wilderness Trail, which has a distance of 47.9km one way that takes between 3-5 days to complete, and the Cooloola Great Walk has a length of 102kms one way which takes 5-6 days to complete. This walk should not be attempted without a topographic map. Shorter walks are: Seary’s Creek, 200m (return) and take 10mins; Poona Lake, 4.2km (return) and takes 1.5hrs; and Freshwater Lake Circuit, 4.7km (return) and takes 2 hours. See attached images for more information.

Cooloola has many camping options, but please note that permits are required before setting up your camp, and fees apply. There are several locations: Teewah Beach camping area offers beach camping without formally defined sites; Freshwater camping area provides shady, sheltered spots set amongst scribbly gum woodland about 500m inland from the beach; Poverty Point camping area offers small, undeveloped coastal camping overlooking the tranquil, tidal waters of the Tin Can Inlet; Fig Tree Point camping area is set among open forests with some wet, closed forest types; plus many more.

The Great Sandy Park is an extraordinary place on the Sunshine Coast. Please note that domestic animals are prohibited in the Great Sandy National Park.

About the author

Michael Jones

Michael created and runs the Sunshine Coast Point website, as well as the Holiday Point travel brand that incorporates a network of 16 location based travel information and attraction websites around Australia, Asia, and around the world.

With 25+ years of online experience and a passion for travel (having visited the Sunshine Coast many times and seeing a lot of the region), Michael not only researches and writes content for the website, he also tinkers behind the scenes with the website functionality & design.

Please reach out if you have any questions or suggestions.


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