The local tourist information office is located at 8 Rainbow Beach Rd, tel: (07) 5486 3227, or fax: (07) 5486 3333. They supply free maps outlining local walks and can furnish advice on local attractions and where to go for the best windsurfing, scuba diving etc. They can also provide information regarding 4WD tours of Fraser Island and Cooloola National Park, sailing, houseboat and canoe tours, horseriding, hang-gliding, paragliding, fishing charters, accommodation and dolphin tours. They are open daily from 7.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.
The Cooloola Region Visitor's Information Centre is located at the Matilda Truck and Travel Stop, on the Bruce Highway at Kybong, 14 km south of Gympie, tel: (1800) 444 222. It can supply maps and information relating to the area's attractions. Also, see http://www.rainbow-beach.org or http://www.cooloola.org.au
Cooloola National Park
Cooloola National Park (56 600 ha) forms the southern portion of Great Sandy National. Stretching south from Rainbow Beach to the Noosa River at Tewantin, it provides a haven for indigenous flora and fauna threatened by urban development and is characterised by open heathland, banksia woodlands, dry sclerophyll forest of scribbly gum and blackbutt, rainforest, coloured sand cliffs, attractive and extensive beaches, a plenitude of birdlife, including sea eagles, and the freshwater lakes, mangrove wetlands and tributaries associated with the Noosa River.
Great Sandy National Park incorporates and preserves the largest tract of natural land on Queensland¹s southern coast and the largest intact sand dune system in the world (around Teewah Beach). Visitors can enjoy bushwalking, picnicking, scenic drives, boating, fishing, lake and surf swimming, although the beaches are unpatrolled, sharks are common and bluebottles are present during northerly winds. Whales can be seen offshore between August and October, while dolphins and manta rays are more regular visitors.
Cooloola offers many bushwalking opportunities which are best enjoyed when the wildflowers bloom in the spring. Walking leaflets are available from the Noosa Information Centre. There are many different tracks. Signs at the commencement of each walk indicate the distance. Wildflowers bloom on the heathlands in spring, which is the ideal time to visit. The Park is popular in school and public holidays so be prepared to book in advance at these times. For more information check out: http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/parks/cooloola-northern/index.html
Cooloola National Park (Hang-Gliding/Carlo Sand Blow)
Rainbow Beach is popular with hang-gliders who use Carlo Sand Blow to launch out over Wide Bay. The National Championships are held here each year in January.
The 15-ha Blow was named by Captain Cook after one of his deck crew, named Carlo. It offers excellent views south-east to Double Island Point and the coloured sands, west to Tin Can Bay and the Great Sandy Straits, and north to Inskip Point and Fraser Island. Whales can sometimes be seen offshore between August and October.
A 600-metre walking track (one way) departs from Rainbow Beach water tower, at the top of Cooloola Drive, and passes through woodland to the Blow.
Cooloola National Park (Coloured Sands)
If visitors walk eastwards from the township of Rainbow Beach they will see enormous, impressive sandy cliffs, which can be up to 200 metres in height. Erosion has exposed a palette of as many as 72 different coloured sands which have been produced by combinations of iron oxide and leached vegetable dyes. It is likely that the sands have been forming since the last ice age. More poetically, an Aboriginal legend tellsof a spirit which took the form of a rainbow. Entering into a fight over a young woman the spirit fell onto the cliffs infusing the sands with its polychromatic splendour.
Cooloola National Park (Telegraph Track and Murrawar Lookout)
From the end of Double Island Drive (which runs off Rainbow Beach Rd) walkers can commence along the Telegraph Track which follows the old telegraph line for 7 km to Bymien Picnic Area in Cooloola National Park. A 2-km detour leads to Murrawar Lookout which affords excellent views over Wide Bay, Double Island Point (which forms the eastern edge of Wide Bay) and Fraser Island.
Cooloola National Park (Bymien Picnic Area and Associated Walks)
4 km south of Rainbow Beach, along Rainbow Beach Rd, there is a turnoff on the left into Freshwater Road (unsealed but navigable in a 2WD) which passes through woodlands, climbing a steep hill to lead, after 3 km, to the rainforest environs of Bymien Picnic Area, which has small free gas barbecues, picnic tables, toilets, fireplaces and disabled access. The Dandathu Circuit (250 metres) is a pleasant rainforest amble witha 2-km return sidetrack which climbs a high, rainforest-clad dune, before descending through scrub to Poona Lake. The more ambitious can continue on through scribbly gum, blackbutt and rainforest to Freshwater Camping Area - a walk of 7.3 km.
Cooloola National Park (Freshwater Camping and Day Use Area and Associated Walks)
From Bymien it is only possible to continue along Freshwater Road in a 4WD. It is13 km to Freshwater Camping Area, which is located adjacent Teewah Beach. This is the only site in the Park which offers safe fresh drinking water so be prepared to treat water from the Noosa River and the rainwater provided at some sites or bring your own. Small, free gas barbecues are available at Freshwater and the only fire permitted is in the communal fire ring. Toilets, a public telephone and hot showers are available (the latter incur a fee for usage) and there is access for the disabled. To book a campsite ring (07) 5449 7959. There is a ranger station at Freshwater and a day use area with picnicking facilities. There is a 1.3-km walk from the campground to Freshwater Lake (one way), a 2.7-km circuit walk around the lake, and the 7.3-km walk back to Bymien.
Cooloola National Park (Teewah Beach and Beach Camping)
It is permissible to explore Teewah Beach in a 4WD at low tide, although conditions apply, such as speed limits and on the proviso that drivers stick to the beach and designated tracks. Beach camping is limited to a 15-km area along Teewah Beach between the boundary of the Noosa Shire in the south and Freshwater Creek. Self-registration stations exist at both ends of this zone. Permits for camping at Teewah Beach can be obtained by contacting the Rainbow Beach office on (07) 5486 3160 between 7.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m.
Cooloola National Park (Cherry Venture Wreck)
5 km north of Freshwater, along Teewah Beach, is the wreck of the Cherry Venture, a 1600-ton cargo ship sailing from New Zealand to Brisbane, which ran aground amid rough seas and disabling winds on July 8, 1973. Four years were spent trying to refloat the vessel before it was abandoned to its present fate as a curiosity upon the beach. Visitors are advised not to attempt to board the vessel which is now in a fragile and ruinous state.
Cooloola National Park (Double Island Point)
8 km north of Freshwater is Double Island Point which extends out to form the eastern arm of Wide Bay. It can be accessed via 4WD along the beach from either Freshwater or, at low tide, from Rainbow Beach (if coming from the latter check with a ranger regarding access past Mudlo Rocks). There is a steep 1.1-km walking track from Teewah Beach to the lighthouse.
Cooloola National Park (Kings Bore Road)
Kings Bore Road is an 8-km 4WD track which runs between Teewah Beach and Rainbow Beach Road. It departs the latter from a point 10 km south of the township and ascends steeply to the beach, requiring some careful driving.
Cooloola National Park (Searys Creek Walk)
7.5 km south of Rainbow Beach, along Rainbow Beach Road, there is a roadside carpark which is the start of a 100-metre walk to Searys Creek, amid heath and woodland environs.
Cooloola National Park (Poverty Point)
About 12 km south of Rainbow Beach, along Rainbow Beach Rd, there is a turnoff on the right into a 6-km dirt 4WD track which heads north to an undeveloped self-registration campsite at Poverty Point, situated on the eastern shore of Tin Can Inlet, at the end of a 4WD track that runs off Rainbow Beach Rd. Permits for camping at Poverty Point can be obtained by contacting the Rainbow Beach office on (07) 5486 3160 between 7.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m.
Cooloola National Park (Cooloola Drive, Harry's Camp and Upper River Camps)
About 15 km south of Rainbow Beach, along Rainbow Beach Road, is a turnoff on the left into Cooloola Drive. This 32-km 4WD track makes it possible to proceed (weather permitting) from Rainbow Beach to Tewantin. It passes through the Park's western catchment, offering scenic views, a profusion of wildflowers in spring, tall forests and banksia wallum.
From Cooloola Way it is possible to turn off into Harry's Hut Road, following it to Harry's Camp and Day Use Area on the Upper Noosa River, where there are campsites, toilets, sheltered picnic areas, a walking track, and rainwater which must be treated before drinking. To make bookings for Harry's, ring (07) 5449 7364. Note, however, that this area is flooded and closed after heavy rains, so check conditons: 137 468
There are also 15 designated bushcamping sites along the Upper Noosa River, to the north of Harry's. Fires are not permitted at these sites and there are no facilities, other than pit toilets at camps one, two and three which are located along walking tracks. These 15 camps are generally used by those travelling by canoe or boat (see entry on Noosa), although power boats are not allowed beyond camp no. 3.
Cooloola National Park (Cooloola Wilderness Trail)
About 20 or 25 km south of Rainbow Beach, along Rainbow Beach Road, is East Mullen Car Park which is the start of the Cooloola Wilderness Trail (46 km one way) which extends south to Elanda Point on Lake Cootharaba. It takes in two bushcamping areas with no facilities (Neebs Waterhole and Wandi Waterhole), as well as Harry's Camp and Fig Tree Point Camping Area. The entire walk takes about three days on average, although it can be extended by exploring byways. It can be enjoyed any time from April to November (sections are flooded in the summer and early autumn so check on conditions before departure). The trail attempts to recreate the path pursued by Eliza Fraser (see entry on Fraser Island).
Cooloola National Park (Southern Attractions)
For information on the Park's southern attractions, walks and campgrounds (including Lake Cootharaba, Mount Seawah, Kinaba Information Centre, Fig Tree Point Camping Area, more coloured sands and Cooloola Sandpatch), see the entry on Noosa.
Cooloola National Park (Fishing)
Fishing is popular along Teewah Beach the Noosa River and Kin Kin Creek. Refuse from fish cleaning must be buried at least 30 cm deep, below the high tide line, while, for those fishing the river, such refuse must be removed from the park altogether. Net-fishing is not permitted along the river or creeks and bag limits and size restrictions apply to some species.
Cooloola National Park (Tours and Further Information)
Several local companies offer scenic boat tours through the park's lakes and waterways, including the Everglades Water Bus Company (tel:1800 688 045 or 07 5447 1838), which departs from the jetty at Tewantin (Diyan St). They also take in excursions to the coloured sands and the Park's rainforests. Those wanting to explore on their own can hire boats or canoes at Tewantin, Tin Can Bay, Rainbow Beach, Boreen Point or Elanda Point. For details of 4WD tours, 4WD hire and other hire services and tour operators, see next entry.
For further information contact the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service 137 468
Inskip Point Recreation Area
To the north of Rainbow Beach (access via Clarkson Drive) the land forms a 12-km finger-like sandy peninsula which acts as a natural breakwater, ensuring calm waters at the entrance to Tin Can Inlet and the Great Sandy Strait between Fraser Island and the mainland. At the northern end of this peninsula the land form, if seen from above, or on a map, resembles the gaping maw of an alligator with the waters of Pelican Bay occupying what would be the oral cavity.
At the north-eastern corner of the peninsula is Inskip Point, known to the pre-colonial Aboriginal inhabitants as Carah. This was the earliest European settlement in the area, dating back to the early 20th century, when timbergetters worked in the district and a school was established for their children. A lighthouse keeper kept watch over the entrance to the Great Sandy Straits and zircon, ilmenite and rutile were mined here between 1965 and 1971.
The flora of the area consists essentially of coastal trees, such as cypress pine and casuarina, and coastal shrubs which provide habitat for a range of birds. The associated waters are rich in sea life and fishing is popular, though bag limits and size restrictions apply. Swimmers can enjoy ocean beaches (beware of strong rips) or the calmer waters of the inlet or Pelican Bay (beware of strong estuary currents). Access to Pelican Bay is via a 425-metre walk which commences at the roundabout near the day area carpark. Turtles, dugongs and dolphins can be seen offshore.
For information on camping, permits and regulations check out: http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/parks/inskip-peninsula/about.html
Fraser Island Ferries
Today, Inskip Point is known as the launching point for regular ferry services across to Hook Point at Fraser Island. There are currently three vehicular barges which all operate on demand. Departures kick off at between dawn and dusk, with extended hours in peak times. There is no need to book. Two of the vessels - the Rainbow Venture and Fraser Explorer - are associated with Eurong Resort on Fraser Island (tel: 07 4127 9122). The other is the Manta Ray, http://www.fraserislandbarge.com.au/. Prices are similar at both companies, passengers and their vehicle are $90 return.
Maps of the island are for sale at all ferry points. It is important to remember that a permit is required to drive on Fraser Island, for which a fee is payable. They can be obtained from the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service office at Rainbow Beach which is open from 7.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. daily, tel: (07) 5486 3160. There are also fees for usage of the camping facilities on the island.
4WD Hire, Tours and Activities
4WD tours are available from Noosa 4WD Eco-Tours, tel: (07) 5449 8252 or http://www.noosa4wdecotours.com.au/. One-day tours of Fraser Island depart daily from the Rainbow Beach Tourist Information Centre's office at 8.00 a.m. daily, returning at around 4.00 p.m. Bookings are essential.
4WD can also be hired, check out: http://www.rainbow-beach.org/content/view/162/349/. Interested parties should note that driving on the beach can be dangerous. Be sure to check tide times (the best time is three hours before and after low tide). If the sand is soft, be prepared to reduce tyre pressure to 15 p.s.i. where necessary. Road rules apply to all beach travel and it is illegal and dangerous for people to travel outside the cabin of a vehicle. Keep off the grass (otherwise erosion will destroy the dunes) and stick to well-defined tracks. A further local warning: if Mudlo Rocks, near Rainbow Beach township, are exposed, don't attempt to drive through the water to get around them.
The calm waters of the Great Sandy Straits (between the mainland and Fraser Island) are ideal for sailing, boating, sightseeing, birdwatching and fishing. Visitors can charter fully-equipped catamarans and motorsailers from usail2.com, located at Sunset Harbour Charter Base, Carlo Point, tel: (07) 5486 3610, or go to http://www.usail2.com.