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4x4 Trip to Cooloola, Qld

By 4x4 Australia, 29 Jul 2018 QLD

4x4 Trip to Cooloola Qld feature

Here’s a coastal wonderland only an hour or so north of Brisbane.

Cooloola Recreation Area is between Noosa Heads and Rainbow Beach. It is beach-accessible from Tewantin, 155km north of Brisbane, and Rainbow Beach, about 240km north of Brisbane.

This feature was originally published in 4x4 Australia’s July 2012 issue

If you’re travelling from Brisbane for a daytrip or a camping weekend, the best way is through Tewantin. Catch the Noosa River ferry across to the North Shore then head five minutes past the Noosa North Shore Retreat. Hit the beach here and continue past Teewah and the Coloured Sands all the way to Rainbow Beach and Double Island Point.

Over the last year we’ve been putting an Isuzu D-Max LEIII (Limited Edition Three) through its paces and we couldn’t wait to give it a solid nudge on the sand here.

Beach access is fairly easy; once on the sand abide by normal road rules and stick to the signed speed limits. The drive is a quick one – less than an hour – up the beach to Double Island Point or Rainbow Beach.

There is a designated beach-camping zone about 10km north of the North Shore beach. Open fires are permitted unless otherwise specified, but bring firewood as gathering wood is prohibited.

There are plenty of great spots along the beach to throw in a line; whiting and dart are the main catch during the day. Late afternoon and early morning is the time to chase tailor in the gullies along the long stretch of beach.

4x4 Tips: Top 5 tips for driving on the beach

Besides fishing there are plenty of things to do and see, with beautiful coloured sand cliffs and sandy bushwalking tracks into lush rainforest. You can travel to Rainbow Beach and Double Island Point straight up the beach to Teewah Beach’s northernmost tip, then head inland via Leisha Track.

The entrance to the track is constantly affected by tides and swells and it can be eroded so severely that access is prohibited or restricted to low tide only. Check the Cooloola Condition Report (derm.qld.gov.au; updated fortnightly) before visiting the area.

The easiest and most popular track up to Rainbow Beach and Double Island Point is Freshwater Track. The entrance is about midway up the Teewah Beach camping zone. Freshwater Track is 14km of easy sand-driving to Rainbow Beach Road. It is a beautiful route with kilometres of canopy-covered track – we relished the trip in the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel D-Max.

Once you pop out at Rainbow Beach Road, turn right and head four kilometres onto Rainbow Beach. This stretch is a terrific spot, with accommodation to suit everyone, from campers to hotel-fans. You’ll find many conveniences here including tourist info, service station, under-body car wash, clothes shops and restaurants.

With luck, visitors to the area are able to spot whales, dolphins and turtles from Double Island Point lookout and the Rainbow Beach Carlo Sandblow – 15 hectares of sand overlooking the coloured sandstone cliffs at Rainbow Beach. The Sandblow is well worth the 600m bushwalk, with magnificent 360-degree views taking in Fraser Island, Tin Can Bay, Double Island Point and Inskip Point.

Cooloola Recreation Area is a great place for family fishing, camping and bushwalking. Spend a day, a weekend or a week exploring all it has to offer. 

The journey is all the fun on 4x4 Explore

Travel Planner

155km north of Brisbane

$10.35 per vehicle per day

Camping fees are $5.30 per person per night, or $21.30 per family per night. Bookings and fees can be paid online.

Spring to autumn

The closest main areas for supplies are Rainbow Beach to the north and Noosa North Shore to the south.

Visit derm.qld.gov.au/parks/cooloola.