Cooloola Great Walk
Grab your walking poles and hiking boots and get ready to do The Cooloola Great Walk!
Welcome to a new bushwalking experience launched in 2018 that showcases the very best of the Queensland's Great Walks. Just 2 hrs north of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia is a remote region of 200 metre high giant sandmass, hidden sub-tropical rainforests and tall eucalypt forests and paperbark woodlands, where you’ll be surrounded by nature’s chorus.
This 88 kilometre, 5-day, 4-night, fully-guided, self-sufficient hike, links the Noosa Northshore to Rainbow Beach via the 500,000 year old Cooloola Sandmass which forms unique dune, perched lake and vegetation systems. To the west lies the unspoiled ‘River of Mirrors’ the Noosa River and the stark volcanic crags formed over 25 million years. To the East is Teewah Beach and Pacific Ocean where migrating Humpback whales can be seen.
The Sandmass provides habitat for the many rare and endangered animals including the Ground Parrot, Feathertailed Glider, Koala, Wallabies and more. Be captivated by the myriad wildflowers.
Four walkers’ camps offer tranquil camping experiences with toilets and freshwater. Enjoy meals with fellow hikers watching the sunset over western volcanic peaks and witness the Milky Way and Southern Cross in the night sky. Wake to the birdsong chorus as the sun rises from the Pacific Ocean.
Cooloola Great Walk - Noosa to Rainbow Beach, QLD Australia
Designed to hold you captivated for 5 days, the Cooloola Great Walk offers a chance to unplug and reconnect with nature in a wilderness landscape.
We invite you to share this wonderful natural world in small groups of six and an accredited and passionate Tour Leader. The walk is fully supported by a professional team for your safety and comfort.
How To Get There
Your unforgettable hiking adventure begins in Noosa Heads located in the UNESCO Noosa Biosphere Reserve on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, 45 minutes north from the Sunshine Coast Airport (MCY) or 2 hours from Brisbane Airport (BNE). After meeting you at your Noosa accommodation, we board the Noosa Northshore Ferry crossing the Noosa River to Noosa Northshore. Three minutes later the city is behind us.
The Cooloola Great Walk lies between the coastal towns of Tewantin, just outside of Noosa at the South-end and Rainbow Beach at the North-end.
Noosa/Tewantin is about 2 hours from Brisbane Airport (BNE) or 45 minutes from Sunshine Coast Airport (MCY). There is a 2-minute ferry ride from Tewantin to your one-night pre-walk accommodation and the start of the hike is located on Noosa Northshore. Please advise if you would like us to organise transfers to Noosa and/or from the start. Please note the Meet & Greet schedule.
After the finish of the hike our team will return back to Noosa after the celebration luncheon with any guest wishing to return with us. We highly recommend that you take this opportunity to take a few days to relax and explore Rainbow Beach, in the Gympie Region, home of World Heritage Fraser Island. Go to Post-walk Options.
Meet and Greet
Sunday: We will meet you at Noosa and transfer across the Noosa River by ferry to our accommodation for the night on Noosa North Shore. Native Bushland greets us as we drive off the ferry. The city is behind us.
2:00 pm: Check-in at Noosa Beach Road Holiday Homes. Relax, unwind and explore the surrounding bushland or enjoy the onsite swimming pool, spa and tennis court.
5:00 pm: Welcome BBQ Dinner
- Meet your fellow walkers and Tour Leader
- The Tour Leader will discuss the detail of the walk, gear and expectations;
- Overview of complimentary topographic map;
- Take this opportunity to ask any questions, make any changes to your pack to ensure that maximum weight (15 kg.) is not exceeded and is ergonomically packed.
DAY 1 - Noosa Northshore Entrance to Brahminy
Noosa North Shore track entrance to Brahminy Walkers’ Camp
17.3 km, 6 hours walking time
8:00 am: Depart accommodation to Arthur Harrold Nature Refuge, the start of Cooloola Great Walk.
8:15 am: The Arthur Harrold Nature Refuge consists of low coastal heath plains offering spectacular wildflower display from late winter to spring. We break onto Teewah Beach for several kilometres before climbing the Cooloola Sandmass. Keep an eye open for Hump-back whales breaching off the beach from June to November. Stop and admire the expansive views of the Pacific Ocean from Mt Seewah. The vegetation is windswept with communities of wallum heath, stunted bloodwood trees and whispering she-oaks. Lace monitor lizards can be seen sunning themselves and honeyeaters moving from tree to tree searching for nectar.
3:00 pm: Arrive Brahminy Walkers’ Camp to relax in time for sunset over the volcanic peaks and the Noosa River - simply stunning!
After dinner the night sky from our elevated campsite is something to behold.
DAY 2 - Brahminy to Dutgee
Brahminy Walkers’ Camp to Dutgee Walkers’ Camp
20.3 km, 7 hours walking time.
Wake early for the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean.
8:00 am: Depart over high dunes through woodland of Scribbly gum, Eucalyptus racemosa, and Blackbutt, Eucalyptus pilularis forests. You will have a glimpse of Lake Cooloola to the west, and 360° views of sweeping coastal landscapes. The landscape will change again walking upon a small patch of shady rainforest along this route, which contains the ancient Kauri pine, Agathis robusta, and Strangler figs.
We cross the one-kilometre wide Cooloola Sandpatch and will be rewarded with awe-inspiring views of the upper Noosa River lakes and Hinterland volcanic ranges.
The track descends onto heath plains with spectacular wildflowers in winter and spring, then winds alongside the upper Noosa River, “The River of Mirrors”, to Dutgee Camp located in the Noosa Everglades. Aptly referred to as the River of Mirrors, the black peat-lined creates a perfect mirror to reflect overhanging trees and sky above. Located in the UNESCO Noosa Biosphere Reserve, Noosa Everglades, one of only two everglades systems on Earth, is a world of water, wilderness and wonder. Dutgee is the Gubbi Gubbi word for the many species of native Boronias growing here.
3:00 pm: Arrive Dutgee Walkers’ Camp on the banks of the Noosa River in the Noosa Everglades.
DAY 3 - Dutgee to Littoria
Dutgee Walkers’ Camp to Littoria Walkers’ Camp
14.8 km, 6 hours walking time.
8:00 am: As you leave Dutgee and Noosa Everglades, look back across the heath plains covered with wildflowers in winter to spring, to the sandy finger-like extensions of the Cooloola Sandpatch rolling down the distant sand hills that we hiked the day before. You may begin to wonder what adventure is in store for us today.
The track meanders through historic timbered country of towering Eucalypt with vibrant tall, open forests of predominantly Blackbutt and Wattle. There are steep sections on this leg of the walk. We will see the ruins of Ramsay’s Hut, an old timber-cutter’s hut, a relic of Cooloola’s past timber industry.
3:00 pm: Arrive at Littoria Walkers’ Camp. This camp is set in a Eucalypt forest on a ridge. Listen to the sound of the sea breeze rustling through the trees. The word Cooloola comes from the name given by the Gubbi-Gubbi people to the coastal cypress pine, Callitris columellaris. Cooloola is the sound the wind makes as it whispers through the branches of the tree.
DAY 4 - Littoria to Kauri
Littoria Walkers’ Camp to Kauri Walkers’ Camp
20.5 km, 7 hours walking time.
8:00 am: Continuing north, the track emerges at a perched lake—Lake Cooloomera. The mildly acidic water is perfect habitat for the little “acid” frogs, Litoria cooloolensis, living in the reedy areas. Be very alert for snakes here—they like the frogs too!
Perched lakes are lakes situated at a considerable higher elevation than other bodies of water. It takes years to form in these sand dunes. A hard pan of organic debris, sand and peat forms a crust. When filled with rain, reeds and water plants which surround the Lake start to thrive.
The track continues over some of the highest sections of sandmass, through pockets of strongly scented, carrol scrub, Backhousia myrtifolia, a small rainforest tree with a cinnamon-like scent, popular as a flavouring spice for bush tucker (bushfood cuisine).
3:00 pm: Kauri Walkers’ camp sits on a ridge of rainforest. The gigantic kauri pine, Agathis robusta, growing here produces 3 kg seed cones which fall anytime from November to late December. Never linger too long under kauri pines!
Our last camp is under the canopy of the Sub-tropical rainforest. Night animals including Possums, Gliders and Owls are heard and seen.
DAY 5 - Kauri to Rainbow Beach
Kauri Walkers’ Camp to Rainbow Beach
15.2 km, 5 hours walking time.
Arise with the Cooloola dawn chorus. Many birds of the rainforest make up the Cooloola chorus, their songs pierced by the whip crack call of Eastern whipbirds, Noisy pitta, Fruit doves, Kookaburras to name just a few.
Ahead is Poona Lake, the largest perched lake in Cooloola, over 160 metres above sea level. Clean clear water with a slight tannin colour surrounded by glorious white sandy beaches. A beautiful contrast from ancient sub-tropical rainforests. We linger a bit longer here.
We reach a peak and behold, Carlo Sandblow, heralding the final leg of our hike. Beyond it a huge sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean with Double Island Point to the east and Tin Can Bay to the west. The track crosses the Sandblow for 200 m. Another 600m stroll through beautiful scribbly gum forest to the northern end of Cooloola Great Walk and our Finish. The township of Rainbow Beach is 1.2km from here.
1:00 pm: A congratulatory glass of champagne on ice and refreshments greets you as you exit the Cooloola Great Walk and “obligatory” photos to capture the crowning moment.
We celebrate the Walk with lunch, a deserved cool drink, an exchange of stories and laughter in Rainbow Beach. OUR SHOUT!
Tropical Treks will return to Noosa Heads after our celebration luncheon providing complimentary transfers to the coastal areas between Rainbow Beach and Sunshine Coast Airport.
Staying Longer In Rainbow Beach
We highly recommend staying longer to explore this vibrant coastal town and region. Rainbow Beach lies between Fraser Island, Great Sandy National Park (Cooloola Great Walk) and the expansive Pacific Ocean. Here you will discover an adventure playground with striking natural beauty, including the Coloured Sands, Double Island Point and World Heritage listed Fraser Island.
Rainbow Beach offers an idyllic getaway for beach-goers, eco-tourists, fishermen, campers and those wishing to step back and truly relax. Inskip Peninsula, 10 minutes north of ‘Rainbow’ is the closest access point to World Heritage listed Fraser Island (K’gari). The proximity to ‘Fraser’ makes Rainbow Beach the perfect base for exploring everything the region has to offer.
Stay/Play: There are many accommodation, tour and transfer options that we can book for you. Please let us know.
Fly: Air Fraser offers scenic flights over Fraser Island or to Sunshine Coast Airport to re-trace your steps of the Cooloola Great Walk.
Staying Longer In Noosa
Noosa offers a host of accommodations, tours and transfer options that we can arrange for you.
Noosa is a surfer's dream, this coastal stretch of point and beach breaks with sheltered bays and coastline surrounded by pandanus trees. Australia’s most elegant shopping strips — Hastings Street —offers stylish restaurants, trendy cafes, bars, designer fashion boutiques just a few steps from the turquoise waters of Noosa Main Beach.
FARE AND INCLUSIONS
FARE: $1095.00 incl. GST per person.
- Meals and drinks on the walk.
- 1 night pre-walk accommodation, nibbles, drinks and dinner at Noosa Northshore
- Transfers from Noosa to Noosa Northshore accommodation
- Celebration lunch, including drinks, at Rainbow Beach.
- Transfers from Rainbow Beach to Noosa after celebration lunch (Day 5)
- Camping permits
- Topographic map, Queensland Govt.
Note: Camp gear and equipment available for hire.
Special rates available for a booking of 6 guests.
Deposit: AU$150.00, non-refundable deposit per guest is required to hold a seat. Bookings made within 60 days of departure will require payment in full at the time of booking, subject to availability.
Final Payment: Balance of fare is due on or before 30 days prior to departure. Deposit and seat is forfeited if full payment is not received.
Payment Type: Credit Card (Visa or Mastercard) or Direct Deposit
Email: infotropicaltreks.comau or Call +61-407 388 747 to book or for more information.
Please refer to Terms & Conditions, next.
Walks depart fortnightly between:
Week 1: Sunday, 22 April 2018
Week 12: Sunday, 23 September 2018.
Please see the Departure Calendar
Travel Insurance is highly recommended. Make sure your insurance covers evacuation in case of injury or medical emergency and loss of or damage to gear. Tropical Treks does not cover these costs. You will receive a waiver/release form and medical form to be completed and returned one week prior to departure.
The walk is within a Queensland National Park and managed by NPSR Rangers. The walk maybe closed in extreme circumstances of fire, flood or other natural occurrences. If a walk is cancelled by Tropical Treks you will be reimbursed the tour price or offered an alternative walk. We do not cover the costs of accommodation, airlines or other costs and recommend you have travel insurance to cover these.
Temperatures in the Noosa are generally mild throughout the year. Autumn temperatures in March to May are between 13 to 25 degrees Celsius. The coastal location benefits from cooling sea breezes on warmer days. The climate remains steady with the change to winter with temperatures ranging between 7 to 22 degrees Celsius during June to August. Nights on the Cooloola Great Walk can experience cooler temps, however the trademark mild sunny days makes ideal conditions for walking and photography. Spring is similarly mild with temperatures reaching between 13 to 25 degrees Celsius during September to November
The main rainfall occurs in the first few months of the year with an average of 300 mm falling which drops off to an average of just 40 mm throughout the winter months.
So, the best months to do the walk are April to October. Just perfect.
This is a true hiking adventure. Fully self-sufficient while on the trail, we carry our own camp gear, food, water and personal items. National Parks does not allow open fire, therefore we cook with small, fuel burning stoves allowing us to have hot meals and hot drinks throughout the tour. Typically breakfasts consist of cereals/porridge/oatmeal. Lunches are sandwiches, wraps or crisp breads. Dinners are light-weight meals cooked on a stove. Tea, coffee and hot chocolate are available. Your guide will do the washing up (unless you really want to help)
We will need to time the day to arrive no later than 3:00 pm at each campsite. The Tour Leader will manage the day and may hurry stragglers along. Please advise the Tour Leader when stopping to take photographs.
There are four (4) walkers’ camps designated by Queensland National Parks, with raised platforms for seating, preparing meals and managing gear. Toilet (long drop) and fresh rainwater is available. The water must be treated or boiled prior to drinking, the Tour Leader will take care of this. On arrival at each campsite, pitch tents and prepare campsite, fill water bottles are the first jobs upon arrival. We strongly recommend that you carry 3-litres of water at the start of each day to ensure you have enough water to last the day. There is no water available between campsites. There is plenty of time to relax, bird watch, encounter wildlife and appreciate the scenery and the amazing night skies.
What You Need to Bring
We recommend that you pack lightly to limit the space required. Please refer to Gear List. Bring only minimal day clothing – you can rinse items out daily - and warm night clothing. Keep things as light and small as possible to allow for food & water.
The Cooloola Great Walk is a Class 4 track according to Australian Standards. Suitable for fit and active people with some bushwalking experience.
- In remote sections, tracks can become undefined after heavy rain.
- The tracks have a variable 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 with previous experience recommended. Capable of walking over rough ground with up to 15kg backpack.
- Ankle-supporting footwear is strongly recommended. Sock protectors or gaiters are handy.
Wildflowers – Spring/Summer
Cooloola is synonymous with wildflowers. Because of its great diversity of landscape Cooloola has a greater variety of flowers of coastal Queensland. The forests of Cooloola contain more than 100 species of trees and shrubs, and a big array of small herbs, orchids, lilies, and other lowly wildflowers, producing short-lived bursts of flashing colour. At least 726 species of flowering plants and ferns have been listed from Cooloola, and at almost any time of the year some of them will be on display.
Whales – June/November
Each year between April and November, Australia’s eastern coastline comes alive with the spectacular acrobatic displays of humpback whales. More than 20,000 humpbacks migrate north from April to August, and back towards the Southern Ocean from September to November, an epic journey of over 10,000 kms. After a summer of feeding on krill in Antarctic waters, these gentle giants migrate north to sub-tropical waters where they breed or give birth. On their return journey, the whales seek out playgrounds off the Noosa and Fraser coast to rest and allow the new calves to gain strength before beginning the long trip south. Look for their playful tail slaps, breath-taking breaches as they launch themselves out of the water, sprays and fin ‘waves’ - incredible when you consider their size … around 15m in length and weighing more than 35 tonnes.
The Noosa Everglades, one of only two everglades systems on Earth, is a world of Water, wilderness and wonder. Known as the River of Mirrors because of the amazing reflections in the water, the Noosa Everglades, in the upper reaches of the Noosa River, is a 60 kilometre stretch of pristine waters, magnificent flora and fauna and narrow waterways.
Hundreds of species of birds, lizards, kangaroos and other wildlife inhabit the diverse foliage. The flora of the Everglades is completely unique, with high twisting grasses, large swamp banksias, hundreds of different flower species, and of course, the iconic liana vines and trees that make the forest so dense. We will camp along Noosa River at Camp Dutgee at the end of Day 2.
The Cooloola Great Walk crosses the Cooloola sandmass, a 61,750 hectare section of the Great Sandy National Park, one of the largest accumulations of wind-blown sand found along the Queensland coast. Built up during the last 500,000 years, it conserves rainforest, tall eucalypt forest, dry coastal woodland and heath plains; vast sandblows, past perched lakes which you will experience on this walk.
Over million years, ocean currents and waves have swept sand north from the continental shelf of New South Wales and southern Queensland. Sand accumulates and covers the bedrock to form dunes parallel to the coast, leaving only peaks uncovered - today's headlands. Onshore winds blow some loose sand inland into hairpin-shaped dunes, which march inland over parts of older dunes, forming a sequence of overlapping dunes.
Cooloola Sandmass is a remnant of sand masses that once stretching 30 kilometre east. Major dune-building has continued in episodes as sea levels rise and fall, forming a sequence of at least eight overlapping dune systems of different ages, some more than 500,000 years old - the world's oldest recorded sequence.
Carlo Sand Blow
Carlo Sand Blow, a unique 15 hectare sand mass at the end of the Cooloola Great Walk. At its height, sweeping views of Pacific Ocean, the towering coloured sand and the coastline from Double Island Point to Inskip Peninsula and the southern tip of Fraser Island.
Carlo Sandblow provides a unique opportunity to witness geological forces at work, and showcases the dynamic nature of windblown sand. Sandblows form when strong onshore winds break through the vegetation cover, pick up grains of sand and drive them inland. They engulf forests in their paths, at rates of up to 1 m each year. Over thousands of years of sandblow development, plants eventually recolonise and stabilise the exposed sands. New sandblows can also form when the stabilising plant cover is damaged by fire and wind, walkers and vehicles. In Cooloola, new sandblows have overlapped older, revegetated blows to build the dunes up to great heights above sea level. Some being the tallest in the world.
The Gubbi Gubbi People
The dyungungoo, or territory of the Gubbi Gubbi covers the south-eastern coast from the Pines River in the South and to Maryborough in the north and west through the Hinterland. Women were adept at climbing trees and helping men capture small tree dwelling animals, birds and their eggs. The use of nets was common. The basic work of men in the task of gathering food was as hunters and fishermen. When hunting, men used their knowledge of bush lore, their agility and their tracking skills, as they hunted their prey. When fishing, they used their strength, their ability to stay underwater for long periods.(Dr. Eve Mumewa Fesl)
Fresh and saltwater fish, dugong, eels and turtles and their eggs were plentiful, as were shellfish and crustaceans. The wetlands were home to many species of bird which provided meat and eggs. Mammals and reptiles such as possums, kangaroo, bandicoot, and snakes were also utilized as a food source. Local plant species that were eaten by the local aborigines include yams, waterlilies, tea tree, bunya nuts, honey, berries, figs, cabbage tree palm, wattle seeds, quandongs and native plum.
Evidence of indigenous activity in the Noosa area includes shell middens, stone tools, scar trees and Bora rings. Middens were formed from the discarded shells from the seafood eaten by the aborigines. These large accumulations of shell material were considered a ready resource by the European settlers and were used as road base in the early days of Tewantin settlement.
Aborigines cracked, fractured and ground stone to shape tools that could be used for hunting and preparing food, including sharp stones for cutting and scraping as well as flat smooth stones for grinding seeds and rough plant material. Stones were also affixed to handles to create axes, clubs, and hammers.
The Aborigines also used bark to make shields, water containers, canoes and roofing for shelters and many trees that had their bark removed were left scarred and these scars are still visible on trees around Noosa today. (libraries.noosa.qld.gov.au/indigenous-history).
Cooloola is the Gubbi Gubbi word for the sound the wind makes as it whispers through the branches of the trees.
The Aboriginal people of Cooloola have strong connections to this land with many significant sites that must be respected.
Tropical Treks acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Cooloola and pay respect to Elders past and present.
Steve Grainger, owner/guide of Tropical Treks Guided Bushwalks and Birdwatching, is accredited by EcoGuide Australia, Senior Savannah Guide, Wet Tropics World Heritage Guide and Naturalist. He is a dedicated adventure traveler, white-water rafting enthusiast, hiker, sea-kayaker and birdwatcher. Steve holds Remote Wilderness First Aid, Whitewater Rescue Technician Certificate, Wilderness Navigation. His passion to explore is contagious.
Ch. 7 Queensland Weekender Pt. 1 - August 4, 2018
Why not swap the working week for the walking week, and spend some time connecting with nature?
The beautiful Cooloola Great Walk is the perfect way to explore the Coast's diverse terrain and get away for a while.
Ch. 7 Queensland Weekender Pt. 2 - August 4, 2018
Spending time in the wilderness brings your senses alive. There’s so much to see, hear and feel in the rainforest.
At every turn, there is something new and magnificent to see. On the Cooloola Great Walk, you certainly see the best of the East Coast.
Why Australian Hiking Holidays Should Be On Your Bucket List
For keen hikers still learning the ropes of multi-day treks, solo female travellers or anyone looking for a short holiday that gets them out of their comfort zone, a guided hike ticks a lot of boxes. You can learn new skills, meet new people, and gain advice and inspiration for your next hiking holiday while you’re at it.
Tracks In The Sand
Shelley Winkel signs up for a 90km wilderness hike across the Great Sandy National Park from Noosa to Rainbow Beach, but fitness isn’t her only challenge. The Cooloola Great Walk brilliantly captured in Tracks In The Sand, BNE magazine, July/Aug 2018.