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'Escaping nesters’ flock to Cooloola—here’s why

Your kids have flown the coop (finally) but you’re not moping around the house, poking your head into empty rooms. No way, you’re air punching! It’s your turn for adventure. It's time to pursue your travel dreams, explore new places and escape the nest too!

Well, we know just the place. Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park—so much more than that famous ‘sandy highway’ along the ocean beach—offers 'brag-worthy' adventures and dreamy nature escapes by the bucket load.

Speaking of buckets, we’ve pulled together a few of Cooloola’s lesser-known ‘must dos’ to add to your list. Tackle a new challenge or just soak up the peace and quiet in your own little patch of paradise. Just you, your partner (or a friend). Share your adventure with the birds, the odd kayaker or two and, possibly, a fisherman…

Two men rest on a jetty in the shade while fishing in the tree-lined river
Harrys day-use area | © Chris Whitelaw

Fishing, camping and birdwatching—all in one place

‘Fishing provides time to think, and reason not to’. At Poverty Point camping area, on the shores of Tin Can Inlet, you’ll have all the time in the world to fish (or think).

There’s easy water access for rooftop tinnies, kayaks and canoes—you’ll spend pleasant hours exploring the inlet, dangling a line and waiting in hope. At high tide you can cast from the beach, then at low tide, discover the remains of an old jetty from the area’s timber-cutting days.

And remember, the fresher the bait the more appealing it is to fish! Don’t use imported, raw prawns from the supermarket as bait, as they may carry diseases which can get into our waterways and harm our prawn populations.

Surrounded by mangroves (take plenty of insect repellent!), your idyllic camp site will be the perfect place to sit with a cuppa and watch birds—pelicans gliding on the calm waters and shorebirds feeding on the sand flats.

You’ll need a 4WD to travel the rough, sandy Poverty Point Road 4WD track—take your time and stop to admire the wildflowers in the wet heaths along the way.

A white four-wheel-drive vehicle is parked in the shade of trees that line the shore with the blue ocean as a backdrop.
Poverty Point camping area | © Chris Whitelaw

Unwind among the eucalypts and discover a little slice of history

On the banks of the Upper Noosa River, in paperbark woodland fringed by river she oaks and tall eucalypts, you’ll find the perfect nature retreat. At Harrys camping area you’ll want to set up a couple of camping chairs, and catch up on that novel or magazine you’ve been wanting to read for weeks… How’s the serenity?

Your journey along Harrys Hut Road 4WD track takes you through scribbly gum woodlands and cool rainforest to reach this secluded camping area. Stop to stretch your legs on the Boronia walk, where you’ll be entranced by colourful displays of native boronias and banksia woodlands.

When you’re well-rested, it’s time to discover some local history. Explore Harry's Hut, an old timber-getter's hut from the mid-1900s, where a winch-and-crane operation once transported logs across the Noosa River. After the Gympie gold rush of 1867, timber was a major industry in the Cooloola area for more than a century.

Vehicle-based camp set up in clearing among open forest.
Harrys camping area | Rob Cameron © Queensland Government

Experience our very own Everglades—journey into the upper reaches of the Noosa River

The tannin-coloured waters of the Upper Noosa River system, and its meandering creeks and delta lakes, make for a tranquil journey of discovery, with a touch of adventure thrown in. Known as Noosa’s Everglades, exploring this part of Cooloola is definitely an experience for the brag book!

Paddle a kayak (BYO, rent a craft or join a guided tour) to explore Lake Cootharaba and the winding ‘Narrows’, where sky and forest are reflected perfectly on the river’s mirror-like surface, making it hard to tell where the water ends and the sky begins. With no sounds other than the splash of the paddle, the lap of water against the kayak and the occasional bird call, this is one dreamy kind of adventure! At least until the wind gets up, then it becomes a damp exhilarating adventure!

If this all sounds a little too energetic, consider joining an Everglades tour—several operators offer a range of cruise options, where you can discover the mysterious and tranquil world of the Upper Noosa River from the comfort of a boat cabin.

Two canoes, with two people in each canoe paddle across a wide expanse of river, silhouetted in the orange glow of sunset.
Upper Noosa River waterway | © Queensland Government

Coloured sands and 'beachscapes'—four-wheel drivers’ heaven!

The Cooloola beach drive from Noosa North Shore to Rainbow Beach is one for the bucket list! This 4WD adventure offers breathtaking scenery of sweeping beaches, wide seascapes and high sand dunes...and watertight bragging rights!

You can tackle the drive as a day trip before heading to a camping area for the night. Or, if the entire trek doesn’t appeal, you can still enjoy a taste of the salty-side of Cooloola by driving south along the beach from the township of Rainbow Beach.

You don’t need to go far before encountering the stunning naturally-sculpted cliffs of coloured sands rising from the sandy shore. These natural art galleries make the perfect backdrop for a happy snap or two, to share with the family back at home.

A four-wheel-drive vehicle leaves tyre tracks in the sand on a long golden beach, with the ocean on one side and steep sand dunes on the other.
Cooloola beach drive | © Tomek Z Genek

Is it any wonder escaping nesters are flocking to Cooloola? The hardest part is deciding where to go first! Check out Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park for more information and have a closer look at all Cooloola’s camping opportunities. Always check Park alerts and Cooloola’s Conditions Report before you go.

Remember to book before you go!
Camping must be booked in advance.
Book now

Last updated: 13 March 2020