Tuesday 25 July 2023

Cooloola Wilderness Trail, Queensland. 88km. July 2022


The Cooloola 'Great Walk', is located within Great Sandy National Park in Southern Queensland.

Utilising the established campsites gives you an easy 20km a day mileage with a variety of spectacular and changing coastal landscapes.  Definitely suitable for beginner hikers and those looking to take it easy and cruise.

This point to point trail is accessible by public transport and requires pre booking of overnight campsites to ensure overcrowding doesn't occur.

I jumped on the Cooloola with a companion in July 2022 straight after my thru hike of the Heysen Trail and thoroughly enjoyed this more touristy, well groomed track located between rivers and sand dunes and swampy marshlands with the Pacific Ocean roaring in the East.


Starting locations are Tewantin (Noosa) in the South and Rainbow Beach in the North.

Both would be fantastic starting or finishing points, however I chose to go Northbound and spend a few days kicking back at Rainbow Beach afterwards.

Before I caught the Premier Motor Service bus from Roma Street Station (Brisbane) to Tewantin I jogged to an outdoor gear store in Fortitude Valley and scooped up a gas cannister.  
Bus departed at 2pm, arrived at Tewantin shops 4:30pm, cost $34 per person.

We stayed at an BnB for the night and paid for the hosts to shuttle us out to the Noosa River ferry which is about 5km away.  

You cross the Noosa River via a vehicular ferry, cost $1 for pedestrians. Information here.

Wander up the road for a few kilometres and you're at the Southern Terminus.

To return to Brisbane the Premier bus from Rainbow Beach to Brisbane is $34 also, depart 7:40am, arrive 12:30pm.

Map sourced from Google Maps


I printed the free map on the QPWS site here.  The trail is blindingly obvious, no issue getting lost.  Keep the ocean on your right for the most part if you are heading North and enjoy the beautiful flora..

Map sourced from: parksqld


Pre booking camping sites is done on the QPWS site here.

You will have to create an account first.

Enter the region you are chasing- Southern Queensland Country, then choose Cooloola Great walk and starting date and your campsites are displayed according to vacancies.

We stayed at each of the following for one night each:


Price was $6.85 per person.

Rain water tanks and long drop toilets are provided at each site, plenty of flat spots away and spread out to choose from.


The track winds around over sandy hills, on duck boards through boggy wet areas and under magnificent towering trees.  There are frequent ocean views and a crazy amount of native wildlife bouncing about.  Nothing too strenuous from memory.


This was a fun wind down hike with my girlfriend after 40 solo days wandering South Australia's Heysen Trail.  
Although I couldn't get used to sharing a campsite with other hikers every night and the short walking days frustrated me a tad, this was a trail I had on the tick list for years and I would absolutely recommend it.

The Sunshine Coast is crowded and popular for very valid reasons and the Cooloola is a brilliant way to escape the crowds and meet like minded folk while exploring a delicious chunk of protected coastline.