“HEADING up to Double Island for the weekend!” It’s a phrase being uttered more frequently these days as scores of new 4WDers discover the vast array of delights on offer in the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park.
Double Island Point (DIP), Cooloola’s only prominent rocky headland, separates Teewah and Rainbow Beaches, the main attractions for most visitors. However, the area has much more on offer than just glorious sandy beaches. Attractions include sparkling lakes, crystal clear freshwater streams, towering cliffs of coloured sand, lush subtropical rainforest, the tranquil Noosa River, the rusty Cherry Venture shipwreck and a historic lighthouse to name just a few.
Cooloola is the largest expanse of undeveloped coastal habitat left in South-East Queensland. There’s enough variety to keep ‘the tribe’ entertained for as long as you like and if roughing it isn’t on your agenda, Noosa and Rainbow Beach have a good range of quality accommodation. Those who don’t mind spending the night under canvas can set up camp anywhere along a 15km stretch of Teewah Beach, south of Little Freshwater Creek (the nearest facilities are at the Freshwater Day-Use Area, a few kilometres further on from the Teewah Beach camping area’s northern boundary) or just off the beach at the shady Freshwater Camping Area (hot showers, flush toilets). A daily delivery service even provides ‘stay-put’ campers with the necessities such as bread, milk, newspapers, gas and ice while large industrial bins have been provided at regular intervals along the beach to cope with campers’ refuse.
The Cooloola Coast, and Teewah Beach in particular, rates as one of South-East Queensland’s most popular 4WD destinations for many reasons. Currently you don’t need a vehicle access permit to drive on the beach (unlike everywhere else in the region), the $9 return fare on the Noosa River ferry won’t break the bank and the drive from the ferry at the end of Moorindil Street, Tewantin along Teewah Beach to Double Island Point is just 50km, so the price of fuel isn’t really an issue either. Teewah is an ideal first beach-drive for beginners (many of the local 4WDer trainers run their sand driving classes here) with lots of signs, kilometres of wide beach ‘highway’ and easy tracks, and plenty of other vehicles around to lend a hand should you get into trouble. Standard 4WDs should have no problems getting around, however low-clearance vehicles (soft-roaders) often get bogged at the more popular beach exits as well as at both ends of the Leisha Track (a timber corduroy track that crosses the neck of Double Island Point, linking Teewah and Rainbow Beaches).
Cooloola’s major hazard to vehicles is the infamous Mudlo Rocks, a large expanse of coffee rock just below the surf club at Rainbow Beach. These rocks eat 4WDs! as the photos and the ‘Rock Toll’ on the wall of the Rainbow Beach Pub testify. The extent of the rocks and the consequent danger depends on earlier sea conditions; sometimes there may be a few hundred metres of exposed rocks to negotiate while on other occasions the rocks may be almost entirely covered by sand. If they are exposed, take extreme care. It’s sometimes necessary to get out and walk around the rocks to determine the best path before proceeding. It also pays to carefully observe the rhythm of the waves so that you can time your attempt to coincide with when any water still covering the rocks will be at its shallowest. ‘Freak’ waves have an amazing knack of appearing just as you’re halfway around, so don’t be afraid to take a few minutes preparing for your run. If in any doubt whatsoever, either wait for someone else with obviously more experience to successfully tackle the rocks and then follow their lead, or wait until absolute low tide before making your attempt. Be very careful! You can always ‘chicken out’ if you’re not 100% sure. If you do make an attempt, get into trouble and nobody’s willing to come to your rescue, call Rainbow Beach Recovery on b/h (07) 5486 3155, a/h (07) 5486 3279 or UHF channel 4 duplex and they’ll come and save you.
Despite some visitors’ apparent unawareness, all the normal road rules apply on Cooloola’s beaches. These include an 80km/h speed limit (50km/h near Teewah Village and Rainbow Beach), wearing seatbelts, a .05 maximum blood alcohol level, keeping to the left and carrying passengers only inside the vehicle’s cabin (riding in ute trays and on roof racks is prohibited). There are regular police patrols, and not always in marked vehicles. The usual National Park rules also apply, including no camping without a permit, no domestic animals, no collecting firewood (BYO) and the proper disposal of all waste (garbage and human waste). Please apply minimum impact camping practices during your visit: take only fish and photos; leave only footprints and tyre tracks, so Cooloola always remains one of our easily accessible, special places.
Cooloola is another fantastic Queensland destination contained in Dirty Weekends in South-East Queensland: The Essential 4WD Guide.
1) Pacific Ocean breakers roll onto Teewah Beach, south of Double Island Point.
2) The grassy Freshwater day-use area, just off the beach, has free gas BBQs, picnic tables, drinking water, toilets with wheelchair access and very informative display shelters. Just keep an eye out for the hungry goannas!
3) The warning sign at the Rainbow Beach carpark exit is there for a reason. Over the years hundreds of vehicles have been claimed by Mudlo Rocks as the Rock Toll and photos on the wall of the Rainbow Beach pub testify.
4) A 15km stretch of Teewah Beach, south of Little Freshwater Creek, is open to campers. The nearest facilities, however, are at the Freshwater day-use area, a few kilometres further north. A daily delivery service provides campers with necessities such as bread, milk, gas and ice.
5) Coconut palms frame the famous coloured sands of beautiful Rainbow Beach on the northern side of Double Island Point.Reads: 3012