Mudlo Rocks
  |  First Published: June 2004

IN A recent feature on Cooloola’s Double Island Point, I mentioned the infamous Mudlo Rocks below Rainbow Beach township, describing them as a major hazard to vehicles along this part of the coast. Well, Easter has come and gone and another seven drivers have paid the price of challenging the ‘Mudlo Rocks God’ by having their vehicles submerged in the surf.

Recent cyclonic seas have exposed vast stretches of coffee rock along Rainbow Beach, making the run from Double Island Point to the township very hazardous. The erosion is the worst I’ve seen since the late 1980s, with rocks exposed halfway to Double Island Point. On an early morning wander along the beach, I even found the remains of a long lost vehicle poking out of the sand.

A prominent expanse of coffee rock, Mudlo Rocks is normally only exposed just below the surf club at Rainbow Beach. These rocks eat four-wheel-drives – 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 prior sea conditions; at the moment there are several kilometres of exposed rocks to negotiate, while on other occasions the rocks may be almost entirely covered by sand. When the rocks are exposed, like now, take extreme care. Get out of your vehicle 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 the moment at which any water still covering the rocks is 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 you’re in any doubt at all, either wait for someone else with obviously more experience to successfully tackle them 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 (07) 5486 3155 (or (07) 5486 3279 after hours) or UHF channel 4 duplex and they’ll come and save you.

Cooloola is another fantastic Queensland destination contained in Dirty Weekends in South East Queensland: The Essential 4WD Guide.


1) Would you try to drive around this? Many do, only to later regret it.

2) The bloke in the Hilux managed to save his vehicle from being submerged, but only just! His mate in the Rodeo was not so lucky.

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. This Easter, seven vehicles were hauled out by Rainbow Beach Recovery.

4) How to be a crowd-pleaser at Rainbow Beach: simply bog your vehicle in front of Mudlo Rocks and let the tide do the rest! This Holden Rodeo spent Easter Saturday enjoying the surf, much to the amusement of holidaymakers.

5) Recent cyclonic seas have exposed vast stretches of coffee rock along Rainbow Beach, making the beach run from Double Island Point to the township extremely hazardous. If in doubt, don’t take the chance. The Freshwater Track might be further, but its definitely less risky.

6) You’ll need plenty of ground clearance to get through here safely. And this is the easy bit!

7) Halfway between Rainbow Beach township and Double Island Point, the remains of a rusty engine and two (almost new) tyres rise out of a sandy grave. This vehicle must have lost over a decade ago.

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