Following on from our series on the Great Sandy Region of South East Queensland, here are some of the jewels in the crown that can’t be missed.
Poverty Point is an isolated, little-known spot on the southern shores of Tin Can Bay. It was developed by the logging industry around 1873 as a despatch point for the timber trade.
Logs were brought to Poverty Point via light rail and, later, trucks to be rafted up and floated to the Dundathu timber mill in Maryborough.
Today, all that remains are the tracks, stumps of the old jetty and some timber slides on the beach where logs were rolled into the water. For those seeking a quiet, isolated and silent camp on the shores of Tin Can Bay yet part of Cooloola National Park, this is ideal.
For the angler with a tinny or canoe, this is an ideal hideaway.
The 4WD-only track to Poverty Point is fairly rough. It leaves the northern side of Rainbow Beach Road about 17km south of Rainbow Beach.
The track passes through open eucalypt woodland and is gravel and sand for the first 7km or so before crossing wallum marsh and heathland. The wallum is quite a sight when in spring flower.
This section is smooth driving between humus-rich banks underlain by bleached white sands below the water table. It may be covered by tannin-stained water after heavy rains but there should be little risk of bogging but 4WD should be engaged for safety.
Beyond the marshland, a pleasant drive through tall, open woodland leads to Poverty Point, where the best of the many marked campsites are at the very end of the track adjacent to a small beach.
Trees provide shade, shelter and a great ambience to this little-frequented location – partly due to the sandflies and mosquitoes from nearby mangroves and marshes.
Some very large goannas are skilled at raiding tents and larders, so secure your food, if not your tent – goannas are persistent and have long, sharp claws that can easily shred your tent in search of food.
Just before arriving at the Point there are two tracks – one signposted as closed and the other not signposted. The first follows the approximate line of the old logging railway back to Camp Milo while the second takes you around the back of the Point to the salt marshes and flats.
From the water, the mangroves give way to tidal saltmarsh sedges and glasswort, then swamp oak, paperbark and eucalypt woodland on ground above the tidal limit and over a water table.
All these zones have unique vegetation and fauna and provide for many hours of observation and enjoyment. The birdlife is diverse.
Mangrove and saltmarsh systems are the nurseries of estuarine and coastal fish. Formerly regarded as smelly wastelands and ‘reclaimed’ for urban and other uses, today a more informed population regards these among the most fertile and rich ecosystems.
The food cycle is based on the humble mangrove leaf. When it falls it becomes the food source for a multitude of micro-organisms which with crustaceans, molluscs, worms that form the food chain and become the food for fish and birds.
Smaller fish are consumed by larger and so the cycle goes on. Remove the mangroves and the saltmarsh and this cycle ceases, and with it the health and prosperity of nature’s fisheries.
Poverty Point provides a great environmental experience as well as the gateway to Tin Can Bay for those wanting to explore its many intricate waterways by water.
When I was younger, Inskip Point, north of Rainbow Beach, epitomised the ultimate coastal bush camp – secluded and protected under coastal oaks, banksias and casuarinas among the dunes, an isolated beach on one side and the tranquil waters of Tin Can Inlet and Pelican Bay on the other.
Swimming, surfing, walking and beach and estuary fishing were all options while Fraser Island was only 15 minutes by ferry from the tip of the point. Gordon Elmers barge waged war with the opposition with ferry fees rising and falling as often as the tide. Life was rhythmic and simple.
Today things have changed. Camping is now only in regulated pay sites and the place can get very crowded, especially with the grey nomads who regard it as paradise.
In spite of this, Inskip remains a great destination, especially if you pick your time carefully outside the main school and public holidays.
Inskip Point is a complex sand spit formed by tides and currents at the northern end of Rainbow Beach. It has been ‘recurved’ by wave refraction and strong tidal motion, creating a unique environment with the ocean to the east, the entrance to the Great Sandy Strait and Fraser Island to the north, and Pelican Bay (part of Tin Can Inlet) to the west.
The constant turbulence and waves across South Spit at the entrance of the Strait is a constant reminder of the ‘river of sand’ transported north to constantly feed Fraser Island.
Inskip is about 8km north of Rainbow Beach by bitumen road or via the beach by 4WD.
For those wanting to explore Cooloola, go bush camping or visit Fraser short-term, this is the ideal base camp. Boats can be launched off the beach in Pelican Bay, protected by the spit. The main beach is exposed and subject to strong waves and tides.
Inskip Point is an active sandbar subject to seasonal and cyclonic erosion evidenced by eroded fore-dunes and undermined trees. Those travelling the beach should be aware of fallen trees and stumps and patches of quicksand. Both can prove disastrous.
Four main camps have been set up with an unofficial camp adjacent to the shores of Pelican Bay. This camp is renowned for its quiet waters, balmy conditions and spectacular sunsets.
The four camps are, from the south, SS Dorrigo, MV Natone, MV Beagle and MV Sarawak. All are great but differ. Check them out first and claim one before returning to your vehicle to set up camp – competition can be fierce.
Watch for overhead branches when driving the many tracks and always have 4WD engaged and deflated tyres before heading out on the beach. It is common to see drivers, many with caravans and trailer campers, head out onto the beach and end up bogged for some time.
Dogs under control are allowed – clean up the poop! Permits are required and rangers visit regularly. Fresh water and showers are not available but water can be collected from Clarkson Drive in Rainbow Beach township. Toilet facilities are available.
It is still hard to beat Inskip Point for a beachside bush camp and the ambience and bird life are superb.
The Noosa River Basin is a remarkable geological feature. Due to immense amounts of coastal deposition and a slight rise in topography to the north, the Noosa River flows south from its watershed in the low hills and ranges marked by Mounts Mullen, East Mullen and Elliot.
It is separated from the Pacific by the enormous mass of the Cooloola Sand Dune system, which rises in height and breadth from Teewah Village in the south to Double Island Point and Rainbow Beach in the north.
The Noosa River and its two main tributaries, Teewah and Kin Kin creeks, incorporate an intricate and extensive coastal lake and lagoon system – Lakes Como, Cooloola (both tranquil and for the adventurer), Cootharaba (the largest), Cooroibah, Donella and Weyba (the shallowest at 50cm).
All these lakes fall within national parks and vary significantly in characteristics while sharing common features. All are worth exploration.
From Tewantin, one can travel by powerboat to all the lakes except Weyba, Donella, Como and Cooloola.
The Noosa River beyond the Kinaba Information Centre (accessible only by foot or boat because it is located over water) is closed to powerboats but canoes with electric motors are permitted.
The Noosa River above Kinaba is accessible by canoe and kayak, as is Kin Kin Creek (an ethereal paddling experience with its tunnel effect of trees and branches) and Lake Como.
All these waterways are brackish; the level of salinity diminishes upstream.
Lake Cooloola is freshwater and accessible only by portage. Boreen and Elanda points are natural gateways for boating, located on the western shore of Lake Cootharaba.
Boreen Point has basic facilities and provisions and has changed little over the years. It has an excellent lakeside camping ground and caravan park set among oaks, gums and melaleucas.
Elanda Point, a former timber-milling centre and the site of the rescue of Eliza Fraser, has excellent open camping sites adjacent to bushland, marshland and the lake foreshore. It is extremely well maintained by NPWS and kangaroos and wallabies graze on the well-maintained lawns.
Sailing is popular on Lake Cootharaba and fishing is popular right along its length with some excellent bass along the upper Noosa River. Strict regulations apply so check them out.
The Cooloola Way connects the Rainbow Beach-Gympie Road to Pomona or Boreen Point. It is gravel and dirt road, reasonably well-maintained and is negotiable by conventional vehicles.
There are numerous forest tracks in the Coondoo Creek region which are moderate challenges when wet. The track out to Harrys Hut from the Cooloola Way is 4WD only but is easily negotiable.
Harrys Hut is a favourite location because of its relative isolation and solitude. There is excellent camping in the upper section of the Noosa River Everglades, with their tranquil, tannin-stained waters reflecting bankside shrubs and trees. It’s great for swimming, canoeing, kayaking and walking.
There are numerous marked campsites along the Noosa River up to its junction with Teewah Creek for those wanting to explore the region by paddle craft for extended periods.
For walkers, Harrys Hut is also the jump-off point for Lake Cooloola and the Cooloola Sandpatch, accessible by a walking track on the eastern bank of the river – you have to cross the river first!
The Cooloola Wilderness Trail, starting at the East Mullen carpark on the Rainbow Beach-Gympie Road, also passes through Harrys Hut on its way to Elanda Point. This 46.2km trail is renowned for is diversity of vegetation and wildlife.
The spring wildflowers are glorious. A number of excellent additional walks are centred on Elanda Point and Kinaba.
Lookouts on mounts Wolvi, Boulder and Tinbeerwah are great experiences yet Noosa’s cosmopolitan, nouveau-riche atmosphere is only a short drive away. You can swap your billy tea for a latte or cappuccino in Hastings Street but better wash that dirty 4WD beforehand because the average Hastings Street 4WD never tastes the dirt!Reads: 13054