Just a couple of hours from Brisbane, Elanda Point is a relaxing place for family camping, or a great base for exploring the stunning Cooloola section of Great Sandy National Park.
Great Sandy National Park is the official name for the protected area that includes Fraser Island and the Cooloola Recreation Area -- a system of lakes, waterways and coastal bush behind Noosa Heads and Rainbow Beach. I've visited Cooloola many times, and it's one of those remarkable places that reminds me why national parks are so important.
While Cooloola does have a number of camping grounds run by National Parks, Elanda Point is a private campground run by commercial operators. Located just past the township of Boreen Point, beside sprawling Lake Cootharaba, Elanda is easy to reach and gives great access to Cooloola's attractions.
And what are these attractions, exactly? Well, you can paddle on the lake, using either your own kayak or canoe or hiring one from the campground boat hire service.
If you want to be more adventurous, you can paddle straight across the lake to do the Mt Seawah track. It took us about an hour to do this paddle in the days before we had children. You're then rewarded with a sandy bushwalk that features wildflowers in spring and great views if you climb Mt Seawah itself.
If you're a good paddler, you can head north across the lake (again, about an hour) and visit the Kinaba Information Centre, located over the lake itself. More fun still is to get past Kinaba and wind your way through some of the quieter channels in the Noosa Everglades. These are extraordinarily beautiful, with waterbirds, low-hanging trees, and tannin-stained waters.
If you don't want to paddle at all but you still want some exercise, you can bushwalk from the campground to Mill Point historic site (2.4km), Kinaba (6.1km), Fig Tree Point picnic area (10.2km) or Harry's Hut camping area (17.7km). (All distances are one way.) These are just some of Cooloola's many bushwalks.
If you prefer to simply lie around (as we did when we camped here with our children when they were small), it's a pleasant place to be. Lake Cootharaba has a small, sandy beach and is shallow for a long way out, so children are safe. In fact, it's so shallow that it's difficult to swim unless you walk or canoe quite a distance.
But while it's not a great swimming spot close to shore, it's perfect for paddling, digging, pottering and nature watching. On our last visit, my younger son was awed to see a stingray glide by. Back on land, my older son was similarly impressed by a couple of very hefty goannas.
The campground itself is grassy, spacious and well-maintained, with on-site owners who run a tight ship. It's peaceful and safe for kids to ride bikes, has clean amenities blocks, and boasts a large oval that's perfect for ball games. They don't take bookings (even during peak periods), and you can pretty much always get a spot.
Downsides? Well, as I said, the lake is shallow, and I consider the boat hire a bit expensive ($20/hour, $40 for a half day). Also, from about midday, a wind tends to spring up on the lake, which can make paddling difficult.
Regardless, however, I think Elanda is a great place for a relaxing family camping trip or day on the lake, and a good base for those seeking an active holiday. At $10 per person per night, you're unlikely to find better-value waterfront accommodation.
PS Because of Elanda Point's proximity to the National Park, open fires and pets aren't allowed.
Visited Elanda again yesterday and realised a few other things I should have mentioned. You can buy reasonable takeaway food from the campground office (e.g. chips, hamburgers, iceblocks, chickens) and they also show kids' movies during the school holidays. Close to the perfect family campground.