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Rainbow Beach Hiking

Home > Sunshine Coast > Adventure | Health and Fitness | National Parks | Walks
by Roz Glazebrook (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published November 19th 2022
Hikes in paradise
Coloured Sands on Rainbow Beach
Coloured Sands on Rainbow Beach


Back in June 2021, I had a two-night camping and bushwalking trip to Rainbow Beach where we walked part of the Cooloola Great Walk.

Rainbow beach and coloured sands
Rainbow beach and coloured sands


I recently had the opportunity to go back to Rainbow Beach for five days, stay in a house and walk around the area with friends from my bushwalking club.

Interesting rocks on Rainbow Beach
Interesting rocks on Rainbow Beach


Rainbow Beach is 240 kms north of Brisbane. It is named after the famous Coloured Sands. It is the gateway to K'gari [Fraser Island], the Cooloola Great Walk to Noosa, and the Cooloola Wilderness Walk to Lake Cootharaba.

Pool at our house
Pool at our house


We planned to do day walks on the northern tip of the Cooloola Great Walk to Lake Poona, the northern part of the Cooloola Wilderness Walk to Neebs Waterhole and walks to explore the beautiful coloured sands on Rainbow Beach. These walks are in the Great Sandy National Park, which stretches over 56,000 hectares and also includes K'Gari.

Double Island Point in distance
Double Island Point in distance


The national park is divided into two areas: the Cooloola Recreation Area, located along the coast between Rainbow Beach and Noosa Heads and K'Gari, which is the biggest sand island in the world.

Bush track
Bush track


Nine of us drove up from Brisbane in two cars on a Monday at the end of October and returned on Friday. We stayed in a large, comfortable house with a pool. On the first day, four of our group went on a four-wheel drive tour to K'Gari (Fraser Island) as they hadn't been there before. The rest of us had a relaxing day walking along Rainbow Beach in the wind and rain, before having lunch in town,and then a swim back at our rental house.

Rainbow Beach and Double Island Point
Rainbow Beach and Double Island Point


I had been to Fraser Island four times previously, most recently just a few weeks before, so I wanted to spend more time exploring around the local Rainbow Beach area as I didn't even get down to the beach on my previous visit there. We had camped our first night on that trip in the caravan park before heading off on our two-day walk.



On Wednesday, we all set out to walk to Poona Lake and back via the Carlo Sandblow, a distance of about 22 kilometres. I was very surprised to see the change in the lake since my previous visit over 16 months ago.
Carlo Sand Blow
Carlo Sand Blow


On that visit, we sat on the large sand area around the lake but after all the recent rain, the sand had all disappeared under water. It was unrecognisable. I was planning to have a swim in the lake but changed my mind. Only one of us braved the water and potentially hidden tree roots.

Poona Lake, November 2022
Poona Lake, November 2022


Poona Lake in June 2021
Poona Lake in June 2021


I still loved the walk and we did go a different way on part of the walk that I hadn't done before. We ate out most nights trying out the Rainbow Beach Surf Lifesaving Club, the Deck restaurant and Quay Carlo at the marina.

We went to an area I'd never been to before on Thursday. We drove to Mullens car park on the Rainbow Beach Road, where the track to Neebs Waterhole started. It was 8.8 kilometres to the waterhole along an easy mostly downhill track.

Sign
Sign to Neebs Waterhole


There were only a couple of creek crossings and most of us managed without getting our feet wet. A couple of people got one wet foot after slipping on a clump of grass into the water. This track is part of the Cooloola Wilderness Trail. There is a remote campsite across the other side of the waterhole, which is part of the Upper Noosa River. The walk was very interesting with lots of grass trees, paperbark, banksias and tea trees. It reminded me a lot of some of the walks on Moreton Island at the back of Honeyeater Lake and Blue Lagoon.

Neebs Waterhole
Neebs Waterhole


Three of our brave walkers went for a swim in the waterhole amongst the reeds and rapids. The current was fairly strong but the water was shallow. It could be dangerous to cross to the campsite after heavy rain or flooding.

Neebs Waterhole
Neebs Waterhole


After lunch at the waterhole, we walked back to our cars. It was hot on the walk back as there isn't much shade. We saw a beautiful goanna on the way. I would like to go on a through walk one day and do the whole Cooloola Wilderness Trail walk.



When we got back to the cars, we drove to Seary's Creek on the way back to Rainbow Beach. After a quick snack at the picnic tables, we walked down a short 100 metres on the boardwalk to the creek. It was very beautiful and I went for a swim in the cool water. The water looked red from tannin from the tea trees. We saw some rainbow fish and an eel in the creek. Seary's Creek is only a seven-minute drive from Rainbow Beach. This beautiful and unique creek is known for its slightly golden orange colour, clear waters, and sandy shorelines.

Seary's Creek
Seary's Creek


Seary's Creek - Maureen's photo
Seary's Creek - Maureen's photo


It was another wonderful day and we walked about 17 kilometres. We went out that night to celebrate one of the women's birthdays at Quay Carlo on the Marina. We got there at sunset and it was very beautiful watching the sunset over the water with a lone Pelican cruising around.



Sunset at Marina
Sunset at Marina


Rainbow Beach looking towards Inskip Point


On our last day, we packed up the cars and went to explore Rainbow Beach before having an early brunch at the Deck before driving home. We walked about six kilometres along the beach. The weather was fine this day and the colours of the sand dune hills were brilliant golden and re. We passed underneath the Carlo Sandblow.

Carlo sand blow from Rainbow Beach
Carlo sand blow from Rainbow Beach


It was a wonderful 5-day break with lots of exercise and great company. I'm already looking forward to going back to Rainbow Beach again next year. There is still so much to explore there.

Rainbow Beach Walk
Rainbow Beach Walk
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Why? A beautiful area for walking
When: Anytime
Where: Rainbow Beach, Great Sandy National Park
Cost: Accommodation costs
Your Comment
My husband and I went to Fraser Island a few years ago but it was only a day trip. I would love to return for a better look.
by Gayle Beveridge-Marien (score: 4|10118) 13 days ago
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