From an Aboriginal heartland to a popular tourist attraction, Cooloola Way has something to offer for all guests. It’s perfect for families, couples, and seasoned 4WD enthusiasts. Aside from that, it’s only around two and a half hours away from Brisbane, so it’s perfect for both short and multi-day trips.
So, why should you go to Cooloola Way? Explore this challenging 4WD track along Cooloola’s western boundary, connecting with Rainbow Beach road in the north. Drive through tall pine plantations, gum woodlands, and heathlands with wildflowers. Along the way enjoy glimpses of the scenic Cooloola sand mass to the east.
Are you heading to Cooloola Way this weekend? Read this guide to know more about Cooloola Way!
How Do I Get to Cooloola Way?
If you are from Brisbane, get on Airport Link/AirportlinkM7 in Windsor from Elizabeth St, Queen St, and State Route 15. After that, you can follow this route:
- Merge onto Airport Link/AirportlinkM7
- Use the left lanes to reach the exit toward Stafford Rd/Everton Park/Metroad 5/A3/Gympie Rd/Sunshine Coast
- After 1.1 km, keep right and follow signs for A3 and merge onto Gympie Rd/A3
- Continue onto M3
- After 4.7 km, merge onto M1
- Keep left
- Turn left at the 1st cross street
- Turn right after 84 m
- Keep right to continue toward M1
- Merge onto M1 after 73 meters
- After 42.3 km, take the exit
- At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Qld Bruce Hwy
- Turn right onto Pioneer Rd after 1.9 km
- Turn right onto Reserve St after 2 km
- Continue onto Pomona Connection Rd after 210 m
- Continue onto Reserve St and turn left onto Factory St after 1 km
- Continue onto Pound Rd and Pomona Kin Kin Rd
- Continue onto Gympie Kin Kin Rd
- Turn right onto Cooloola Way after 10.8 km
What Should I Know About Cooloola Way?
For thousands of years, Cooloola has been an exceptional place for Aboriginal people. The Kabi Aborigines were the first recorded inhabitants of the Cooloola region. This tribe lived an area from the Mooloolah River to the Burrum River. Evidence from the number of broken shells spotted on the beaches is evidence that the group consumed fish and various species mollusks.
In 1770, Captain Cook sailed past and named Double Island Point at the northern end of Cooloola. It was not until 1842 that Governor Gipps sent Andrew Petrie to explore this area and this paved the way for resource use of a magnificent area known as the Kin Kin Scrubs – where today, only a small remnant of this vast rainforest is left.
The Cooloola region is the birthplace of the Noosa River, which rises in the Como escarpment and is distributed by tributaries that work its way slowly across the wetlands. The river flows south, where there are many kilometers of scenic waterways to explore using portable watercraft such canoes.
How Are The 4WD Tracks in Cooloola Way?
Cooloola Way is designated as a 4WD track – and although filled with potholes, the road is mostly sand on a solid road base, making the journey a reasonably easy run. Some sections can be challenging to drive through (or impassable) after wet weather so check conditions before traveling.
Besides the beautiful scenery that you’ll see during the drive, one of the major attractions in this part of the track is Harry’s Hut camping and day-use area. There is an old hut located right next to the river, with respective signage revealing its rich history. This camping area is situated amongst the backdrop of the forest with each campsite nicely set in, making it almost hidden from the following site. Harry’s Hut is the only camping area located on the upper Noosa River that also has 4WD vehicle access (you can also reach it by boat). Several small access jetties service the campsites, which makes it very convenient for those who want to use the river for activities like kayaking, canoeing, boating (with electric motors), or fishing for bass or other fishes.
After looping back to Cooloola Way from Harry’s Hut and heading up north, you will eventually reach Rainbow Beach Road. Just before this road, however, this trek will head towards the beach, taking in the western and eastern firebreak tracks (can only be accessed by 4WD vehicles), before meeting Teewah Beach for the northern coastal run towards Double Island Point.
What Are The Other Things That I Can Do in Cooloola Way?
While driving through the Cooloola Way, you can explore these places:
The Cooloola Great Walk
This route extends to about 102 km of the bushwalking area within the Great Sandy National Park. The route begins at the Noosa North Short and passes through to Rainbow Beach, making it around a five-day journey.
On the trek, you will find yourself walking through a wide range of habitats, including a dry woodland, rainforest, a eucalypt forest, and heath-filled plains. This route is not limited only to experienced walkers since the gradient is not too steep. Recently, extensions have been made to the walk to allow visitors to go to Double Island Point Lighthouse, which is one of the main attractions in the area, as well as Noosa River and Teewa Beach.
Double Island Point
Double Island Point is the cape of Queensland, and it stretches from Noosa down to Wide Bay. Captain James Cook himself gave the area its name back in 1770 because of the shape that it resembles. Also, the area is perhaps renowned for its sandspit, which makes the impression that there are two islands. 4WD enthusiasts will be able to reach this point along the beach by choosing to go to the Rainbow Beach route or via Noosa Heads. The latter will require you to take a trip via ferry.
The lighthouse on Double Island Point is a must-visit. It was completed in 1884, and it has been powered using solar power since 1992. The lighthouse is currently unoccupied.
Wolf Rock is composed of not one but four volcanic peaks that are located just beyond Double Island Point. This area is also very popular with divers and is best known as a mating habitat for the grey nurse shark. Due to the endangered status of the shark, no fishing is permitted in this area.
Teewah Beach starts from Double Point Island and passes through to the Noosa North Shore. The Great Sandy National Park covers this beach, and it is an excellent access point for Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island for 4WD vehicles. Those visiting the area can also embark on a bush camping experience, although camping fees do apply.
The Cherry Venture
The Cherry Venture was a cargo ship registered initially in Singapore that ran aground in back in 1973. A few years ago, visitors could view the wreck from the beach, but due to tourists climbing the debris and the risks that followed suit, the hulk was taken away. But the steel propeller was left on the beach to serve as a monument.
What Do Other 4WD Enthusiasts Say About Cooloola Way?
“Technically yes the Cooloola Way would be called a 4wd track Smokebelch, but most 2wd vehicles with decent ground clearance would be able to negotiate it in dry conditions. I never thought once about locking my hubs in, and it’s a pretty well-maintained track really.” -rumpig (ExplorOz)
Where Should I Stay in Cooloola Way?
Permits are required before you can set up your camp, fees apply. Vehicle Access Permits (VAPs) are also needed when traversing beaches and some inland sand tracks in the Cooloola Recreation Area. A camping tag that has a booking number written on it must be displayed at campsites. Penalties apply for non-compliance.
Teewah Beach Camping Area
- Features: This campground offers beach camping access without formally defined sites.
- Access: The beach camping area can be accessed by 4WD vehicles only. Vehicle access permits are also needed to access this camping area. Access campsites via formed tracks only. Vehicles, tents, and camping equipment are not allowed on the foredunes for area protection.
Freshwater Camping Area
- Features: The camp offers large developed areas to accommodate school and other organized, non-school groups, within the Freshwater camping area.
- Access: 4WDs can access the camping area only via Freshwater Road from Rainbow Beach Road or Teewah Beach. Vehicle permits are needed to access this area.
Can You Drive To Harry’s Hut?
Harry’s Hut Road links the southern entrance to Cooloola via the Cooloola Way 4WD track with Harry’s day-use and camping areas. Harry’s Hut Road can be reached from the Cooloola Way 4WD track. Vehicle access permits are not needed if you want to visit Harry’s Hut Road and Cooloola Way 4WD track.
Are You Allowed Dogs On Teewah Beach?
Dogs are only allowed on the beach in a designated dog-friendly area on Teewah Beach, between the 1st beach access passing through Noosa North Shore and the beach at the northern end of Teewah township. Dogs must stay along the intertidal zone—between the low and high tide marks.