Cooloola Great Walk (original inland route)

Great Sandy National Park

This is a 5 day hike starting at Noosa North Shore and ending at Rainbow Beach (or vice versa). The inland route is shorter, at 88.1km. This route includes Poona Lake on Day 5 (or Day 1 if you are walking North to South). The 4 campsites each have toilets (bring toilet paper) and water tanks. Do your homework, get the topo map, do the prep and you will have an awesome time. The Cooloola Sandpatch, Carlo Sandblow and Poona Lake are highlights, but the scenery is breathtaking at many points along the way. I have downgraded the difficulty to medium as while at times the going is hard because of the distance, overall the hiking isn't that hard and if you're doing a multi-day you've probably done some training, yes?

Bird Watching
Camping Permitted
Swamp or Wetland
Eucalypt Forest
Maximum Elevation

Getting there

How do you get to the start of the walk?


Cooloola GW topographic map

Route/Trail notes

A detailed description of the walk!


Book camping permits through QPWS

Other References


An epic walk! Hiked North and had wet feet from day one walking through the inundated heathlands to the beach. Amazing views of the lake from the first campsite and stunning sunset! We even saw whales breaching on day 2 whilst walking along the hind dunes.

I’ll do this again but try North to South :) and probably over 3 days.

EchidnaScout on 24 Sep, 2022

Was a good challenge (South to North). Unfortunately, it rained every day making it harder to enjoy at points. I also opted to do it in 4 days instead of 5, skipping over the second camp doing 35kms on the second day. Can't say I recommend doing the same, was a brutal day with the packs on and we underestimated how draining hiking across sand would be. Overall an amazing walk still! loved the challenge.

Harry Lamb on 12 Feb, 2022

Today we decided to do up our hiking boot's 🥾 and hike just shy of 30km of the Great Walk over on the picturesque Fraser Island 🏝

Today found us starting at Central Station hiking through some World Heritage Rainforest 🌿 passing the beautiful Basin Lake than into the very heart of the island to the magnificent clear glassy water of Lake McKenzie 🏞

Here you will find toilets 🚻
and designated caged area's that are dingo proof 🐕 where you can eat and drink.

From here we went on to Lake Wabby, which I did find the most challenging part of this hike due to many inclines 🥴

Lake Wabby is boarded by a giant sand dune on one side and lush rainforest on the other 🍃

From here we hiked our way back up the giant sand dune 😳 and down to the surf 🌊
Here you will find another toilet block before heading out to the beach 🌞

This was the final leg of our hike where we headed South back down the beach to Eurong where we are staying 🌅

This has been the longest hike we have ever achieved and we were so thankful to get back to our house for a very well deserved wine and a soak in the spa 🥂🍾🛁

Instagram:- misslissy79

Mel on 7 Sep, 2021

Completed this with a group of 6. A challenging walk due to distance and blisters, but overall an amazing experience. The hike itself is not difficult with only small climbs up and down the dunes. Beautiful landscapes and a really remote experience.

ct__ on 14 Aug, 2021

Walked from North to South. Last 3 days much more beautiful scenery once we could see the ocean. All the campsites were pristine and didn't see many people along the way. A bit harder than I thought it would be, having never done a 5 day hike before, but definately a great challenge for a beginner 🙂

Jodi Quick on 29 May, 2021

There are two versions of the Cooloola GW - 88km (original inland route) and 102 (alternative coastal route). I did the 88km version, walking south to north. It was amazing and the facilities were well-maintained. The tanks were topped up by QPWS the week before I did it. Highly recommend but do your research and make sure you prepare!

sarasvati on 11 Sep, 2020

Truly a once in a lifetime experience (because I will never put myself through that again). Although slightly underprepared and a bit inexperienced for a hike of this size, I found it really enjoyable and felt very accomplished by the end. The scenery was absolutely amazing and we were blessed with perfect weather for the entire hike.

One thing I will say is don’t underestimate how much water you will go through, even doing this at a cooler time of year, I found myself getting very low on water towards the end of a days hiking, and that was with 6L capacity.

Also the hills can be quite hard on your feet, be sure to wear in those hiking boots well before setting off and have some good thick socks to go with them.

The first day was by far the easiest with not as many drastic changes in elevation. We arrived at the first camp about an hour before sunset after a midday start. Great views towards the lake and incredible sunset.

The second day was a fair bit more difficult, the start along the hills overlooking the ocean was very picturesque. The great sand patch was definitely a mission in itself, you’re exposed for a decent 45 minutes so be sure to have a snack, water and put on some sunscreen in the shade at the southern end before you cross. We made the second camp in roughly 6hrs and 40 minutes.

Day 3 and we were starting to feel it, I had by now accrued some pretty gnarly blisters on my feet and my legs were getting quite sore. I’d recommend investing in magnesium tablets, they have been a lifesaver for me. Also a bit of sudocrem or even paw paw ointment came in handy for a bit of chafing in the thigh area if you’re prone to it like me. The scenery on day 3 wasn’t quite as nice as the previous 2 days but still quite enjoyable. The elevation profile was a bit intense in some areas however we managed to make the 3rd camp in about 5 hours.

Day 4 came around and bit this point we were contemplating combining the final two days into one and making the 35km slog to the finish line in one hit. We we’re sore, a bit stinky and just wanted to get home at this stage. We set of early, just past first light and began what would easily be the toughest walk of the entire trip. By my feet we pretty much numb to the pain of the blisters and my knees we’re not very happy with me at all. We tried to make as few stops as possible to get to the finish line, both to save time and also to not allow our bodies to realise how much pain we were in. (It was at this point that I realised I was not quite the seasoned hiker I was)

We had decided that in between breaks we would all just walk at our own pace and whoever was furthest ahead would decided when and where we would take breaks. The end goal was the only thing in mind by now and we would stop at nothing to get there. After 10 hours, 34 minutes and 27 seconds (a figure that will remain ingrained into my memory for years to come) we finally reached the Carlo Sandblow and stopped for a moment to take it all in before making our way across the final obstacle of this Goliath walk. The only thing I could think about is how good my feet are going to feel without these boots on, and how good that first beer at the rainbow beach surf lifesaving club will taste.

On completion the three of us who had spent the last 4 days together hiking through the wilderness, vowed to never attempt something like this again without some solid preparation. (We had originally decided to do this hike one night while drunk). However, looking back I do think I will one day do this hike again. Hopefully with a bit more preparation and experience, it will be more enjoyable the second time round.

I know this may not be as informative as others but I hope sharing my experience can help anyone wishing to take this hike on. By now I have completed 3 other great walks in south east Qld and have found them all incredibly satisfying all in their own unique way.

Good luck


Angus Anderson on 25 Aug, 2020

Is there tank water available at every campsite? If so how often is the tank likely to be too low? The website sends confusing messages. It says to carry water just in case, but 5 days worth of water sounds impossible.

emmitt on 22 Jul, 2020

I started from the bus stop in Tewantin and walked to the start of the walk proper which added 5km to day 1. If you can get dropped closer it would be better as your pack is heaviest on the first day.

Walked south to north over 5 days solo. 3 nights had the camps to myself, very few people around.

Packed way too much stuff in hindsight but was worth it. Camps 1 & 2 were the highlight for me.

ShavenWalrus on 16 Aug, 2017

Outstanding views from the ridge tops on a clear day. Really well maintained trail and facilities. Bring the whole family!

Don Graham on 6 Jul, 2017

Completed walk with Husband & 2 children ( 12 & 13) south -north
Fantastic adventure ! we had whole trail to ourselves didn't see any other human for 5 days . Track is well signposted & easy to follow. a few big days and guessing would be hot in summer. To our Suprise each campsite had a completely different feel & landscape . Toilets, water tanks and platform benches are provided at each camping area . ( tanks were full when we walked but still worth treating) check with rangers first on tank conditions. we did get mobile reception on a couple of the high ridges but not reliable. unfortunately some previous campers had lit fires, left rubbish and some toilets could do with a good clean. but the highlights over shadowed all... sunset at Brahminy overlooking lakes system, star gazing at the top of dunes system, whale pods moving up the coast, wildflowers a plenty, animal tracks on the sand blow , a golden sunrise on misty morning in a banksia wallum, A big python on track we stepped over , Rainforest critters at night, moss & fungi covered tree stumps, unusual bird calls in the canopy , refreshing dip in perched fresh water lake poona, stunning views of rainbow bay & ...the feed at rainbow pub at the end! this was our first ever multi day and overnight hike & i did a lot of research on what food and equipment to take . i'd recommend getting your pack weight down as low as possible ( we carried 14kg / 12.5kg / 9kg & 5kg respectively - mostly was food weight as my son gets hungry.. hence it reduced as we progressed ) there is some hilly sections and sandy zones and crossing sand blows with excess wouldn't be fun. I hear the walk is about to become commercialized and i hope that it doesn't become a highway in the process because the beauty of this walk is its remoteness. its one of the most memorable holidays our family has ever had. highly recommend !

Mel G on 28 Jun, 2017


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