Great Sandy National Park

Great Sandy National Park is spectacular wilderness area north of Noosa, covering over 2,000 square kilometres. Today’s adventure took us from Elanda Point in the south, through the rainforests near Kin Kin Creek then northwards into the Cooloola section of the Park.

Elanda Point
We started on the shores of Lake Cootharaba at Elanda Point. It was an easy ride through this flat grassy section towards Kin Kin Creek.

Kin Kin Creek Bridge
Kin Kin Creek

The creek is stunning. We had visited here last week, and as we meandered through the rainforest that shrouds its banks we were glad to be back.

Harrys Hut RdHarrys Hut Rd

It wasn’t long before we were on the main track heading back to Harrys Hut. But today we planned to go further.

Noosa River
We stopped for a quick break by the idyllic Noosa River, watching a couple of canoes silently glide through the water.

Noosa RiverNoosa River

As we slowly rolled northwards along the river, winding through the Paperbarks and Cabbage Tree palms, I heard Paul say, “This is why I ride a mountain bike”…

Noosa River
(Photo: Paul Smith)

… I couldn’t agree more.

Noosa River
Noosa River

Although we’d only had a break ten minutes earlier, we stopped again to enjoy the view. Good rides are best taken at a leisurely pace.

Noosa River
Eric fished a plastic bag out of the water. He picked up one or two bits of litter during the day, and left the place in a better state than when he found it.

Great Sandy National Park
We left the river, following a vehicle track west through open Melaleuca scrub.

Eucalypts - Great Sandy National Park
As we progressed, the terrain grew thicker with Scribbly Gums contorted into strange shapes, their bark marked with the strange graffiti of insect larvae.

Cooloola WatCooloola Wat

When we reached the Cooloola Way, the road was blocked by a gate and a “Road Closed” sign. Someone had kindly penned a message on the warning sign saying “No worries. Keep Going. It’s ok”. To be fair to the sign’s original creator, the road was very rough. It would have been challenging in a Four Wheel Drive. However, it was a lot of fun on a mountain bike.

Cooloola Wat

Our plan from here was to push northwards along the Cooloola way. We didn’t have a clear course planned – we just wanted to see where we ended up. Sometimes the most enjoyable days on the bike are those where you have a plan that’s flexible enough to allow for unexpected discoveries.

Great Sandy National ParkGreat Sandy National Park

Eventually we came across a narrow track heading east, and decided to follow it.

Wandi Waterhole
Wandi Waterhole


Wandi Waterhole is a remote oasis of cool fresh water. We soaked in the pool before having lunch.

“I wonder what the poor people are doing today”, Eric thought out loud.

I concurred.

John Williamson sings “You know some people never see such things” in his song “The Cootamundra Wattle”. I can’t believe it’s taken me over half a lifetime to see “such things” so close to home.

Great Sandy National Park
Great Sandy National Park

As we made our way back south, we could see the dunes in the distance behind the beach on the Cooloola Coastline…

Great Sandy National Park

… slowly growing closer as we headed back to our starting point.

Rainforest - Kin Kin CreekRainforest - Kin Kin Creek
Kin Kin Creek Bridge

This is a stunning part of South-East Queensland. Except for campers at Harrys Hut, we didn’t encounter a single person or vehicle all day on this day-long ride. We had the place to ourselves.

Eucalyptus Sap

We rode almost 60km in about five and a half hours including breaks. The terrain was relatively flat – we only climbed about 350m in vertical ascent, but I burned about 2,400 kcal, and consumed about 4 litres of water.

This ride rates about 8 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.

Thanks Eric, Darb and Paul for a great day out!

UPDATE 17 March 2014.

Here’s Darb’s video of the ride.

Elanda Cooloola 2014-03-15 from Darb Ryan on Vimeo.

Total distance: 58.95 km
Total climbing: 845 m
Average temperature: 29.2
Total time: 05:20:39
Download file: activity_461037864.gpx
More data

6 Replies to “Cooloola”

  1. I always look forward to your write ups Neil. I have to get up there sometime,I may see when the Bushrangers have a ride going. Cheers Ken

  2. Hi, thanks for the great writeup. Am new to noosa, just moved up from adelaide, and researching good rides and canoe trips. Will def check this area out soon cheers Ralph

    1. G’day Ralph – There are some wonderful places around Noosa. Why not catch the ferry over from Tewantin to the North Shore and ride your bike up the beach to Teewah and back? If you leave on a day when low tide falls around midday you’ll have most of the day on the beach. Harry’s Hut is another great spot to check out, and the Noosa MTB Trail Network around Kin Kin and Pomona. If you need links to routes, please let me know.

  3. Hello, thanyou for posting this. I have been searching for pictures of Wandi Waterhole for days. Yours are the only ones and it looks lovely! Would you say that it is a large waterhole good for swimming? And also how did you find the midges out there?

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