The Great Sandy National Park is just east of where I live and stretches from Rainbow Beach south to the Noosa area. Most of the park is only accessible with a 4-wheel drive vehicle. As I drive to Rainbow Beach I often look at the park and wonder what is just out of sight over the hills. However, on Thursday I was lucky enough to be taken on a tour of part of the park with friends who have a vehicle capable of managing the roughest and sandiest parts of the tracks! Thanks Sarah and Graham. It was a great day!
The park is huge! and it's absolutely beautiful! (It's taken me more than 6 years to see this much of the park and who knows when I will get in again - so this post is going to be a long one!)
We drove through two sections of the park and I have marked and downloaded a Google Earth map. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)
We drove along the Rainbow Beach road and turned off on the Kings Bore Track. (Marked 1) At Camp Milo we took the right fork of the road. Usually this is behind a locked gate but the gates were open on both ends of the track. The gates are solid and appear to be how Park rangers stop some portions from becoming too degraded with all the traffic. Penalties are big enough to deter most I think -although you'd have to get caught first! We saw people with dogs - and those are not allowed in the park either!
This part of the park has much bigger trees than what is now left around the towns.
Frankis Gulch is at the bottom of a very steep sided gully. Even with so little rain recently the little stream still had a good flow in it. The way the light falls depends on how much water you can actually see. The white sand on the bottom of the stream makes it hard to even see water - the stream was at least knee deep everywhere. The track crosses the stream on a small bridge just above where we were standing.
Next stop was Lake Cooloomera. Reed beds completely surround the lake and it wasn't possible to get anywhere near the water. I could hear birds and see some swimming on the lake quite a distance away. The only photos were for ID only. The birds were ID'd for me as Australasian Grebes.
After this we took tracks east and then north - a much longer route back to the main road. The track climbed steeply up through some very sandy sections and then wound around on ridges until we finally dropped down again close to the main road. Again, the trees were beautiful. Some had such twisted trunks and branches.
The rainforest was thick down in the gullies and a few remnant stumps showed how huge the forest must have been before it was logged out sometime in the late 1800s. This is a huge clump of Elkhorns and there are more spreading down the trunk of the tree.
These gum trees had recently shed their old bark and the new color was beautiful against the blue sky.
Back out on the main road we turned south until we came to the Cooloola Way track (marked 2). It's down here and off on a side track that I saw Ground Parrots a year ago. I wanted to see how badly the recent fires had damaged the area. One side of the road had been completely burnt out but the other still had thick scrub. I hope the parrots had time to get out onto this other side!
Further south we came to the bridge which crosses the Noosa River - a narrow one-way bridge and a very small stream at this point. We went down the bank where the track used to ford the stream and sat and ate our lunch. Most enjoyable!
I really don't want a 4-wheel drive vehicle of my own! Too Big! Costs too much! Uses too much fuel! BUT I certainly wish there was more access into different areas of the park.