Sunday, December 27, 2009

Great Sandy National Park

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.


  1. I really enjoyed joining you on your tour of the Great Sandy National Park. Lovely scenery. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks John. It was a great day.

  3. Hi Mick'
    Terrific shots of that part of the Great Sandy NP.
    Gates probably used to close the park in days of Total Fire Ban - at least that's what they do here.
    Loved that clear water over sandy creek bottoms.
    And the reedy lakes.
    Yes, they are Australasian Grebes. You can see their facial markings.
    Fantastic shots of the Angophoras shedding their bark, showing their fresh orange bark.
    The Ground Parrots will probably love the new growth in the burnt area, as it seems there is unburnt land adjacent. In hte local area, here (Barren Grounds) they refuse to allow burns. As a result, the Ground Parrots are very seldom seen now - as the sedges and other ground cover plants are now too dense. Some burning of the habitat seems to assist them. Obviously, preferably not a huge wildfire which would burn all their habitat.

  4. Hi Denis, glad you liked the park - or at least the parts we drove through. Thanks for supplying the name of the trees - angophoras. I realize now that I have seen some similar on the mid-north NSW coast but I don't remember them quite this color after shedding their bark. You're right about the ground parrots needing new growth and I am told that the park is usually managed for this. This time however the fire was too big to be controlled and we were all a bit worried for the rarer species of birds. re the gates - they are used for fire control but the main reason does seem to be to control the amount of damage done by the traffic. There were parts of tracks that we drove along that had been used as driving challenges! - not simply to get from one place to another. In the worst places there were meters of bare torn-up sand. Not good! I do wonder how many go into the park to SEE the park and how many go there to just tear around!