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Sunshine Coast attractions

Great Sandy National Park

Sunshine Coast hotels

The Great Sandy National Park, also known as Cooloola National Park, is located at the northern tip of the Sunshine Coast between Noosa Heads and Rainbow Beach. It is a huge natural expanse with more than 18,000 hectares in the southern part of the park and 56,000 hectares in the northern part along the Fraser Coast. Proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are many unique natural landscapes enclosed in the park including mangroves with abundant fish and bird life, coloured sands in sweeping sand dunes, wallum forest, swathes of scribbly gum forest and banksia trees and clear fresh water lakes. Visiting Great Sandy National Park gives you a real sense of how idyllic and tranquil life here on the Sunshine Coast must have been for colonisation and European settlement.

There are various bushwalking paths throughout the national park ranging from short strolls to more strenuous hikes over challenging terrain. Some of the popular routes include the 2.2 km track from the Bymien picnic area to Lake Poona, which is a picturesque tea coloured lake where you can enjoy a refreshing dip in the fresh lake waters. Another popular track leads from Bymien to Freshwater Lake, this route is a little longer at 7.3km so be sure to pack your water bottles. The path leads you through open forest on the first portion of the track and into the kind lush sub tropical rain forest that only Queensland can provide. Alternatively, you can trek out to Murrawa Lookout along the old telegraph line through woodlands and rainforest from Bymien, which is a 7 km stroll.

For the more adventurous canoeing up the river is a relaxing way to enjoy the tranquility that is the everglades. Canoes can be hired from Elanda Point Campsite (1800 226637).

The National Park Office is at Elanda Point (07 5449 7364) and open from 9 - 3 where camping permits can be obtained. The Sir Thomas Hiley Information Centre (Kinaba) is at the north west corner of Lake Cootharaba and has displays and a self guided walk through the mangroves. It can be reached by boat across Lake Cootharaba or by foot from Elanda via the Kinaba track.

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