Great Sandy National Park

Great Sandy National Park is a coastal national park in the Fraser Coast Region, Queensland, Australia.[1]

Great Sandy National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
The Cathedral coloured sands
Great Sandy National Park
Nearest town or cityHervey Bay
Coordinates25°02′43″S 153°12′36″E
Area2,195.55 km2 (847.7 sq mi)
Managing authoritiesQueensland Parks and Wildlife Service
See alsoProtected areas of Queensland


The park features untouched beaches, large sand dunes, heathlands, rainforests, swamps, creeks, freshwater lakes and mangrove forests.

Great Sandy National Park is divided into two sections. The Cooloola Recreation Area section is situated on the coast between Noosa Heads in the south and Rainbow Beach in the north and covers 18,400 hectares (45,000 acres). The K'gari (Fraser Island) section encompasses almost all of the world's largest sand island, Fraser Island, situated north of Rainbow Beach, covering 56,000 hectares (140,000 acres).



The land within the park is classified by BirdLife International as the Cooloola and Fraser Coast Important Bird Area because it supports a large population of black-breasted button-quails as well as many bush and beach stone-curlews, green catbirds, regent bowerbirds, mangrove honeyeaters and pale-yellow robins.[2] Cooloola is also home to the eastern ground parrot and has one of the last coastal populations of the emu.[3]


SS Maheno shipwrecked in 1935 and its rusted remains in 2007

The Cooloola section contains the Cooloola Great Walk, a five-day hiking trail. Boat tours and canoeing along the Noosa River are popular visitor activities. On Fraser Island is the 90 km long Fraser Island Great Walk.[4] Lake Cootharaba offers fishing, sailing and canoeing opportunities.

Whale watching, fishing, four-wheel driving and bushwalking are also popular. The park also features two shipwrecks; the SS Maheno and the Cherry Venture.[5]

The only place in the world where tall rainforest grows in sand is on Fraser Island.[5] Fraser Island has coloured sand cliffs on its eastern beach as well as numerous walking tracks from short boardwalks to longer walks which cross sand blows.

Fraser Island has more than 100 freshwater lakes including the largest perched lake in the world, Lake Boomanjin.[6] Lake Wabby is a popular swimming and fishing spot.[7]

A unique feature of Great Sandy National Park is the coloured sands which are formed by old sand get mixed with clay into a consolidated mass. The visible hues include red, brown and yellow which are a reflection of the iron-rich minerals embedded in the sands for thousands of years and brought to the surface by wind and water eroding the land.[8]


Access to Fraser Island requires a four-wheel drive vehicle. Parts of the Cooloola section are also inaccessible without a four-wheel drive. Vehicles entering the park need to obtain a vehicle permit for both Fraser Island and the Cooloola Recreational Area. Both sections have numerous camping areas.


Permits are required to camp in the park. In the Cooloola section there are about 15 camp sites.[5] Only electric motors and non-motorised vessels are permitted past Campsite 3.[9]


There are fines for feeding Fraser Island's dingo population or leaving food or rubbish which may attract them.[5]

See also


  1. "Great Sandy National Park (entry 44177)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  2. "IBA: Cooloola and Fraser Coast". Birdata. Birds Australia. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
  3. "About Cooloola Recreation Area". Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing. 21 August 2014. Archived from the original on 8 September 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  4. "Fraser Island Great Walk". Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing. 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  5. Explore Queensland's National Parks. Prahran, Victoria: Explore Australia Publishing. 2008. pp. 23–27. ISBN 978-1-74117-245-4.
  6. "The Lakes of Fraser Island" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 August 2018. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  7. "Lake Wabby". Queensland Holidays. Tourism Queensland. Archived from the original on 12 April 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  8. "Natural environment". Queensland Government Parks and Forests.
  9. (21 August 2014). Southern Cooloola, Great Sandy National Park: Frequently Asked Questions Archived 8 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
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