Early last week I arrived home after completing the Cooloola Great Walk with two really good friends. The great walk is 102 kilometers over 5 days. We walked from Tewantin (just out of Noosa, Queensland) to Rainbow beach. You can walk vice versa but I LOVED finishing in Rainbow as it is probably one of my favourite places in the world. The walk was lengthy, tough, mentally and physically exhausting, blister ridden, beautiful, challenging, scenic and blissful all in one. It was a JOURNEY thats for sure. I am so so glad we did this, it’s really important to get out of our comfort zone sometimes. Below is my Cooloola Great Walk experience as well as a few reccomendations, enjoy!
We started at roughly 9am on our first day and staight away went to the DOC hut to get ourselves a lil map so we wouldn’t get lost(we didn’t!). We took the barge over the Noosa river for $1 and started walking from there. This was just over 2k from the start of the walk(we wanted to get extra steps in, JK). Majority of the first day was all along the beach which was so exciting and gorgeous for the first couple of hours but this ended up being maybe 10k walking of the flat sand and our feet definitely started to feel it. After the first 8k I would totally recommend to get off the coast and head towards the sand dunes to follow the track from there as the post with the orange arrow is quite hard to find here. On this note I also wouldn’t take advice from anyone on the beach. North shore is a really busy and populated area with loads of cars and people. The amount of comments/questions we were getting from 50+ year old males(wankers) were unsolicited and we really didn’t need a debrief from people that hadn’t actually had any experience in what we were doing LOL. We couldn’t wait to head inland and get away from civilization 🙂 this was a 7.5 hour walk day and we walked 22k. We made it to our first camp Brahminy at 4pm and IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL! We were the only ones there which made it even more special. Our view from the camp was the ocean to the right and lake Cootharaba was on the left. It was so so pretty.
Every camp was very basic. They have a few platforms which is more of a common area, to be able to cook food, leave your bags on etc. as well as a water tank, and a toilet. There are absolutely no showers or trash cans.
We slept well the first night. It was probably one of the coldest nights we had and we slept with our food in our tent which we soon realised we wouldn’t do again as there were rats that found interest, LOL. Speaking of sleeping arrangements. My friend and myself shared a tent and I’m glad we did. She carried the tent the whole time, buff bish. And needed the body heat. The coldest it got was probably 9 degrees, cold for us though. I had a sleeping bag as well as a liner(cheers mum) and the liner really helped with warmth and comfort. I also slept on a compression mattress(cheers dad) and its bag turned into a pillow. Very simple but effective set up. Next time I’d probably invest in a better quality/smaller sleeping bag IF I knew I’d be doing more of these kinds of adventures and I’d take a better pillow as we had quite long sleeps. There definitely isn’t a whole lot to do once you’ve eaten dinner and the sun goes down. We were in bed by 6 and up at 5.30 most mornings.
The second day was most likely my least favourite as there was unexpected incline and it just felt like a long day getting used to the weight on our backs(mine was about 13kg) and so much walking. It did have stunning views of the coast line which was amazing but again was a 7.5 hour walk day including a lunch break. Campsite number 2 was Litoria and was on the Noosa river but felt kinda swampy so was probably my least favourite campsite of the trip. The only time we shared a campsite was this night with two lovely local ladies. We only saw 3 people over the WHOLE 5 DAYS and they were all female, up the chicks.
Whenever the walking felt hard I found myself snacking. Snacking or talking would take the pain away from us thinking about our feet LOL. Snacks that we took and I would recommend are: snakes, trail mix of nuts, banana chips, mnms, dried fruit, we made heaps of bliss balls which were the best thing ever. They were heavy but did not get sick of them, they gave us such great energy. You also really want to have all of your food in big clip seal bags due to the fact there are no trash cans so what you take in you have to take out. We did a really good job with our rubbish and kept things really minimal.
This was probably one of the most enjoyable days on our hike as it was only a 15k day and we made really great time. We arrived at camp just after lunch and once again had the place to ourselves. The trek this day was soooo breezy and cinematic. The trees swayed the whole morning, it was beautiful. Considering we had the time when we got to camp we decided to walk to a nearby lake that was 5k return. I am glad we did this simply because we HAD the time but don’t know if those extra steps to go and visit Lake Cooloomera which was basically a pond with no access was worth the energy LOL. It makes a good story now. A friend said this was ‘decompressing after our walk’. Walking, walking and more WALKING. I feel like most hikers on this track do head here- hoping for somewhere to swim! We slept more or less downhill at Litoria camp so we didn’t get alot of wind this night- had a really great sleep.
This morning we woke and watched the sunrise with mocha’s as well as had a stretch, best start to the day! Day 4 was another 20k day that I was lowkey dreading but we had a great pace on us and it went fairly quickly. It was another 7 hour walk day but threw in a few podcasts and dnms and the hours flew. We saw heaps of cool mushrooms this day. Day 4 had a bit of a Cairns rainforest vibe to it. Super lush, green and tropical. We arrived at the fourth camp feeling relieved and happy to rest our feet but Kauri walkers camp wasn’t the best on the track and we didn’t overly struggle with mosquitos on the track but they were bad at Kauri. We made a team decision to walk a few extra K to some water that we’d heard about. Best. Decision. Ever. This was our biggest day yet at 26k’s but it was so rewarding getting to go to sleep and wake up where we did. Camping under the stars this night was the best end to this adventure.
We were all STOKED to wake this day. We’d almost completed 100k! We knew we had a short morning which was so motivating. We started quite early and got to the sandblow overlooking Double Island and Rainbow Beach by 11am. It was so strange seeing other humans again. Getting to the sandblow felt like such an achievement! Once you get to the carpark which is where the hike ends you still have to walk into town which isn’t far but feels like a kick in the guts when you are SO READY to take your shoes off. We went straight to a cafe and treated ourselves to coffee. I cant even explain how good it felt to shower that day, drink something other than tank water(a freezing cold beer) and sleep in an actual bed with an actual pillow! I was so proud of myself and my friends and there is no one else I would have preffered to have had this experience with. As cliche as it sounds- it’s amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind to it. Some mornings EVERYTHING hurt, but we just kept going. And I think this is where having supportive mates on a hike like this really helps out. Couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it without them. Mindset and the people we surround ourselves with are two of the most imporant things, ever. Also kudos to our bodies for their resilience, day in day out. If you are after an overnight hike and really want to challenge yourself while viewing some of the best coastline our country has to offer- do the Cooloola Great Walk 🙂
- I personally loved starting from Tewantin rather than the other way around. Especially starting with a bigger day the first day. Im sure north to south is just as stunning! I had been told to start from the north due to the sun but the sun really wasn’t a problem
- Speaking of sun- we were very sun smart. Zinc every morning on our faces and upper bodies as well as sunglasses and we all wore hats
- I took three sets of clothes and this felt like plenty. One longer sleeve shirt was great for bigger walking days to protect my arms from the sun
- Three pairs of good hiking socks was enough. They dry super quickly and we hung clothes out as camp most nights
- Dehydrated meals are tasty. I’m sure we could have eaten mud and thought it tasted amazing post massive walk days but they were really good. We took the brand Outdoor Gourmet with 2 servings per packet and had these for dinner everynight
- Oats are a winner for breakfast. Filling and can change them up each day with PB, protein powder, nuts, dried fruit, hey even a bliss ball!
- Downsize your bag as much as possibly. The three of us packed so well considering we hadn’t done anything like this before. None of us took anything we didn’t use. Don’t double up on anything! It’s a waste of space.
- In terms of hygiene- baby wipes were an absolute delight to have with us. Hand sanitiser. Deoderant and a toothrush were the extent of my cleanliness. Don’t do this hike if you’re afraid of getting dirty and smelling. I repeat: there are no showers.
- We had a ripper first aid kit(shoutout Ranger Rose). You can’t take too many bandaids/blister pads. You’ll need them. If anyone had any blister avoidance tips I would love to hear them
- Invest in good socks, they are worth the money. I got half merino and half bamboo! So comfortable and breathable
- Take something to add to your water. BCAA’s, or something simular to give you energy and change up the standard tank water taste
- You’ll need water purification tablets. This is an easy process and rather be safe than sorry
- Have SOMETHING downloaded on your phone. A show, music playlist, podcast. This really helped me.
- A 2L bladder of water was personally enough for myself for a day
- Water and food are the heaviest additions to your pack and these two things are totally necessary so reduce weight if you can with gear/clothing
- A poncho is really handy to take(shoutout TC) if it rains or to wrap your pack in overnight. Every night was super dewy
- May was such a great month to do this hike. I don’t think I would enjoy it as much in summer. The mornings were so snug and comfortable. We really didn’t sweat a whole lot
- What you take in you must take out. DO NOT LEAVE ANY LITTER BEHIND. This is one of the most pristine areas I have ever come across. It needs to stay this way. Be smart before you leave and pack in as little rubbish to your pack as possible before hitting the track
- Take a head torch, these are helpful
- Something like tea or hot chocolate is really lovely to pack also for cool mornings
- We took a jetboil to boil our water for our meals and it was wicked. If you can afford one would recommend. So compact
- Take a pair of shoes to wear at the camp. You don’t want your feet in boots anymore than they have to be. I took lightweight thongs and i’m so glad I did because I even used these on the track when my feet needed a break
- Next time I’d take an essential oil spray or something simular to freshen up clothes, bedding etc
- I would invest in a good quality and compact caming pillow for 4 nights on this track
- A friend took a flask of rum and this wasn’t necessary but put a bit of pep in our step when we were feeling flat
- Take bathers to swim in Lake Poona, it has white sand all around and is so beautiful!
- Obviously let a few people know that you are doing this hike prior to leaving
- Don’t listen to dickheads on the beach that haven’t participated in this walk
- Take a rain jacket- just incase
- I took a 40L backpack and this was a great size for me
- Hiking boots with ankle support are a good idea as tghere is some incline/decline
- A piece of string to use as a clothesline is super helpful
- Giant clipseal bags will be used
- Keep an open mind and appreciate the simplicity
- JUST ENJOY IT!