One of the most accessible beach camping spots in South-East Queensland has to be Double Island Point (DIP) or the Cooloola Recreation Area in the Great Sandy National Park.
The start of the beach at Double Island Point is accessed from the Noosa North Shore, 140Km north of Brisbane. It includes a short cable ferry ride across the Noosa River before driving onto the beach. Alternatively if you’re coming from the North, you can head into Rainbow Beach and drive south along the beach (only at low tide – see down further).
This is one of the first places that I ever visited when a friend back at Uni bought a Suzuki Sierra for $100 and we headed up for a day trip. Ever since I’ve been heading here every year with either family, friends or the boys for an annual trip. Access on and off the beach on the Noosa North Shore is easy these days thanks to new on and off ramps. Access point 3 in particular is easy if you’re towing a trailer or camper van.
Camping at DIP is in the dunes of the beach. You can’t camp anywhere however. There is a stretch that is marked just below the Fresh Water Track for approximately 15 Km’s south.
One of the key attractions for me is that you are still allowed to have fires on the beach. There is something to be said for eating a hearty breakfast that’s been cooked on an open fire.
Even in summer it’s never too warm to enjoy a good fire in the late afternoon and well into the night. I’ve been beach camping where you aren’t allowed to have fires and sitting around the gas light just doesn’t create the same atmosphere.
It’s important to note that collection of firewood in Qld National Parks is illegal and comes with a substantial fine. So make sure that you bring your own as Rangers often appear at camp to check vehicle and camp permits are in order.
If you’ve not camped at the beach before, it’s also important to make sure that the sand around and under the fire has been cooled down before you leave. The heat that is trapped in the sand can last for several days after you have left and can severely burn a young kid or unwary adult.
I love that you can walk less than 50 metres to the water’s edge and kids are able to swim in the surf. Pick the right location with a high tide gutter and kids will be able to swim in water that’s shallow and not too rough. You do need to be careful here though – cars on the beach are often moving with more speed than they should be. On weekends, it’s not unusual to see cars passing two or three abreast. Make sure you’re always supervising your kids when they are on the beach here. The worst thing you can do is park your car down on the beach and have people driving around you – your car makes it difficult for traffic to see young kids being stupid – an open beach makes this easy. For this reason I would very reluctantly head up to DIP on long weekends or school holidays.
The best time to come is outside peak and maybe tack on an extra day either side of the weekend. During the week is best.
One of my favourite activities is surf fishing and DIP has plenty to offer any keen fisherman. Depending on the time of year, nice whiting, bream and flathead can be caught using baits that are available on the beach. My favourite baits are fresh pippies and beach worms. Pippies are easily found when the tide is out by going for a short drive up the beach and looking for little bumps in the sand (about halfway between high and low tide marks). When you find a good patch of them, pull over and scoop directly under the lump to uncover the pippy. For the Mexican’s, Pippie’s are Cockel’s. Beach worms are also easily caught during the last hour of the outgoing tide by swinging a stinker bag and using pippies to distract the worm while you catch and pull it up out of the sand.
During Spring, the Tailor tend to run on their way north to breed. While we’ve not really hit them in the last few years I know people that have. They can easily be caught on three gang hooks with Pilchards or if they are on the chew, silver slugs make catching and getting back into the action easier.
While up at DIP, there are a number of activities / drives that you can do to break up the day. A walk up to the lighthouse is a must to enjoy the view and spot migrating whales during the season. It’s a bit of a walk uphill but the view at the top and on the way up make it well worth it.
Another popular spot is the northern side of DIP headland. The water on this side is usally calm and makes a great spot for young kids to play without the threat of rips. You’ll find this spot gets busy, especially when there’s a blow from the south east. Take note of the tide times when on this side of the head land. As the sand is often shifting due to severe weather events and access towards the headland gets cut off at high tide. The fix is easy – wait for the tide to go out.
From here, you can drive north along the beach to the coastal town of Rainbow Beach. Here you can top up with fuel, food and a grab a pub lunch. Between DIP and Rainbow Beach you’ll pass the coloured sand dunes which make this an enjoyable drive.
Note that this should only be done an hour before and after low tide. Approximately 300 metres from the beach access at Rainbow Beach the is a section known as the Rocks. Depending on sand movements, this can be easy to navigate, timing your run in between sets of waves, or it can be exposed rock. Many 4WD’s every year take chances crossing this section when the tide is too full or the rocks are too exposed resulting in swamped vehicles and write offs. Make sure you use caution at this section.
If you need to get to Rainbow Beach and the tide is high, you can also access it via the Fresh Water Track. This is approximately 22 Km’s long and is a nice drive. 4wd is required in parts due to soft sand and small climbs up hill. It is slow compared to taking the drive along the beach but if you haven’t done it before it’s worth a look.
At the beginning of the Fresh Water track you’ll also find hot showers that can be used with gold coins. Toilets are also available and the facilities are good and usually clean. Alternatively, you can back your car up onto a number of fresh water streams on the beach and have a fresh, cold shower behind the car. There are no other toilet facilities along the beach. Bin’s are the only other service provided.
Permits and Fees
Camping at DIP does require payment of fees. Both for individuals per night and vehicle. Some people complain about the introduction of the fees for vehicles, however I find since their introduction it is much more enjoyable when you do get there due to less people being present. What is unfortunate is that the money doesn’t seem to be re-invested into the parks. A common problem in Queensland National Parks.
You can register and buy permits here
If you haven’t been to DIP then it’s about time you did yourself a favour!.