26°S 153°E Cooloola – Queensland by Degrees



Degree confluence 26°S 153°E, Google Earth



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Looking south

Point information by: Brian McGrath 2008 with additional information by Ken Granger 2008 and Audrey Johnston 2012.

Location: The site is located within the Toolara State Forest and is adjacent to the Great Sandy National Park, in the Gympie Regional Council area. It is about 2km west-south-west of the southern end of Tin Can Inlet.

The point itself is 147m east of power pole 87184 on Queen Elizabeth Drive, about 0.5km north of its intersections with Rainbow Beach Road. The point is located within very dense wallum scrub similar to that shown below. The site photos were taken from along Queen Elizabeth Drive close to the point.

The Landscape: The country around the point is generally of low elevation (less than 20m ASL) draining to Tin Can Inlet. The vegetation cover is fairly dense wallum scrub comprising a thick tussocky grass ground cover; an understorey of grass-trees, large reeds, and a variety of flowering wildflower shrubs; a mid-storey of Casuarina, Banksias and Grevillias; and a top layer of scattered large paperbarks, scribbly gums and other eucalypts. The vegetation at the site is shown in the photo on the left.


Scribbly Gum

The site is on sandy soil overlying quartz-rich sandstones of early Jurassic to late Triassic origin (230 to 184 million years). There are several small 'melon holes' (depressions in the sandy soil) around the point, which can hold water following rains.

The fauna of the area is typical of the coastal wallum country of south-east Queensland with birds probably the most commonly seen animals. Lorikeets and honey eaters are common and emus can also be occasionally seen in the area.


Grass Trees






Understorey Flower



The Country: The land within the degree square falls into three distinct topographic zones – the sand country that extends up to 35 km from the coast; the hill country of the interior; and the flood plain of the Mary River. Perhaps the most striking landscape feature is the sweeping coastline from the Noosa River to Double Island Point. The beach is backed by steep sand cliffs and tall dunes that have been built up from sand from rivers in NSW and transported by currents to be accumulated behind 'anchors' of rock such as Double Island Point – volcanic lavas dating from the Cretaceous period (133 million years old). The sand has been progressively blown inland to create a complex sequence of dune fields. This dune-building process has been ongoing for perhaps 700,000 years – the world's oldest recorded sequence of dunes.

Amongst the significant features of the Cooloola sand mass are several large sandblows – one of the largest is just to the east of the town of Rainbow Beach. These features have been formed where the strong on-shore winds have broken through the vegetation cover and continually drive the sands inland. Another popular feature are the bands of coloured sands that are displayed in the sand cliffs along the coast. They are the visible parts of older sand dunes that have been bound together by clay into stronger bands. The colours range through hues of yellow, brown and red. These colours come from the iron-rich minerals that have been leached from the sand.




The hinterland area is dominated in the south by the Tertiary period (65 to 2 million years) volcanic remnants of Mt Cooroora (the highest at 439m), Mt Cooroy, Mt Cooran, Mt Pinbarren and Mt Tinbeerwah. The first four of these stand out from the surrounding country as conical peaks.

The hill country of the south and west of the degree square are generally low (under 200m ASL) but are deeply sculpted by streams into a quite broken landscape. They are composed of a range of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks that range in age from the late Devonian to Carboniferous period (369 to 298 million years) of the Amamoor beds to the mid to early Triassic (251 to 230 million years) of the Kin Kin beds.

In its upper reaches the Mary River valley is generally steep and narrow, but becomes wide and shallow as it flows out onto the coastal plain. The Mary River has a long history of major damaging floods, the more significant recent floods being in 1955, 1989 and 1999. The flood of record was in 1893 which reached 25.45m on the Gympie flood gauge (the 1999 flood reached 21.95m). In its lower reaches the Mary River has been used for navigation by coastal vessels at least as far as Maryborough. The controversial proposal to dam the Mary River at Traveston Crossing to augment the water supply of south-east Queensland would inundate a large proportion of the valley within this degree square.


The Noosa River has a much shallower catchment, flowing through the Cooloola sand area and passing through a series of lakes. The lakes include Lake Cooloola, Lake Como, Lake Cootharaba (at the tidal limit) and Lake Cooribah. This river also has a significant flood record with 1968 and 1992 being major damaging events.

Climate: The site has a moist subtropical climate with a relatively dry winter. The nearest climate station at Toolara Forestry Station (20km to the west) has an average annual rainfall of 1 274 mm.

Toolara Forestry Station (site 04051) 1972-2008















Mean Max (°C)














Mean Min (°C)














Mean Rain (mm)













1 274.0

Extremes of Nature: The site and its immediate surrounds have experienced a wide range of extreme weather events including severe drought, tropical cyclones, severe thunderstorms and heatwaves. Cyclones Betsy (1992) and Roger (1993) are the most recent to have had a significant impact on the area.


Cyclone tracks within 200 km of the confluence, 1906 to 2006 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)

The area has experienced a range of severe weather events including tropical cyclones, east coast lows, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Much of the coastline has suffered erosion from the high seas generated by big storms. The frontal dune at Noosa, for example, was destroyed by the storm tide generated by TC Dinah in January 1967 – Hastings Street was knee deep in water. The village of Cooroy and rural residential properties around it were damaged by a super cell thunderstorm in December 2006 (see photo left). This storm system also caused damage at Tiaro, Childers and other centres in the degree square. Cooroy received 23mm of rain in 5 minutes and Tiaro had 2.5 cm hail. The weather station at Double Island Point recorded a maximum gust of 196km/hr – an Australian record for a wind gust in a thunderstorm.

The Indigenous Story: From Fraser Island to Noosa and west to the watershed were the Dulingbara, (people of the Nautilus shell). People of the upper tract of the Mary River were the Kabi Kabi or Gubbi Gubbi. There is also mention of the Wakka Wakka people in the inland areas. The Fraser Island section was home to people of the Badtjala language group. In most seasons the country yielded plenty of wildlife and fish; there are numbers of middens along the coast.

European Exploration and Settlement: In 1842 Andrew Petrie discovered and explored the river later to be named in September 1847 by Governor Fitzroy after his wife Mary. Later in 1842 a member of his party returned from the Darling Downs with sheep and settled near Tiaro. A wool store and wharf were established in Maryborough in 1847 and in December that year the first shipment of Wide Bay district wool departed Maryborough for Sydney. The original name of the settlement, the Port of Wide Bay, changed to Maryborough when the river was named Mary. From 1863, early European settlers were attracted also by timber getting – pines (hoop and kauri), cedar and hardwoods – both on Fraser Island and the mainland. By the late 1800s Maryborough was the second largest port in Australia and the entry port for 22,000 immigrants. The rich alluvial soils of the Mary Valley gave rise to a rich agricultural district with dairying and sugar cane amongst the principal activities.

Gympie holds an interesting place in Queensland's early history. It was the discovery of gold there by James Nash in 1867 which was said to have saved the young colony from bankruptcy. Tin Can Bay saw its first residents immediately post-WWI. In 1922, the first land was opened up there by the State Government, and commercial fishing commenced from there in the same year.

Today: Within the degree square today live around 127,248 people. In 1996 the population within the same area was about 108,200 and in 2001 it was around 115,800. The major towns within the area are Noosa (incorporating Tewantin, Noosaville, Noosa Heads, Sunshine Beach and Sunrise Beach), with a population of 22,735 people, Maryborough (including Tinana and Granville) with 21,147 people and Gympie (including Monkland) with 16,141 people. There are numerous smaller villages and towns dotted throughout the area including Cooroy, Pomona, Cooran, Tiaro, Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach. The key demographic statistics from the past three national censuses are shown in the next table.






Total population





Total males





Total females





Under 5 years





65 years and over










The main infrastructure elements within the area are the main and secondary roads, including the Bruce Highway; the main northern railway; and significant country airports at Gympie and Maryborough. Maryborough remains a minor port.

The only major water storage in the degree square is Lake MacDonald which form part of the Noosa water supply system.

Logging and timber-milling have continued since 1863 and continue to be important industries, both the native timbers and, more lately, the huge planted and regularly harvested areas of slash pine. There is a major sawmill in Maryborough and smaller mills throughout the area. A large Laminex factory on the Gympie-Tin Can Bay road also uses the slash pine.

Commercial oystering started in the 1880s and carried into the early years of the 20th century, but has largely disappeared. Prawns were 'discovered' in the area in 1955 and trawling for scallops and prawns is an important industry in the area; the fleet is based in Tin Can Bay.

Mining continues to be significant. Gold mining continues at Gympie, using more modern recovery techniques. An industry which came in recent decades, but has now ceased (mainly through environmental pressure) was sand mining on Fraser Island and the sandy isthmus leading to Inskip Point.


Mining industry

Dairying, sugar-cane, grazing and small crops are important agricultural pursuits. Mt Bauple is said to have been the home of the macadamia nut (also known as the Bauple nut or Queensland nut) that is now grown commercially in Australia and elsewhere.

The Wide Bay Military Training Area (Camp Kerr) occupies a large tract of land north of Tin Can Bay.

Tourism is a major industry today. Noosa is a major destination for people from the south of Australia during the winter months, while centres such as Rainbow Beach and Tin Can Bay are popular short break destinations for people from Brisbane. Rainbow Beach is also the southern 'jumping-off' point for Fraser Island using the barge service from Inskip Point. The old railway track through the Mary Valley is a popular steam train journey during holiday periods.

The Great Sandy Strait, including Tin Can Bay, is a "Wetland of International Importance" under the Ramsar Convention; it is an important stopover area for shore birds on their annual migrations. There are 176 land parcels that are designated as National Parks or Conservation Areas within the degree square. The main areas are the Great Sandy, Pipeclay, Mt Bauple, Mt Pinbarren, Amamoor, Glastonbury, Gympie, Poona and Noosa National Parks (see Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service for details).

Mill Point-A Johnston

When Gold Was discovered in Gympie in 1967, the demand for timber for housing escalated. Kauri pines and red cedar were logged in Cooloola and Kin Kin scrubs. This was transported via bullock to the mill at Mill Point. By the end of the 1880's 150 men worked for the mill company with the families making a thriving community. This all closed in 1892.

Dairy farmers occupied the area between 1910 and 1975, when the property was transferred to the Queensland Government and gazetted a National Park.

Today very little remains - only a rusted boiler and chimney of the dairy farmhouse.

Dularcha National Park- A Johnston

This National Park was declared in 1921. Cut through solid rock in 1890 a concrete-lined tunnel carried the Brisbane to Cairns railway line until 1931, when a flatter route was opened. Today it carries a telstra fiber optics cable with a council sewage main underground.

Cooloola - A Johnston

Cooloola, a mass of sand dunes covers and area of 192 km. It is 3502 km long and 9.6 kms at its widest. Probably named after the coastal cypress, the name is adapted from the Kalu word "Kululu or Coolooli". Evidence shows that Cooloola was once sand separated by the mainland by a sandy strait. Cooloola was discovered by Captain Cook in 1770. In 1894 there were 700 Kalu recorded as living n the area. After the Morten Bay settlement was closed in 1842. Andrew Petrie searched for new land to expand the settlement in the area for pasture. By 1866, Timber - beech, hoop and common pine was being logged from Kin Kin to Elanda Point. It was then milled and sent to Brisbane and Sydney.

With the discovery of gold in 1867, forests were exploited for timber for pit preparations and for the construction of houses. In 1881 the area was declared a forest reserve. The Mary Ann, the 1st locomotive manufactured in Queensland, by Walkens Foundry in Maryborough transported timber along a wooden tramway to Cooloola Creek then to Tin Can bay. The tramway was closed in 1884.

Cooloola Sinkhole 2011- A Johnston

Inskip Point was the scene of a huge sinkhole on Sunday 26th June 2011 at 10:30am. The sink hole stretching 100m wide and 200m on the shore line, sucking in trees, signs and mountains of sand. This is not the first sink hole of the area, as they have been happening for the last couple of years.


                   inskip               inskip1

Images courtesy of Margaret and Murry Johnston and Brian and Heather McGrath

Sinkhole 2012 - A Johnston

12 sink112sink2 

 Tin Can Bay

Tin Can Bay was once called Tun Kin, then in 1922 the named changed to 1922 anf finally to Tin Can Bay in 1937. In the 1850's, Dugong processing was the first was the first commercial industry, then came timber. but by the turn of the centuary there was still no permanent settlement in Tin Can Bay. The township started with 25 sale blocks of land in 1922, however in 1929 the township only had 3 permanent residents. The first shop was built in 1932 by Viv Mason and at the time 35 residents poulation the bay. The school was built in 1935 and the fish market was opened in 1945. Tin Can Bay was a holiday spot and port until 1957 when it boomed in the banana prawn industry.

Poverty Point - A Johnston


Poverty Point


Old Railway Line

Carlo Sand Blow
For more information on this feature within the square, take a look at the photo essay.

Site Summary


Toolara State Forest off Queen Elizabeth Drive

Nearest town

Cooloola Village


By road along Queen Elizabeth Drive 0.5km N of junction with Rainbow Beach Road


Flat and low-lying

Geology & soils

Sandy soils over Jurassic-Triassic sandstones


Wallum scrub with banksia and eucalypts

Land use

State forest


Moist subtropical climate with a relatively dry winter

Population in degree square

121 958 in 2006

Compilers: Brian McGrath 2008 with additional information by Ken Granger 2008 and Audrey Johnston 2012.

Edited by: Hayley Freemantle


Winifred Davenport, 1986: Port & Harbour Development in Queensland from 1824 to 1985, Harbours & Marine.

Cathy Hunt,circa 1993: Tin Can Bay Then and Now Resource Kit.

Ian Pedley, 1979: Winds of Change, 100 Years in Widgee Shire.

Pat Towner, 1994: Kabi Country - The Story of Kandanga, 2nd printing.

Cooloola Shire Council, 2001: Cooloola Shire, a Golden Past.

David Trezise, nd: Rock and landscape notes: brief backgrounds - Cooloola National Park, Geological Society of Australia (Queensland Division).

Cooloola Olds Unique Coastal Wilderness, G Miller and J Cosken

Tourism Queensland website.