Keen on the Cooloola Great Walk but don’t want to commit to a multi-day camping trek? The hike to Poona Lake allows you to sample the trail in a single day.


  • Enjoy the serenity at beautiful Poona Lake
  • Walk through rainforest and gaze up at impressive strangler figs
  • Get a great view at the top of the Carlo Sand Blow

Up and Over Carlo Sand Blow

If you don’t have the time or energy to do the full Cooloola Great Walk (4-5 days from Noosa to Rainbow Beach), you can take a pleasant day hike to Poona Lake from Rainbow Beach and sample some of the trail highlights.

Start the hike from the Carlo Sand Blow car park at Rainbow Beach, following the Cooloola Great Walk sign and heading towards the Carlo Sand Blow.



Once you reach the Carlo Sand Blow, head directly across it and you’ll see a Cooloola Great Walk marker on the other side leading you onto a forested trail. You’ll be walking inland for the rest of the hike through bush, rainforest and onto the lake.

The trail is straightforward with clear markers along the way on the wide track. There’s a bit of up and down on the first few kilometres, but nothing too strenuous.

The rainforest section was shaded and cool during my visit, and I spent much of the walk serenaded by local birds and fascinated by the tall strangler figs.



You’ll reach the paperbark and tea tree lined Poona Lake in about 2-3 hours, with time to enjoy the tranquil water for a swim. With any luck, you’ll have it all to yourself!

Why Not Spend The Night?

After some downtime relaxing at Poona Lake, you have a couple of options, depending on where you want to end up and if you’re keen to camp.

You can return the way you came back to the car park, or if you’re after a longer hike, continue onto the Freshwater camping area or Teewah Beach.



Freshwater camping area offers up shady sites surrounded by scribbly gum wood land, and is serviced by toilets and hot showers ($2 coin needed), and a day use area with picnic tables and free gas barbecues. From the campground, it’s only a short walk from Teewah Beach.

If you’re equipped with camping gear, spend the night at Freshwater camping area before walking back to Carlo Sand Blow. Of course, you can simply do it as a light and fast return day hike.

Freshwater camping area can only be accessed by high clearance 4WD vehicles or walkers. Check on the Queensland Parks website if you need a permit to visit the Cooloola Recreation Area section of the Great Sandy National Park.

Essential Gear

  • At least three litres of water
  • Lunch and snacks 
  • Hiking shoes
  • First aid kit (including snake bite kit)
  • Hat, sunscreen, and insect repellent 
  • Camera
  • Camping permit and camping gear (if opting to camp)

How To Get There

The hike starts from the Carlo Sand Blow car park, which is located at the end of Cooloola Drive at Rainbow Beach. 

Skill Level


The trail is well-marked and has gradual inclines and descents, but it’s located in a remote area. There’s no phone service in some areas of this trail (including the campsite) so hikers should be self-sufficient and confident.


Carlo Sand Blow to Poona Lake: 9km one way/2-3 hours one way

Carlo Sand Blow to Freshwater Lake Campground: 15km one way/3.5-5 hours one way