Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Rainbow Beach: Queensland's best kept secret

Rainbow Beach is a small beach-side town 239 km north of Brisbane that is located so far out of the way that many choose to cross on the barge from Noosa North Shore, and 4WD along the beachfront around Double Island Point to get there. Being the gateway to the World Heritage listed Fraser Island, the only way to get to Rainbow Beach by conventional car is to head north along the Bruce Highway and turn off at Gympie for the hour long drive through miles of nothing before reaching the beach side town of just over 1,000.

The Carlo Sandblow is a 10 minute walk from the heart of Rainbow Beach. Photo February 2016.

Due to its relative isolation, Rainbow Beach is not the usual beach side holiday town that visitors to South East Queensland might be accustomed to. There are no McDonald's, no KFC's or drive-thru's of any kind. Not only is the town devoid of traffic lights, but on my visit I couldn't even find a pedestrian crossing. What Rainbow does offer however, is the opportunity to get away from it all and explore some of the best natural attractions that South East Queensland has to offer. From the stunning views across to Fraser Island and Double Island Point, to the hidden beauty of the Carlo Sandblow and the Rainbow Sands that form a stunning cliff face along the ocean front, Rainbow Beach has somehow remained one of Queensland's best kept secrets.

Our first destination each morning was the Cafe Jilarty, across the road from the Rainbow Beach Hotel.

There's not much to the township of Rainbow Beach, which is exactly how visitors and locals alike like it. There is a small strip of local touristy gift shops, a handful of cafes and the unmissable Rainbow Beach Hotel. As far as pubs go, this is a slice of North Queensland located only 3 hours north of Brisbane. On the night we visited, live local band The Whiskey Mountain Boys were playing, and accompanied by some great food at reasonable prices, the pub at Rainbow makes for a must-do if visiting the area. And for breakfast each day, I'd recommend a pot of tea from directly across the road at the Cafe Jilarty at Rainbow.

The Cherry Venture sunk nearby at Teewah Beach in 1973. The propeller now rests in the park at Rainbow Beach.

The beach itself is located at the end of Rainbow Beach Road. Here the propeller off the shipwrecked Cherry Venture looks out over the sea, while below a patrolled surf beach marks the end of the 4WD beach access for those who have driven along the beach from Noosa North Shore.

Water seeping from a natural spring beneath the Carlo Sandblow. Photo February 2016.

The beach itself isn't just all for 4WDriving however, and if you keep an eye out for approaching cars, a walk south towards the coloured sand cliffs will take you past natural fresh water springs that somehow seep out from beneath the Carlo Sandblow. While the sandblow may have claimed the surrounding vegetation as the sand tries to force its way inland, somehow the water still manages to find its way to the sea.

A little imaginative sand carving from some visitors has resulted in this Rainbow Monster.

Rainbow Beach is incredibly popular with backpackers and grey nomads alike. During our camping stay in town at the Rainbow Beach Holiday Village, the local cafes were full with the sound of foreign accents and the sight of retirees wandering the streets. While nearby Fraser Island is what draws most visitors like moths to the proverbial flame, the fishing and camping in and around Rainbow Beach is reason enough to make the trek north for a long weekend. 4WD tours of Fraser Island and Double Island Point depart daily from the tourist centre in town for those with only a conventional vehicle like myself. Or like we did, you can just as easily come away refreshed from a few days of fishing, swimming and beach-combing around town.

My wife Denise and myself on our trek back from the coloured sands. February 2016.

What I liked: While Rainbow Beach offered the best views, it was nearby Inskip Point where the barge leaves to Fraser Island that offered the best fishing. Just ask my son. The Rainbow Beach Hotel and the short hike to the top of the Carlo Sandblow are must-do's.

What I didn't like: The sand flies and mosquito's were a problem, and spending all day fishing calls for a choice between the Bug-Off and the sunscreen. Together they didn't work. I came home in a patchwork of sunburn and bites!

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