TWHS: Great Sandy World Heritage Area, Australia

As we mentioned last time in our trip report on Fraser Island, we stayed in the beach town of Rainbow Beach the jumping off point for day tours to that World Heritage Site; and the town is also right up against the Great Sandy National Park, which is part of the proposed extensions to the Fraser Island site that are contained in today’s Tentative World Heritage Site visit:

Great Sandy World Heritage Area


It is proposed that the extension to the Fraser Island World Heritage Area will include the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park, the Breaksea Spit to the north of Fraser Island, Platypus Bay, the Great Sandy Strait/Tin Can Bay Ramsar Area and the Wide Bay Military Reserve. The nominated area falls between latitudes 24º33’S and 26º 39’S, and longitudes 152º 48′ E and 153º 11’E. A tentative name, Great Sandy World Heritage Area, has been inserted, but this is subject to consultation.

The proposed extension shares many of the values of the existing Fraser Island World Heritage Area. Its fascinating landscape showcases superlative natural phenomena and areas of natural beauty through long beaches backed by high dunes, open heath splashed with colourful wildflowers, mangroves, woodlands of banksia and scribbly gum, shady blackbutt forests, rainforests with towering trees, and tranquil lakes and waterways.

The proposed extension presents the world’s oldest coastal dune formation story. Here, eight overlapping layers of dunes represent a history spanning more than 700,000 years. As one of the most complete coastal dune systems in the world, the proposed extension is an outstanding example representing the major stages of Earth’s history.

It is also an outstanding example of significant ongoing ecological and biological processes. Within the ecosystems that have evolved on its sandy substrate, life continues to evolve in a low nutrient, acidic environment, providing a haven for large numbers of different life forms, including many rare and endangered species…

Apparently this is a particularly popular area for horseback riding, which gave us a chuckle when we were driving in to Rainbow Beach and found this most Australian of road signs right after entering the park boundaries:


Rather to our disappointment though, we did not actually see any wild kangaroos hopping about — that had to wait for our third day in Australia —

— and even more disappointing, what we had planned for the day after Fraser Island was to go dive with sharks at Wolf Rock with Wolf Rock Dive, that being somewhat of a generally overlooked gem of the diving world so we hear; but the weather gods were not with us, and the storm that blew in overnight as we were leaving Fraser Island not only made that impossible, it also cut off power to the town! All except for a ferris wheel set up in the city park, which made for some interestingly spooky photo ops:

If you’re a hardcore hiker, or you really want to get into this site, the signature experience is the 102 km five-day Cooloola Great Walk. We did a piece of it —

— ok, a very tiny piece of it, just enough to get to the Carlo Sand Blow:

and that was well worth doing, as the sunset from there was indeed spectacular, as you see in the lead picture.


p dir=”ltr”>So between the trekking, horse riding, and diving — we definitely recommend you consider spending some extra time exploring this extension while you’re in the area to visit Fraser Island!

About Author


I go places.


  1. […] the storm blew through the Great Sandy World Heritage Area and disrupted our plans there, we set off early to the wilds of the Brisbane hinterlands to stop by […]

Leave a Reply