By Jacqui Gray
Rainbow Beach – Where is this Paradise?
We discovered the end of the earth – no one else was with us – our own private beaches, lakes, and bushland. Deliciously slow paced, lacking in crowds. An Instagrammers delight. Point, click = 100% stunning photos.
Where is this paradise? East Coast, Australia, a few hours drive north of Brisbane you will discover Rainbow Beach. Low-key, half-secret to non-4WD lovers, is an adventure playground of striking natural beauty.
Along the beach are dramatic, tall sandy cliffs (and if you believe the locals) with over 70 different shades of red, yellow, orange, ochre and rust. Hence the name Rainbow Beach. The small township is relaxed and just begging for you to kick back and chill out. I was told during local school holidays it gets busy, but any other time it’s all yours to enjoy.
This region is home to an abundance of wildlife including kangaroos, whales, turtles, dingoes, dugongs, platypus and one of the world’s largest variety of bird species. Its landscape is steeped in indigenous culture and etched in Australian history, covering two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, a World Heritage Marine Park and the largest sand island in the world. Yeah, impressive stuff!
Some of the highlights and must-dos:
Slow down, relax – walks on the beach, swim, nap, read a book
Get up early for sunrise – an absolute must!
Make a trip to Carlo Sand Blow for sunset. A short drive from town, then an easy 10-minute walk through bushland and you open out onto jaw-dropping sand dunes – the size of them (they are serious immense) and the contrasts from the bushland, was such a surprise. In one direction are the cliffs and ocean (the sunrise option), the other back towards the sunset and a whole lotta WOW in between!
Inskip Point – known as the point to take the barge over to Fraser Island. Apparently great for sunset (we arrived late and missed it) but the next day spent about 4 hours wandering around the point; catching some sun, swimming, watching dolphins at play, vehicles coming on and off the barge, losing car keys, searching for car keys, finding car keys (an hour later). Hey, the dolphins distracted me!
Double Island Point lookout offers amazing views along the coastline – so I am told. From town, you can take a 4WD and drive along the beach or, like my super fit travel buddy decided to run there and back. A round trip of about 32 km (20 miles) – obscene I know – which caused his pompous superior attitude and chaffing the next day. I stayed in town and enjoyed the views and cocktails at the surf club. I also enjoyed his lovely photos and mercilessly mocking him about said chafing.
Poona Lake is a freshwater lake surrounded by a white sandy beach – the water is crystal clear but has a tea color stain from surrounding trees. Yet another short drive from town, followed by a walk through pristine bushland, with some native animal spotting. Clean and cool water on arrival and ALL to ourselves.
Accommodation – if you are equipped for camping – do it! There are some unbelievable waterfront spots to enjoy at Inskip Point. Otherwise, head back into town and you can lay your head down in shared dorms, a beach shack or luxury apartments.
While not known for its nightlife, there is a relaxed fun scene combining, backpackers from around the world, chilled locals and groups on fishing trips. A welcoming environment where you got to share your days special moments.