Study informs future of Cooloola Recreation Area

Published Monday, 06 May, 2024 at 12:40 PM

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Innovation
The Honourable Leanne Linard

  • The Miles Government has released the findings of a study into the use of the Cooloola Recreation Area.
  • The views of community members and other stakeholders were sought to understand how the area is currently being used and to anticipate future use.
  • The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service will use the study’s findings to guide future management and investment.

The findings of a study into the current and anticipated future usage of the Cooloola Recreation Area has been completed.

Tens-of-thousands of people currently visit Cooloola Recreation Area each year, making it one of the most popular destinations managed by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

Visitation has increased in recent years, particularly following the COVID-19 global pandemic. This increase in usage is expected to continue as South East Queensland’s population continues to grow in the years ahead.

Balancing this expected growth in visitation and the competing demands for access and use of the area and visitor safety and experiences with the conservation of the area’s natural and cultural values requires careful planning.

The area’s traditional owners, the Kabi Kabi and Butchulla Peoples, as well as stakeholders and community members including business and tourism operators, permit holders, and specialist subject matter experts were invited to participate in the survey.

The QPWS also undertook an analysis of existing data on enforcement action undertaken, economic and visitor benefits and community issues.

A key theme for respondents was balancing growing visitor numbers with protecting and conserving the environment and the region’s flora and fauna, continuing to provide a range of user experiences, better defining camp sites to cater for changing user needs, and taking a zero tolerance approach to unsafe and unsocial behaviours related to vehicles and driving.

The study recommendations have been summarised into key themes including management capability and partnerships, conservation, capacity and permitting, visitor safety, infrastructure and visitor experience, and these are in varying stages of implementation.

The study has informed the development of a new draft Cooloola Recreation Area Management Plan, which outlines how the special features of the iconic park will be sustainably managed into future.

Members of the public will be able to have their say of the draft management plan when it opens for public consultation, with more information available on the department’s website.

Quotes attributable to Environment Minister, Leanne Linard:

“Protecting our national parks and other protected areas is in the Miles Labor Government’s DNA.

“The Cooloola Recreation Area, which includes Double Island Point, Teewah Beach, Teewah Camping Zone, Freshwater Campsite, Rainbow Beach and lagoon area and Upper Noosa River is one of our popular destinations.

“There is something for everyone - boating, swimming, beach fishing and relaxing in a beautiful environment.

“In 2023, people spent more than 182,000 camper nights in the Cooloola Recreation Area, and almost 100,000 vehicle access permits were purchased.

“With increasing patronage, fuelled in part by South East Queensland’s growing population, there’s a risk the area’s unique natural environment will be adversely impacted if we don’t manage the area correctly.

“It is important that well informed planning is at the forefront of QPWS’s future management of the park and recreation area.

“The sustainable visitor capacity study that we commissioned has observed annual and seasonal visitation cycles, assessed current site demands and impacts and engaged with the Traditional Owners, residents of neighbouring communities, users of the areas and key stakeholders.

“The Miles Government will continue to listen to the community and key stakeholders to protect the Cooloola recreation area.

“The LNP is a threat to our protected areas. They have no policies and no plans for these areas and have a track record in reducing environmental protections and cutting staff in the Department of Environment and Science.”

Further information:

The Sustainable Visitor Capacity Management Study for the Cooloola Recreation Area, and the government’s summary and response is available here.


Media contact: Scott Chandler – (07) 3719 7339